On April 8, 2024, in Marseille, Vanillah Rajah Gopal, owner of the restaurant Le Petit Chamarel, was inducted as a disciple of Escoffier, one of the highest culinary honors. For this Mauritian, who is also the ambassador of Mauritian cuisine in France, this recognition is a true consecration of her dedication to the culinary art.

She is passionate about cooking.
She is passionate about cooking.

Vanillah Rajah Gopal, 46, mother of an 18-year-old son, radiates happiness. “I am extremely happy to now be a disciple of Escoffier. Moreover, I am proud to point out that my establishment is the only one in Marseille to bear this honor. I am even more delighted to be able to promote Mauritian cuisine in France,” confides Vanillah Rajah Gopal.

Since the opening of her restaurant on May 15, 2021, she has highlighted the richness of Mauritian cuisine. On the menu: a variety of iconic dishes, such as chicken curry, fried mine, reversed bowl, sausage rougaille, octopus stew, lentils, briani and many more.

“In my establishment, I offer typically Mauritian cuisine, while adding my personal touch. My menu, which I renew every two weeks, offers an authentic culinary experience rich in flavors. My clients, mainly Mauritian, but also French and other nationalities, appreciate this diversity,” she explains.

Despite the success of her dishes, Vanillah Rajah Gopal, who has lived in France for 25 years, has never followed professional training in cooking. Self-taught, she acquired the basics of this culinary art from her grandmother. Originally from Stanley Rose-Hill, she grew up with her grandparents, Devi and Samoogon Ramasami. However, it was his grandmother who was his mentor and who passed on his passion for cooking.

“When I was young, I would watch my grandmother cook and try to copy her recipes. At the time, I never imagined I would get into this field. In my restaurant, I revisited all of my grandmother's cooking, adding my personal touch. For example, the Vanillah-style burger bun is a bun topped with a 'catelesse', grilled pineapple and a mint sauce, thus creating a unique combination of flavors,” she says.

She revisits her grandmother's recipes.
She revisits her grandmother's recipes.

After finishing high school, Vanillah Rajah Gopal landed a job in the bakery department of a supermarket in Beau-Bassin. Subsequently, after her marriage, she moved to France with her husband, where she worked as a kindergarten assistant. However, it is the quality of his little dishes, prepared for his friends, which attracts attention and arouses enthusiasm among those close to him.

“My friends kept telling me that I should open my own restaurant, because my dishes were so popular. But it wasn't until December 15, 2019 that I finally made this dream come true by opening my restaurant. Unfortunately, a few months later I had to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We reopened our doors in May 2021, and today, we are the only Mauritian restaurant in Marseille,” explains Vanillah Rajah Gopal with pride.

She confides that her fellow Mauritians are delighted to find a little piece of their island in her restaurant and through her dishes. “Guests often tell me of their appreciation for the warm welcome we give them in our establishment. To the sound of Sega, they have a pleasant time during their visit. I invest myself with passion and love, whether in welcoming customers or in preparing dishes. Besides, I am a positive person and I like to share my good humor with others,” she concludes.

Being a disciple of Escoffier involves following the teachings and culinary principles established by Auguste Escoffier, an eminent French chef of the early 20th century. Escoffier left his mark on the history of gastronomy by introducing new cooking techniques and organizing the profession of chef in a methodical way. Escoffier's disciples are generally committed to respecting his standards of quality, organization and excellence in cooking. They can also join organizations or associations that perpetuate Escoffier's legacy and promote his influence on contemporary cuisine. Being a disciple of Escoffier implies an attachment to the chef's values ​​and culinary vision, as well as a commitment to perpetuating his legacy in the world of cuisine.

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