July 26, 2021

The flowery genius of Jacques Maximin

As there is the salmon cutlet with sorrel from the Troisgros brothers, the mashed potatoes from Joël Robuchon or the VGE soup from Paul Bocuse, there is the courgette flower with truffles from Jacques Maximin. ” This may be the only thing I can claim to be, both in terms of recipe and product. », One day confided to us this chef, however renowned for his insatiable inventiveness.

From the second half of the 1970s, this “little guy from the north”, born in 1948, in Rang-du-Fliers (Pas-de-Calais) was one of the first starred stars to give their letters of nobility to flavors of the Mediterranean. After a visit to the Moulin de Mougins, directed by Roger Vergé, pillar of the “nouvelle cuisine” and the Riviera renewal, then to the Bonne Auberge de Jo Rostang, in Antibes, it is in the Nice palace of Negresco, at the head of the restaurant Chantecler, that Jacques Maximin will assert himself as one of the most fiery talents of his generation (MOF in 1979, double Michelin badge, named “cook of the year” in 1982, by Gault & Millau).

Before opening a spectacular restaurant-theater (rue Sacha Guitry, in Nice), then as an officer in Vence, and finally at the Bistrot de la Marine, in Cagnes-sur-Mer, until 2016, it was in the mythical hotel on the Promenade des Anglais that this pioneer of vegetable cuisine imagined a find that has become a bestseller.

Los Angeles and the miracle zucchini

One day in 1978, while shopping in Nice, Cours Saleya, the cook bought from Madame Auda, market gardener in Carros, a crate of small flowering zucchini. Quintessence of the Nice vegetable, the zucchini produces two types of flowers. The male flower, picked at the end of a stem, traditionally cooked in a donut, gratin or stuffed, and the female blooming at the end of the vegetable and until then neglected as such.

With his then pastry chef, Hubert Keller, Jacques Maximin decided to develop a dish using both the body and the flower of this local wonder. A month of testing will be necessary to perfect the cooking, stuffing and presentation. But from its first service, the recipe is a success.

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Customers will feast on these lovely zucchini with their striated body and rounded flower with a stuffing delicately composed of the skin of the vegetable, bread crumbs, eggs, crème fraîche and basil. On the zucchini-flowers arranged head to tail, we poured a sauce made of reduced vegetable juice, mounted in butter, in which beautiful blades of truffles were infused, before being enriched with whipped cream.

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