As a little boy, Hugo Roellinger listened eagerly to the bedtime stories told by his father, Olivier Roellinger, a former three-star chef and Vice President of Relais & Châteaux. Former sailor, Hugo returned to world of cooking at Le Coquillage, the Michelin-starred family restaurant in Cancale.
Since childhood, Hugo Roellinger has grasped the beauty and fragility of the ecosystem surrounding him, between the mainland and the sea. Brittany has been damaged by oil spills and ravaged by intensive agriculture. Though he was first a seaman, today, at age 30, he is a chef, restaurant owner, and hotelier, carrying on his father’s commitments.
At La Ferme du Vent, which he designed down to the least detail, there is no telephone, no Internet, no television – a place where hospitality is defined by simplicity. At Le Coquillage restaurant, where he gradually took the helm, his actions are governed by his relationship with the producers. “A cuisine’s meaning lies in its relationship to a place,” he explains. “Ours is dedicated to this small region of Cancale and Saint-Malo, protecting this heritage, these exceptional natural surroundings and the people whose lives depend on them.” With feeling, he talks about Didier Roberge, who gathers shellfish on foot in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, as well as Philippe Orveillon and Thierry Lemarchand. “Philippe isn’t a fisherman – he’s a diver-gatherer,” he explains with a smile. “His world is the abyssal zone, where he selects a variety of shellfish – abalone, wild oysters. And he gathers only the best, without disrupting the fragile seabed.” Thierry, on the other hand, is a breeder, raising 70 Froment du Léon dairy cattle, and among the last to do so. He came to see the Roellingers one day to tell them that he was at the end of his rope, utterly dispirited at having to sell his milk in bulk to the big agroindustrialists. The father and son gave him their support at once, purchased everything he produced, and told their chef friends about him and his milk. “Today, we use and serve exceptional butter: It was a fortuitous encounter that led to a wonderful collaboration,” concludes Hugo. One can daydream while gazing at the horizon, but one can also act, and these men embody that dedication.