Carlotta With, <br> “Culinary Apothecary”

Carlotta With,
“Culinary Apothecary”

There’s sense of transmission in Carlotta With’s cuisine! As Charlotte Crousillat – entrepreneur at the head of this hybrid restaurant in Marseille – shares with us, her inspiration in designing her menu comes from her family tree, figures as much maternal as paternal that the young woman calls upon spontaneously. From Maria, her Romanian great-grandmother with her generous Mediterranean dishes, to her mother, a health food enthusiast who once lived in California and a fan of foods made from “seeds, alternative flours, vegan cakes and slow cooking methods”. But beyond influence, it’s also the nutritional and “functional” approach that concerns this daughter and sister of professional athletes,  mentors the young woman grew up with who shaped her world. It was a world rich in flavours that this Marseillaise was already documenting in a “bible” as a child. She continues to archive these dazzling delicacies, so she can share them with as many people as possible at 4 boulevard Vauban,  in a setting with a brutalist type of charm that she designed along with her cousin and architect, Raphaël Mougel. It’s here that we’ve come to sample her “alternative cuisine” while leafing through a book and ending the dining experience with the purchase of an item from the delicatessen. Mostly local and in season, each ingredient found on her plates as well as for sale on her shelves is sublimated while respecting the themes that are so near and dear to the chef: in particular, her very focused experiments with colours and flowers. Raw ingredients that formerly came from her own vegetable garden are now sourced by the young woman from producers throughout the region. The care she brings to her sourcing denotes her interest in “wellness” recipes, which are concerned with the health of her customers and with responsibly living up to the restaurant’s name as a “culinary apothecary”. A penchant for sharing and for curiosity is in Carlotta With’s DNA which also tends to be shared outside the restaurant’s four walls through the founder’s catering business. So many opportunities for culinary explorations which, once again, put her sense of aesthetics and surprise for all palates to the test!

Carlotta With, 84 Bd Vauban, 13006 – Marseille. Open Moday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and from 6:00 to 11:00 pm. Reservations can be made by calling 09 72 59 49 71 or on the website at www.carlottawith.com/.

Comptoir bar Carlotta With Marseille
Canapé et tables Carlotta With Marseille
Cafetière chez Carlotta With à Marseille

Charlotte, can you introduce yourself, please?

Charlotte

I am from Marseille of Italian origin on my mother’s side and Corsican on my father’s side. I grew up in a family where cooking had a double function; it was both a way of sharing love and generosity but also had a “functional” character. There are a lot of top sportspeople in my family, and eating also had to be geared towards physical performance. Later, I realised that it could also be used for well-being and intellectual performance.

What is your background?

Charlotte

I first studied finance at the University of Paris Dauphine, then did a gap year in New York in marketing and finished with a Master’s degree (still at Dauphine) in entrepreneurship. My final internship was setting up my own restaurant, Carlotta With! So this may sound strange, but I have no experience other than setting up my own businesses (my restaurant and my bespoke catering service). Having said that, I’ve been passionate about cooking and entrepreneurship since I was a little girl. I had no idea what my job would be later on, but I said I was sure I wanted to “create my own world”.

Tell us how your Carlotta With gourmet project came about?

Charlotte

It was really during my year in New York that I developed my restaurant and “alternative cuisine” project. I imagined a world where you could genuinely eat well in restaurants, not just good food, but food that is good for you. That nuance is very important to me. There are a huge number of chefs from the older generation who are capable of creating spectacular dishes using products that we now know are not very beneficial to health: sugars and white flours, egg products, additives, and so on. Initially, I thought of creating a label for restaurants that would guarantee the quality of the taste and the supply as well as the health aspect, as much in terms of the selection of raw materials as in the cooking processes, preservation methods, etc. But at the time I was living with a family whose mother, Frédérique, was a jewellery designer (Ginette NY) and it was she who really pushed me to start: I spent my free time cooking, and she kept telling me that I absolutely had to do this with my life! I applied for my Master’s degree with a proposal that was very similar to Carlotta With, I was accepted and that’s when it all started.

Charlotte Crousillat dans son restaurant à Marseille
Canapé en velours chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Brioches étalage Carlotta With à Marseille

I first studied finance at the University of Paris Dauphine, then did a gap year in New York in marketing and finished with a Master’s degree (still at Dauphine) in entrepreneurship.

Cafetière et café chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Canapé et tables chez Carlotta With à Marseille

A “Culinary apothecary”, but also a delicatessen: your establishment is a place with a hybrid identity and a variety of designations Please explain their meaning to us.

Charlotte

For me, these are word games, orientations of thought. I am not really an apothecary, the “natural” ancestor of the pharmacy, but using that word allows us to say that our way of cooking and the choice of products we use reflect our determination to contribute to a balance, to well-being and to a positive vision of health for our customers.The significance of the delicatessen is derived from this: a delicatessen is originally a grocery shop and food provider. The products we offer in the grocery shop are exactly the same as those we use in the kitchen. This hybrid identity, this grocery shop aspect, allows us to be very transparent about our raw materials, and also to create a link with our customers. They ask us for advice about the different products, how we cook them, and in return, we share recipes with them. This reassures them about the quality of what we serve and allows us to be as transparent as possible but in a very natural way, without overdoing it.

