Food and drink

World’s Best Dishes: Bouillabaisse

Marc Forgione travels 3,990 miles from New York to Golfe Juan to discover a rustic French stew that’s found an audience with the stars

Editor’s Note: Tetou restaurant closed in 2018

In Nice, my wife and I rented a car and drove through Cannes, Antibes, along winding coastal roads and beside perfect white sand beaches.

I’d previously spent a year and a bit working in France, in Eugénie-les-Bains. It’s a tiny village in the southwest, with nothing around it but fields. The French Riviera is the opposite: it has wide-open ocean, Mediterranean beaches – and bouillabaisse.

As a chef, I let food dictate a lot of where I like to travel. In the town of Golfe-Juan, there’s a small restaurant called Tetou (open March-October). It’s a simple, family-run place, in a rustic building by the beach, just east of Cannes. But Tetou’s bouillabaisse is legendary, and quite different from what you get in Marseille, the dish’s spiritual home. I knew we had to go.

It’s served a bit differently. First, the broth, clear but packed with flavour from the various fish cooked in it, is served in a massive tureen. Then the fish – John Dory, red mullet, rascasse, turbot (and langoustines if you pay more), all cooked whole in the broth – is brought out on a huge platter, and filleted at the table for you. This is how they’ve served it since they opened in the 1920s.

Tetou and its bouillabaisse draw a notable crowd, including plenty of actors during the film festival in nearby Cannes. We picked the restaurant without knowing it was so expensive – and that it was cash only. So we had to make a decision: order a bottle of wine or the langoustines? To my wife’s dismay, I chose the langoustines. Always choose the langoustines.

Marc Forgione is a chef and owner of New York restaurants Marc Forgione, American Cut and Lobster Press.