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Nadia Sammut's Provence

Born in Lourmarin, in the beautiful Luberon, Nadia Sammut is the region’s first gluten-free Michelin-starred chef. A self-taught cook, Nadia is at the origin of the “Cuisine Libre” (Free Cuisine) movement, campaigning for healthy, environmentally-friendly food that contributes to changing the way we live. She talked to us about her beloved Provence.

How did the Cuisine Libre® project come about?

I grew up in the kitchen of La Fenière, a Michelin-starred auberge tucked away in the Luberon where my family concocted southern cuisine with love and generosity. The table was our favourite gathering place, but as I was gluten-intolerant, I always felt left out. My condition got worse year after year, then everything suddenly ground to a halt in 2009. I spent two years pinned to a bed. That’s when I decided to study the issue in depth. Food was the cause, so it had to be the solution too! And not only for me – I wanted to ensure nobody was excluded from meals in the future.

I gradually combined my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes with my own creations, until I was ready to create the first allergen-free restaurant, where everyone can sit down and enjoy their food without stress. Our cuisine is based exclusively on local produce and intelligently thought out hand-in-hand with the farmers and producers of the Luberon and Provence. It’s very important to do the groundwork well, to ensure the food contains no allergens and gain the trust of our clients. Auberge de La Fenière now has its own mill and houses a cooking school and shop (Kom&Sal) selling gluten and lactose-free flours and pastries. I’ve managed to transform my handicap into a source of happiness!

Paule Masson, sustainable food specialist: “Nadia isn’t content with just cooking. She concocts meals from A-Z that ensure perfect digestibility, nourish the body and mind, erase fatigue and bring inner peace. She is an advocate of living cuisine, anchored in the soil and made with living ingredients and wines… The world of tomorrow has planted solid roots here – free, natural and naturally-free roots that are set to branch out.”

Discover La Fenière

Discover Kom&Sal

 

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Une publication partagée par Kom & Sal (@komandsal)

 

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Une publication partagée par Kom & Sal (@komandsal)

So for you, cooking and Provence are a family affair?

Of course! La Fenière opened 45 years ago and the Sammut family has been welcoming guests, cooking, sharing, handing down and creating a delicious inter-generational world for 45 years – with love, enthusiasm and selflessness topped with a smile! And now it’s my turn to lead you into the tasty world of Cuisine Libre® and its living, vibrant and inspiring food – food whose DNA carries the love of my mother and grandmother and the aromas and tastes of a lifetime, like Proust’s Madeleines… The soil of Provence has fostered a whole series of culinary, artistic and life projects on how to better nourish people and create ethical ecosystems, or biomes, using seeds grown in nurtured soil, environmentally-friendly fishing and local farming where animal welfare is respected.

How has Provence – inspired your daily life and project?

My region is my anchor – my roots and my inspiration. It’s incredible being born here, because you grow up with close ties to the soil, the countryside and the people who have forged our territory. I love sharing my experiences through my businesses every day, driven by nostalgia and a desire to return to the core values of respect and happiness. My businesses are also deeply anchored in the region; they promote local skills and refuse opportunism. I love my home – the Luberon – and take time to simply observe it every day. I’m here to contribute in my own heartfelt, sincere way.

Discover the Luberon

 

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What are your 3 favourite spots in Provence ?

Lourmarin, my cradle! The whole world comes here and everyone loves it, so we need to protect, cherish and care for it. I love wandering around the village lanes, sitting down near the old washtub and roaming Place de l’Eglise or the path leading to the castle temple. I spent my whole childhood here and I still visit a lot.

– The beautifully-preserved Ensuès-la-Redonne fjords (calanques) You feel safe there in the loving company of the locals.

Discover the Côte Bleue

Camargue, where you can climb on a horse and time stands still… It’s also the home of the gastronomic restaurant Le Mas de Peint run by my friends the Bon family.

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If you had to sum up Provence in one word?

Happiness