Prevue asked Cindy Hoddeson, Director, Meeting & Incentive Sales, Monaco Government Tourist Office, for her thoughts on F&B trends.
Q: What are some unique Mediterranean dishes specific to Monaco?
A: Some specialty items to be found in the Monégasque “cavagnettu,” or wicker picnic basket, include barbagiuans, which are small dumpling-shaped baked or fried puff-pastries filled with swiss chard, ricotta, leeks, garlic and herbs. Pissaladière is a savory tart with onions and tomatoes topped with olives and anchovies, and tourte de blette is a Swiss chard pie.
Q: How does Monaco’s culture and region impact the local cuisine?
A: Prince Rainier III was quoted as saying that the culinary traditions of a country reflect the lifestyle and the culture of its people. The Principality, situated at the foot of the Southern Alps along the Mediterranean enjoys a mild climate and the cuisine is a flavorful fusion of southern French (especially Provençal and Niçoise) and Italian.
Locals and visitors savor a wide variety of seafood and fish not often found in North American restaurants like sea bass, red mullet, cod, and octopus. Vineyards, olive groves and lemon orchards are an integral part of the landscape. Michelin-starred chefs and home cooks would be lost without olive oil, lemon juice and, of course, grapes. Healthy dishes using fresh local ingredients are part of Monaco’s traditions along with wonderful moments at the table sharing fine food, wine and friendships.
Q: What are some popular restaurants in Monaco that cater especially well to groups?
A: Café Llorca, located on the first floor of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco, was established by Chef Alain Llorca, who holds two Michelin stars. He created a restaurant offering delicious cuisine at reasonable prices, which can accommodate 500 guests for a sit-down dinner. An exterior bar enables clients to enjoy the splendid terrace with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Monaco also offers chic and modern options for the younger crowd. Zest, located along Monaco’s famous harbor, features a caviar bar and live music lounge with a décor that combines baroque and modern styles. The new Buddha Bar Monte-Carlo is located in a wing of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, featuring innovative Asian and fine French cuisine. Next spring at the hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, a third Joël Robuchon restaurant will open, and the new poolside restaurant will launch with stunning art works by Karl Lagerfeld.
Q: Is group demand growing for F&B events in cultural venues around Monaco?
A: Planners always seek out the legendary and iconic venues of Monaco. The Casino de Monte-Carlo and Opera House, once home to such artistic giants as Matisse and Picasso, is one of the most famous and beautiful buildings in the world. Cocktail receptions may be held in the atrium of the casino. The Prince’s private collection of antique cars, which includes almost 100 remarkable vintage vehicles, is an ideal setting for a group soiree. Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum & Institute, founded by by Prince Albert 1 in the early 20th century, can be privatized for groups up to 1,400 people.