_Julien Gatillon & NOUS, the table d’hôte that overturns the rules of the game
A journey paved with stars
When we ask the chef where his love of cooking comes from, he evokes his native Poitou-Charentes and the terroir of his region: "I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my mother and grandparents, in the countryside. Culinary art has always been important to us - the spirit of sharing, of conviviality, the love of good produce... I've been immersed in all that since I was very young."
While training at the Poitiers hotel school, Julien Gatillon landed his first internship in the kitchens of Le Chalet du Mont d'Arbois. He was fifteen at the time. The rest of his career took him straight to the stars: "I worked for almost five years in Switzerland, at the Hôtel de Ville de Crissier (three Michelin stars), under Philippe Rochat and Benoît Violier, where I began my apprenticeship. After that, I spent a year in Quebec for a change of scenery. I love nature and wide open spaces, and I wanted to discover another part of the world. When I came back to Paris, I worked for three years with Yannick Alleno at Le Meurice (three Michelin stars). Another great training course! "
In 2012, Le 1920, restaurant of Le Domaine du Mont d'Arbois, made him an offer he couldn't refuse: "Ten years after my first internship, I returned to my roots and took up my first chef's position in Megève."
A stroke of fate, but above all, the start of a great story. Julien Gatillon looks back on his collaboration with this Megève institution, which marked a turning point in his career: "I stayed there for nine years. I was awarded my first star in 2014, and my second in 2016. In 2017, Le 1920 moved to accommodate the opening of the Four Seasons. So I found myself in charge of the hotel's opening - I even had the chance to draw up the kitchen plans."
In September 2020, the chef gave in to his entrepreneurial urge to set up his own kitchen. Alongside his wife, Sonia Torland, he embarked on a gastronomic adventure of a different kind: Nous.
Breaking gastronomic codes
More than a table d'hôte, Nous is above all an experiment. Julien Gatillon explains in greater detail: "My wife and I bought a chalet on the road to le Mont d'Arbois, just a few minutes from the village. It's our home as well as our business, since it's where we receive our guests. There is only one table of twelve for a single reservation. As far as the kitchen is concerned, we offer a unique degustation menu. What I used to do at Le 1920 with a twenty-five-person brigade, I now do for a single table, with my wife, at home. We're working on creating an intimate, very exclusive experience."
We ask the chef how he came up with the idea of setting up this astonishing concept - his answer is delightful: "I wanted to break with the codes of the classic gastronomic restaurant, I really wanted to create a closeness between the customer and us. Since I started out, I've always thought that I had to find a restaurant format where I could operate on my own and offer a different experience."
A successful gamble! At Nous, it's like being at home, immersed in a unique, made-to-measure gastronomic experience. Indeed, Julien Gatillon draws his inspiration from the noblest products and composes seven-course menus to suit his guests' tastes. "The idea," he explains, "is to get in touch with each customer to discuss allergies and intolerances, but also to ask them if they'd like to join us to celebrate a special occasion. Is it your mother-in-law's birthday, and she's dreaming of an autumn menu, all hunting and mushrooms? I can adapt."
The real taste of things
A classical, French cuisine in which the product is at the heart of everything: this is how Julien Gatillon defines his art. The chef works by instinct, using the best seasonal produce; for him, there's no question of compromising on quality or freshness. "The most complicated thing is to keep it simple. I don't like to mix lots of products on the plate. I like my dishes to be easy to understand and to give you the real taste of things. If I make a calf sweetbread with porcini mushrooms, I cook the sweetbread, the mushrooms, the jus, the sauce, but nothing more. I don't have fun adding anything else. I put taste first, that's for sure. The most important thing for me is the quality of the product, the cooking and the seasoning."
Getting back to the roots of the chef’s trade
Julien Gatillon dared to take the plunge - and what a plunge it was! There seems to be a world of difference between the kitchens of Le Domaine du Mont d'Arbois and those of Nous. Yet, the chef affirms with aplomb that his profession has remained essentially the same: "The only difference is that I now work on a niche, made-to-measure offer. When I was executive chef at Le Domaine du Mont d'Arbois, with ten restaurants under my thumb, I had no choice but to delegate a lot of tasks. Now, I work alone with my wife: everything has to be done, but it's a real return to the roots of the profession. From sourcing to processing, including setting the plates, everything passes through my hands."
Although the chef and his wife receive their guests in the privacy of their own home, the dining room has been entirely designed and fitted out like a classic restaurant. And what would a restaurant be without its wine cellar? On the chef's expert advice, guests are invited to discover the treasures of his cellar by themselves. If they wish, they can choose and bring to the table the bottles that will enhance their meal. As its name suggests, Nous is a place for sharing, a communal space, much to Julien Gatillon's delight: "Some customers get up from the table. They come with me into the kitchen to see how I cook my scallops."
A dream that can only blossom in Megève
"Megève is a dream come true," says our host, "I discovered the village when I was fifteen, during my first professional experience: it's really where I discovered the chef's trade. I couldn't see myself setting up Nous’ concept anywhere else."
The chef has embraced the spirit of the resort and adapted to its rhythm. After the hustle and bustle of winter and summer seasons, Julien Gatillon, an avid nature lover, likes to catch his breath in the mountains. In fact, in the heart of the village, something is afoot: it's under the sign of conviviality and excellence that the chef intends to place this new winter season. He has imagined a unique location in the heart of Megève, with two distinct spaces, each imbued with the same philosophy as Nous. Julien Gatillon reveals his new features: "On the first floor, we've created an open kitchen with a counter and seating for twelve. No tables, everyone eats at the counter. We're sticking to classic French cuisine, with degustation menus that highlight the products... Welcome to Vous! The other space is on the mezzanine. I wanted to create a second open kitchen offering a Japanese experience: Anata - "you" in Japanese. Here, we offer an omakase menu, in other words, a menu that highlights the diversity of Japanese culinary techniques."
In broad terms, the formula remains unchanged: twelve seats for each restaurant and the promise of intimate, gourmet cuisine. To bring this new project to life, Julien Gatillon has gathered around him a team with a proven track record: chefs and sous-chefs he has met throughout his career and with whom he has enjoyed collaborating.
It was on the sound advice of Philippe Guilhem, eager to shed light on this address that is so dear to him, that we pushed open the doors of Nous. Julien Gatillon tells us: "Megève is also a small village, so all the local players know each other. We have the pleasure of regularly welcoming Philippe to our table".
206 Impasse de la Madone