After 6 years of renovation work, the Musée d'arts de Nantes reopened on 23 June 2017. With its new extension, "Le Cube", dedicated to contemporary works of art, the museum is also breaking new ground with the addition of a restaurant, the Café du Musée. Eric Guérin, the Michelin-starred chef of La Mare aux Oiseaux, near La Baule, and Jardin des Plumes in Giverny, is expanding his palette of flavours with this new urban address. He tells us how he brings paintings and food together on the plate.
Why did you agree to sign the restaurant card for the Nantes Museum of Art?
I grew up in a family of art collectors and enthusiasts. When I was very young, my mum opened a gallery at home and our weekends were punctuated by dinners at art openings. Those big dinner parties made me want to become a chef. So, returning to art today through cooking is a bit like coming full circle.
How does the museum inspire you?
I've always built my dishes using visuals and drawings as a starting point. I like to make them like stories and seasonal tableaux. At the Musée d'arts de Nantes, the energy is strong and the inspiration manifold. Of course, I have to meet the needs of customers who just want to eat at lunchtime, but I hope in time to be able to offer a more artistic range of dishes for dinner with our bistro evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, for which the museum is reserved for us.
Make us hungry with a few examples of the dishes...
We regularly pay tribute to an artist. For example, during the opening week in June, we paid tribute to Pierre Soulages with a monkfish just cooked with fleur de Bretagne, fish and cauliflower presented in different textures and decorated with fish stock flavoured with squid ink. Another menu was inspired by one of Pollock's works, playing on the strong colours of a spring roll revisited in a version with small regional vegetables and lobster from our coasts.
What is your favourite work at the Musée d'arts de Nantes?
Art is like cooking: it's multi-faceted and very much depends on the state of mind we're in at any given moment. That's what moves me about the museum's layout and its modernity. Just wandering around, letting yourself be carried away by the vibrancy of the place and discovering or rediscovering a work at every moment, is just magic. Of course, I always get a thrill out of seeing Monet and his "Water Lilies", a version of which is on show at the Musée de Nantes, which remind me of where I grew up and that my second home, Le Jardin des Plumes, is in Giverny.