Saturday, September 7, 2013

At Home on the Range

Here’s a recipe for a wonderful evening out in Provence: mix equal parts food, wine, music and storytelling…then season with a bit of spicy language and top with a sprinkling of whimsy.  

The finished dish is a “culinary performance” called Ma Puce à Table! (come to the table, little one!), but chef Yvan Cadiou tends to call it “my mad cooking show” instead. It happens at the Théâtre de la Cartonnerie in Marseille on September 12th and 13th, from 8 to 10 pm.

Each evening, 300 people will come out to watch Yvan cook on stage, while they eat and drink, enjoy live music and hear Yvan spin his tales. “The show is the story of my life as a chef…my adventures,” he says. “It’s the first of its kind in France. I created it in Paris for the contemporary theater Le Centquatre and it played there in March and September last year, with great success!”

In Marseille, Yvan will weave his best memories and anecdotes into a funny, poignant performance, touching on his childhood, his children, his parents, his dreams, the art of eating, the life of a chef, his passion for wine and more…as though the entire audience were friends seated round his kitchen table. At the same time, he’ll be cooking 300 portions of penne “risotto” with crayfish and vegetables on nine electric woks. Yvan will actually offer the audience what he calls “five eating moments,” meaning he’ll serve five dishes, with the help of two assistants and 15 culinary/hotel students. (Actually four of the dishes will have been prepared ahead, but never mind.)

For 15 years, this peripatetic Brittany-born chef traveled the world: cooking, eating, learning. He spent time in 14 countries--Jamaica,  Martinique, Guadeloupe, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Gibralter and Hong Kong among them--where he toiled in luxury-hotel kitchens, casinos and private homes and sampled all the local foods. That left him with a passion for ethnic ingredients and a global culinary view, which infuses much of his cooking today.  

Then he settled down in Marseille and opened a 20-seat restaurant. But this is not someone who does just one thing at a time, ever. He appeared on TV 300-plus times, wrote books, consulted to food companies, endorsed products and started a family.  For the last 14 months, Yvan has been living near St. Remy de Provence, where he welcomes enthusiastic eaters into his home for morning or late-afternoon cooking classes, which are followed by a meal. Fresh, seasonal ingredients come from his ever-expanding garden, enhanced by the best fish, poultry, meat and game he can source. He also teaches cooking to kids, does private cheffing, stages cooking parties and more, all of which let his huge personality shine through. Yvan expresses himself through food but he’s an artist and performer at heart. (For more on Yvan’s classes, click here and scroll down to “The Chef Invites You…” Or drop me a note at and I’ll send you all the info).

To accompany the culinary adventure on September 12 and 13, there will be three different wines served (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel and Rasteau) and a live soundtrack provided by musician friends on drums, bass, keyboard, guitar and a bagpipe-type instrument from Brittany.

The show will be in French, with a smattering of English if the crowd wants it; the chef’s English is perfect.  But even if you speak no French at all, he swears you’ll have tons of fun. (Oh and by the way, he swears…so leave the little kids at home.)

“You can laugh, cry, applaud, dream or just enjoy the food, wine and music,” he says. “It’s original.”

The show is produced in partnership with the Lycée des Métiers Régional Hôtelier de Marseille and has the imprimatur of Marseille Provence2013 (MP2013), a year-long program of hundreds of events celebrating the region as the European Capital of Culture. For more on Marseille Provence 2013 (MP2013) in English, click here.

Tickets for Ma Puce à Table are 25 per person. The Théâtre de la Cartonnerie is part of the arts complex at La Friche la Belle de Mai and is located at #41 rue Jobin. For ticket info, details, a map and more, click here. Yvan says arrive early to find parking because it can be a bit difficult. If you take the train, the theater is roughly a 15-minute walk from the Gare Saint-Charles.

And if you're heading for Marseille, check out the terrific feature story about the city from yesterday's New York Times, which you can see here.


  1. Now this sounds like a ton of fun. Sadly, I'll be in Nice. Does he do it anywhere else at any other time?

  2. Julie what a great event. This chef looks like he is genius and so talented!

    2013 Artists Series



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