How to eat like Ettore Bugatti
When it comes to any ultra-prestige motoring marque, the lifestyle built around the brand seems as important as the cars themselves.
These automakers invest heavily in apparel catalogues, perfumes, customised luggage and exclusive driving experiences for their customers. Even dining opportunities are within the realm of possibility, like in the case of Bugatti, which wants to offer its elite audience a literal taste of the finer things.
You will need to brush up on your French, but the good news is you can join the party even if your driveway lacks one of the rare, expensive specimens bearing the EB insignia.
Our story takes us a few kilometres south of Molsheim in Alsace, the birthplace of the Bugatti brand and location of its headquarters to this day. Enter the little Alsatian town of Obernai, where Clos Sainte Odile was established by Ettore Bugatti 100 years ago, subsequently becoming the two-star Michelin Guide restaurant, La Fourchette des Ducs, which exists to this day.
Wikipedia tells us Odile was the patroness saint of good eyesight and Alsace, eastern France. Google translate explains Fourchette de Ducs means The Fork of Dukes.
Clos Sainte Odile came about after Bugatti’s idea to create an exclusive venue where he could entertain his customers. Around 100 years ago, he asked his friends Lucien Weissenburger, Charles Spindler, and René Lalique to help him in the venture.
Weissenburger was the owner of a winery in the Vosges mountains and handled the running of the restaurant. Spindler was, among other things, responsible for the carvings on the beams of the half-timbered house. Artist Lalique created some of the building’s exclusive interior design such as the matching wall lights. Ettore opened shop in 1921.
Clos Sainte Odile has since evolved and transformed into La Fourchette des Ducs. For more than 20 years, head chef Nicolas Stamm and manager Serge Schaal have been preserving the spirit of Ettore Bugatti. They achieve this on the one hand by creating an atmosphere that draws on the building’s historical furnishings.
The Winter Room, for example, features wall lights designed specially by René Lalique as well as Bugatti’s favorite spot right by the fireplace.
“The atmosphere in the Winter Room is quite special, it is almost as if you could reach out and touch history here,” said Stamm.
It is not just the ambience that brings the building’s history to mind — so, too, do the dishes prepared by Stamm and his team. Traditional Alsatian recipes from the time of Bugatti are regularly reinvented at La Fourchette des Ducs.,
“While it is not always possible to replicate the dishes exactly from bygone times, we do try to encapsulate the essence of the recipes, exactly as the atelier in Molsheim does with its manufacture of Bugatti vehicles,” said Stamm.
During the holiday season, the restaurant will offer its guests a special selection of traditional Alsatian desserts. The chariot de Noël dessert cart features 15 desserts including Sapin de Noël (Christmas tree), Tarte aux Poires (pear tart), and Tarte de Linz. There is one dessert that stands out in particular among the many offered: Tarte Obernoise, which Bugatti served around 100 years ago on his wedding day.
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