Illustration of the interview with Céline Pham, Inari restaurant, Arles, France


The wines that punctuated my journey to Arles.

by Céline Pham, Inari, France

The deity of rice, harvest and fertility, Inari is one of Japan's most famous and beloved Shinto deities. It is also the name of Céline Pham’s brand new restaurant. The prodigiously talented, wanderlust-driven chef has finally decided to settle in Arles, in the heart of a 13th-century chapel, to create dishes and delicacies with the summer tempo she had been looking for. As she recounts her journey so far, she adds dashes tipples that have left a lasting impression on her.


“I have now overcome the traumatic experiences of military life in the kitchen, and discovering wines saved me”.


Bruno Schueller wines (Alsace) and the 2012 Chardonnay, The Blanc by Patrick Bouju (Auvergne)


“Then I went to work with Sven Chartier at Saturne (Paris, 2nd Arrondissement) and through him and his inquisitiveness, I also learnt some amazing things. Together, we did a residency at Fulgurances (Paris, 11th Arrondissement) and we chose the wines. Some from Alsace, including the superb wines by Bruno Schueller, showed remarkable depth. I also remember a 2012 Chardonnay, The Blanc by Patrick Bouju, the great Auvergne winegrower. The wine itself filled me with emotion, without even giving any thought to the pairings. Sometimes, you’re looking for emotions, and subsequently that leads to desires”.



Champagnes by Georges Laval or Jacques Lassaigne


“At Saturne in Paris, with Sven Chartier, I also tasted a lot of Champagnes and that then gave me a taste for luxury – why wouldn’t it! It went hand in hand with the crazy tempo we had forced ourselves to follow, the insane, almost military-style life of a kitchen brigade.



Moussa Moussette by the Mosse family (Anjou)


“When I subsequently worked at Chez Aline (Paris, 11th Arrondissement), the former butcher’s shop converted into a restaurant by Delphine Zampetti, I understood the simple life with the comforting recipes she produced, which worked because of the Loire wines she served. Time could pass by slowly, and simply”.



Skin-contact wines by Radikon (Italy)


“Later, at Septime (Paris, 11th Arrondissement), I learnt in the same way with Bertrand Grébaud. He shows a lot of rigour and intelligence and everything about the way he gets to the crux of things is carefully thought-through and honest. This is where I discovered Georgian and orange wines, white skin-contact wines. The flavours here are really food for thought and learning”.



Frank Cornelissen wines (Italy), ‘La Grande Journée’ by Jean-Yves Péron (Savoy)


 “My brother Julien, who has a culinary events agency and makes his own wines with Auvergne winegrower Patrick Bouju at Domaine La Bohème, introduced my palate to incredible wines like those by Frank Cornelissen, the Belgian winegrower located at the foot of Mount Etna, and Jean-Yves Péron’s ‘La Grande Journée, in Savoy. My brother and I would drink them as a treat after a rewarding day’s work. You can’t beat it!”


Gap year.

Wines by Domaine Les Valseuses (Jura), ‘Embrasse-moi’ by Domaine Les Bois Perdus


“Creating my own world was essential for regaining the tokens of kindness I was lacking in my work. Previously, the entire pace of my life was wrapped in harshness and intensity and for a long time I wondered how I should achieve fulfilment. With Inari, I am only just scratching the surface of what I’m aiming for. It’s a kind of gap year. Here, it’s an HQ with a vision and the time to look around and build things. At Inari, we enjoy ourselves but most importantly what we serve on the menu has to align with the choice of wines we offer, it’s very important. The scope of possibilities is huge and endless, with the fruits, herbs and vegetables that Arles has to offer. It all really makes a difference. I have known this since I studied at ‘La Chassagnette’ with Armand Arnal and his incredible kitchen garden. I said to myself, “If you can’t manage to do extraordinary things with this produce then you’ll never succeed”. But the emotional shock came at the market in Arles where I fell in love with a Japanese organic market gardener, Jinno Raitetsu. The first time I took his vegetables, I looked at him and was lost for words, such was my admiration for this man’s work. He is so meticulous and precise and that played a pivotal role in my choices, despite the fact that I had a network of producers in Paris that I had fought hard to work with. This brief stop in Arles upended all my habits, including this one. Here, you move away from your pre-planned buying habits to get inspiration from a bustling market, boost your creativeness and push the boundaries of your cooking. I challenge myself a lot more. It’s hot here and I’m discovering the climate, even in the design of my kitchen where air absolutely has to circulate”.

Article - Élodie Louchez

After being editor-in-chief for the NRJ radio group, then for society and cultural programmes for France 3, France 5 and Pink TV with Michel Field, Elodie Louchez is now a journalist and author for discovery magazines and society documentaries, with a particular focus on ecofeminism. She is a member of the natural wine producers’ organisation and five years ago, with her partner Marie Carroget, she founded the first exhibition for female natural winegrowers in Nantes – Canons.


Illustration - Chloé Weinfeld

Chloé Weinfeld is a French illustrator based in Lyon. Using gouache, she paints surrealist scenes with lush vegetation and vibrant tones. Her complex, joyful artistic compositions offer a fusion of idealistic architecture and untamed nature thrown up by her imaginary explorations. Her paintings are an invitation for escapism and some abstract musings.

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