InterviewsInterview with Corsican chef, Romuald Royer
Interview with Corsican chef, Romuald Royer
Le Lido, a family history.
Located in Corse du Sud, the pleasant village of Propriano can now claim to have a Michelin star restaurant: Le Lido.
A family institution, founded in 1932 by Noël Pittilloni, the hotel-restaurant Le Lido was built on a rocky outcrop that provides an unbeatable view over the Gulf of Valinco. In 1963, his son Antoine took over the reins of this establishment, joined a few years later by his youngest daughter Marie-Paule. Today she runs this 80 year old stalwart, and she was brought up sharing the family’s love for the craft.
In 2000, a fateful meeting took place. She met her future partner Romuald Royer, who joined the team at Le Lido in 2002 to work in the bar. Nevertheless, with his Bac S qualification, there was no suggestion that this young man studying to be a pharmacist in Montpellier (34) would give it all up to become a kitchen boy. « My parents where pharmacists and I was all set to follow them into the profession. In 2005, I started working in the kitchens alongside my father-in-law, Antoine. It was while watching him work that a light came on in my mind. So, I took an intensive 6 month course at the local AFPA adult vocational training centre, where I learned all the basic techniques. Needless to say, I am a fast learner… » this native Corsican tells us. A true self-taught chef, Romuald returned to the kitchen where he perfected, most notably, the speciality of the house: Oven baked Lobster (cut in half and cooked au gratin). Since 2009, he is officially the chef and the couple run the place by themselves, « always respecting the traditions of the family and the spirit of Le Lido ».
In 2011, he was hopeful of earning a Michelin star. « We didn’t expect to be awarded this at all. When they said to me that I was 'a real chef', it was the greatest feeling for someone like me who never really studied to be a chef ». Then, in 2012, it happened: they were awarded a star!
So, why does he deserve this award? 100 % locally inspired, Romuald’s dishes are dreamed up every morning depending on what comes in fresh that day from the suppliers. It is simple cuisine, with no frills, that relies upon Corsican local produce: broccio cheese, herbs from the Maquis, olive oil, wild lavender, etc. To really get your mouth watering, he serves up Sea Urchin and Eggs en coquotte, authentic Tiger veal with green olives; strawberries from Bastellicaccia. This prestigious award also allowed the couple to launch several other projects: « we wanted to put the 11 room hotel –most of the rooms lead straight out onto the beach – at the same level as the restaurant ».Most of all, however, Romuald is glad to attribute his award of the Michelin star to his father-in-law, Antoine.