by Julie Angus, Scientist & Author. National Geographic Adventurer of the year
“The tapenades are magnifique,” Philippe Gion promised as we walked through l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to the morning market.
We were in the heart of Provence, a two-hour drive inland from Cassis eager to learn how to make a meal representative of the region and to better understand the use of olive oil in Provence. Philippe, a professional chef who runs a Provencal cooking school, is an arresting figure: tall, lean, and strong, dressed in white with a wicker basket over one arm and with short white hair and eyes like Kalamata olives.
I first heard about Philippe while doing preliminary research on the history of olive oil in cuisine. I wanted to learn how the masters use this special ingredient, how olive oil is woven into recipes not only in haute cuisine but also in daily cooking. Given France’s unparalleled reputation for food, learning from a French chef seemed like a great idea, and when I read about France’ tops chefs specializing in Provencal cuisine, I kept coming across Philippe’s name. Reader’s Digest included his cooking school in their list of top ten vacations for foodies, and USA Today ranked it as one of the top three cooking school vacations in France.
Philippe’s culinary background is as impressive as the meals he produces. He has opened and managed restaurants around the world, cooked for Marlon Brando on his atoll in French Polynesia, and was executive chef for Stanford University in California. He has been a professional cellist and a film maker, producing military films after he sneaked into army at age of seventeen.
Born in Provence, he returned two decades ago to focus on traditional Mediterranean cuisine and is passionate about Provencal ingredients. He believes that food should be simple and delicious, made with the best and freshest ingredients available and that eating well also means eating healthily. He told us that “food is to replenish the mind and the body. I want to make sure mine does both.”
Philippe Gion teaches in Provence and on the Côte d'Azur since 1995.
• Marlo Brando
• Reika Hashimoto
. Stanford University
. Alliances Françaises
. National Geographic
. Relais & Châteaux
• First Prize Winner Cello
• Economics Degree
• Award Film Winner:
Short Film "Verdun,
La Chose Immonde"