‘Monsieur Idiot’ named France’s chef of the year

Chef Alexandre Couillon has a name that he himself admits “is not easy to carry”.

But the man whose surname translates as “Idiot” was named Wednesday as France’s cook of the year, having turned his family’s humble “moules frites” joint into one of the country’s best seafood restaurants.

His triumph is all the more remarkable because the restaurant is at the farthest end of the unpretentious island of Noirmoutier off France’s west coast, a favourite for bucket and spade family holidays.

The 40-year-old chef, who featured on the Emmy-winning Neflix show “Chef’s Table” last month, has built a worldwide reputation for the simple but ingenious way he cooks ingredients from his garden and the little fishing port of L’Herbaudiere his eatery overlooks.

The first year he and his wife Celine took over the then seasonal La Marine restaurant “we didn’t have a single customer one night in July”, Couillon stated.

“You don’t come here by accident. Now we have people coming 800 kilometres for dinner.