Benoit Witz is the head chef at Elsa, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer. Elsa was the first organic restaurant to receive a Michelin star.
What is your favourite restaurant?
My favourite restaurant is one where people look after you, where there is a real soul, atmosphere and where people take it to heart when it comes to cooking for you. The latest restaurant that I discovered is a small unpretentious bistro in Nice named Racines. Everything is simple but complex at the same time.
Where have you received the best customer service?
Whether it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant or not, the most important thing, in my opinion, is showing respect and care for guests. I need to feel free and I love receiving some delicate attention. For instance, if the chef comes to meet and greet the guests at the end of the meal or perhaps you are given a little gift to take away to remember the restaurant. Once, in a charming backcountry hotel, the maître d’hotel picked a flower for my wife and placed it as a decoration on the table during our meal.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I love travelling to hot countries during wintertime and I love going to the mountains all-year-round because it is so quiet and the landscapes are so beautiful. In France, my favourite destination would be Corsica.
What is the last book you read?
I’ve just read a book about the life of [French politician] Simone Veil. On the gastronomy side, I have recently read an excellent book written by French chef Jean-François Piège and chef Guy Krenzer.
What or who is your biggest inspiration?
I think the inspiration comes from the meetings I have with suppliers at the local marketplace, as well as the interactions I have with my friends who cook.
What has been your proudest moment?
I am really proud of working with Paul Bocuse at the beginning of my career but also of travelling to Japan to discover their culture, way of living and gastronomy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
‘Now that the objective has been achieved, we have to work even harder.’
What is your favourite music to listen to?
I love listening to an ‘80s playlist – music that combines rock, blues and popular songs.
Do you collect anything or would you like to?
I collect mortars in wood or rock, noble materials which require a lot of knowledge and skill.
What changes do you anticipate seeing within the luxury hospitality industry over the next five years?
A strong awareness to change our way of working to respect the environment, using more organic products and mainly eating local and seasonal. We have to provide good practice for our collaborators.
If you could describe your cuisine in three words, what would they be?
Simple, healthy and organic.