Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reminiscing

About 27 years ago to the day, as a naive 18 year old, I jumped on a plane from New Zealand to France to join my boyfriend (now husband) in the South of France.
After settling down our priority was to find jobs.Domenico had made some contacts in Nice and St Jean Cap Ferrat, so after a few weeks I started work at Le Gourmet Italien Restaurant in St Jean.
Le Gourmet was owned by Gianni D’Angelis who Domenico actually worked for years previously on the island of Capri and unexpectedly bumped into again in St Jean as he was working as a waiter next door at Le Sloop restaurant. Gianni was a typical Neapolitan and an absolutely superb chef, he took me under his wings and showed me the ropes, luckily his English was brilliant which helped as my French was limited even though I had studied ‘O’ level french at school.
So the summer was spent working 7 days a week serving the rich and famous, making loads of tips, then heading to the beach to sleep in the afternoon before starting the evening shift. Back in those days the port of St Jean was thriving.

In 2006 we stopped off in St Jean during out camper vanning trip and was surprised to see that Le Gourmet was still there and had in fact expanded to include a Neapolitan pizzeria. After a few calls the staff tracked Gianni down who came to spend the evening with us, it was lovely to catch up after so many years and for him to see our children, we reminisced a bit and he kept saying how I was always his favourite waitress…how sweet!! Unfortunately Gianni’s health was not good and he was getting on a bit, but he couldn’t keep himself away from the restaurant, it was in his blood.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we heard that Gianni had passed away. His partner for the past 30 years is still running the restaurant, though only the pizzeria part, the other has closed down. Domenico and I quite often go down to see her and help out occasionally, it is a lovely restaurant though the port in general has lost its charm from years ago and a lot of places are looking tired. The menu’s are still the same as they were 27 years ago ….nothing has changed with time. The prices too are absolutely over the top... for example a margarita pizza in Naples will be no more than 5 euro, in St Jean the average is 15 euro…crazy!! They say they have to justify the high prices because the season is shorter now.

After travelling the world and running our own restaurants we can see where things are going wrong and what needs to be changed in St Jean, but unfortunately the owners are stuck in their ways and won’t make changes to adapt with the times…which is a real shame.
DJ and I have recently finished a website for them to bring them into the 21st century http://www.gourmetitalien.com/

3 comments:

  1. Hi Shirley :)

    The seafood looks delish! Very nice job on the website. I have waitressed too in the past. It is a hard job, and every tip is earned!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. I am a Brit married to a Sicilian also called Domenico. He was a waiter, turned chef, turned restaurant proprietor. We have visited the South of France but feel, as you do, that they are stuck in their ways. They certainly need to move on and refurbish. We actually live in Belgium and believe it or not prefer the cuisine here to France. I must say prices are high in Italian restaurants and they do cater for the Belgian palate, i.e. lots of fresh cream.Oh before I forget congratulations on your daughter's wedding. You have a lovely family.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome pics on the website mum!

    ReplyDelete