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Cédric Béchade

Thursday 01 October 2009

The new art of innkeeping

He chose to become an innkeeper all the while maintaining his career as a chef. At 32 years of age, Cédric Béchade is writing a new chapter in his life as he opens the Auberge Basque amid the Rhune mountains. This is a place where past meets present, where servings are generous, elegant and affordable. It’s a place where one can drop in and stay over feeling like a houseguest. A success from the start.

The project took nearly fi ve years of gestation. Initiated in the kitchens of the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz with Jean- Marie Gautier, the career of Cédric Béchade then brought him to the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, then in the footsteps of Alain Ducasse that quickly elevated his status, bringing him to be the second-in-command to Jean- Francois Piège at the Plaza Athénée before becoming the chef at «La Cour Jardin.» This high-speed track would logically continue at an international level, but Cedric had other ideas. «I told myself as I neared 30 I had all the energy and experience necessary to create my own business, manage a team. With more than 10 years spent in the restaurant industry at the highest level, I was something like an athlete thinking how to manage my sports career. I gave it a lot of thought, discussed it with everyone around me, and came up with an entire project. It was to be a project based on sustainable development, ergonomic for the men and women who would work there, a project that would respond to this nascent yearning for a certain simplicity combined with elegance, a return to true values.» And, as Cédric had sworn he’d one day return to Basque country, that is where he went looking for what would become his project: an old inn in Helbarron, 5 minutes from Saint-Jean de Luz, the beach and the Basque mountains.

Flavorful, elegant, generous cuisine

As a child, Cédric’s vacations were all spent at his maternal grandparents’ house in the Lozere region. «My grandmother was an excellent cook. My grandfather loved nature and would take me fi shing. I was immersed in a culture of enjoying good food which made me want to become a cook. And it’s through the Basque country’s magnifi cent offerings, traditional recipes that highlight local products from land, mountain and sea, that I rediscovered this sense of living and of taste. At my inn, I rely largely on this wonderful heritage in order to create a cuisine that is fl avorful, elegant, and generous. Of course, I’ll continue to work with specialty products like the noble foie gras that I like to poach, roast, make into confi t. Foie gras lends itself to audacity, to endless combinations,» relates Cédric enthusiastically. The great attraction at the Auberge Basque is the choice of two prix-fi xes and one high-fl ying menu, as well as the magnifi cent wine selection - all gently priced. «I think we’ve reached a point in gastronomical cuisine of total excess in luxury ingredients and prices,» notes Cédric. «The present economic crisis is forcing us to revert to a realistic approach, based on what really matters, which is providing accessible pleasure, inviting what’s true and authentic.»

Working stress-free at the Inn

At the Auberge Basque, Cédric and his 6 team members inhabit perfectly their roles as innkeeper-cooks. In their open kitchen that gives onto the dining room, they work serenely before the eyes of their many customers who number about 60 every day, noon and evening. On the hotel side, they welcome their guests, take the time to show them their rooms whose windows and terraces open onto a spectacular panorama. Is this for real? Working without stress, without pressure? «Running a restaurant is full of constraints. And, quite often, we manage to create even more problems for ourselves! That’s why, in my plan for an inn, I gave a lot of consideration to the making of an ergonomic kitchen. The setup that I had built allows for an economy of movement, saves us nearly an hour in cleanup, and lets us work peacefully, three abreast, even during the rush. This inn is the fruit of a true vision of the future of our line of work, and always with the idea of sustainability. This means renewable energy sources, geothermic in particular, priority to local and seasonal products, priority to noble products that improve with time. The Auberge Basque owes its success largely to every person, artisans, artists, and friends who have all shaped its soul and character,» concludes Cédric.

L’Auberge Basque
64310 Helbarron / Saint Pée sur Nivelle - France
Tel : +33 (0)5 59 51 70 00 / Fax : +33 (0)5 59 51 70 17
Email :

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