How do you prepare your mostly plant-based menus?

Charlotte

I’ve been keeping a “bible” since I was a little girl with recipes for dishes that have made an impression on me. Dishes that I’ve tasted on my travels, that I’ve tried or that I want to try. At the same time, I have a little notebook in which I am constantly writing down inspirations for creations that come to mind. At the same time, I spend a lot of time experimenting with food without any specific goal, and just listening to my intuition. And I write research notebooks based on these tests, for example, “Spring 2022 research, research into chromatic menus, research into plant-based ice cream…”. There are lots of things that I don’t use immediately, but I know I’ll need them later. That’s why I need to write everything down. When I create a menu, I put myself in a bubble, I make a mix of everything, and it always comes out quite fluidly, as if I had already written it in my head.

Here, holistic medicine dictates what happens in the kitchen, especially when cooking the food being prepared. Why did you choose to follow these principles?

Charlotte

My mum lived in California, and my older brother and I were brought up on seeds, alternative flours, vegan cakes and slow food! That’s part of our ethos. And as I said before, my father and brother were professional athletes, so diet was really important. I wanted to adapt these principles and apply them to a very generous, Mediterranean, sunny cuisine, the sort of cooking I grew up with through my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I would say to myself, “I want it to be incredibly good and generous like Maria, my great-grandmother, made it, and I want it to be as healthy and nutritious as my mum’s version.” This is still my guideline when I create a new recipe.

Trash wall chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Étagères murales chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Trash wall chez Carlotta With à Marseille

I’ve been keeping a “bible” since I was a little girl with recipes for dishes that have made an impression on me. Dishes that I’ve tasted on my travels, that I’ve tried or that I want to try.

Plat chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Carlotta With, <br> “Culinary Apothecary”

You also take particular care in sourcing your products. Who do you rely on to supply your kitchens with the raw materials?

Charlotte

I started by meeting lots of producers in the region, and planting fruit, vegetables and herbs in my garden (I don’t have a vegetable garden any more, because it was impossible to manage along with my restaurant). But I always give priority to the relationship with the producers. It is very important to understand how they work, and their relationship to the land in general. I’ve been working with most of them since the very beginning. Now there are also associations that collect food from producers and this facilitates a high-quality supply to restaurants. When I meet a new producer with whom I would like to work, I immediately put them in contact with the local farmers’ organisation (one of the associations) which already delivers to us every Wednesday. My ultimate goal is to be able to put a face to every ingredient we use. For local produce, we can mostly do this already, but it is obviously more difficult for products from far away, like chocolate and sugar, for example, although things are moving, and I am sure that this goal will soon be achieved. Bernadette and Alex, founders of Zone Bleue, do this work of sourcing from all over the world, providing wonderful exotic products while maintaining a close relationship with each artisan.

84 Bd Vauban also offers a catering service and culinary workshops. Activities that involve sharing. What value do you place on the notion of handing over knowledge in the kitchen?

Charlotte

I always say that there is only one person who taught me how to cook, and that is my great-grandmother Maria. Her cooking was distinctive in that it was very varied and unconventional. She was Roman, lived in France and was married to a Spaniard of Algerian origin. I never saw her do anything but cook, set the table, clear away, tidy the kitchen and start again. Everything I knew when I started this job, I learned from her. I regret so much that I didn’t learn EVERYTHING she could do, and I think that’s why I need to write everything down, to keep it all. Although the best way of passing things on is through communication with the person, through “doing things together”, much more than through recipe books. I still do a lot of bespoke catering because it’s really about sharing and co-creating with my clients. We share a lot. I try to understand what their deepest desire is, as much in the atmosphere as in the format or the menu, and I create based on their wishes. Last week, we had a job for a shampoo brand that was very committed to ecology. We created a menu using only local ingredients and did some wild picking in the Calanques park. The menu was also chromatic, orange and white, reflecting the colours of the brand. At the moment I am working for another client on a menu that is like a ‘nature walk’ where no two people at the dinner will eat exactly the same dish, in the same way that no two people would ever come across exactly the same flower when walking in the countryside… My great-grandmother was able to bring us all together at the same table and create something unique for each of us, I still have that drive inside me. On the other hand, I don’t do many cooking workshops any more, due to lack of time, but I am working on another way of passing on the knowledge!

Étagères murales chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Pâtisserie chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Fleurs chez Carlotta With à Marseille

I always say that there is only one person who taught me how to cook, and that is my great-grandmother Maria. Her cooking was distinctive in that it was very varied and unconventional.

Terrasse chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Table avec bouquet chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Plat Carlotta With à Marseille

Bookshop, bar: your establishment is not only a place for tasting but also for well-being and relaxation. How did you design the different spaces?

Charlotte

The individual spaces are not separated from each other. I imagined them as a whole. You can go to my restaurant without realising that it is also a culinary bookshop, a grocery shop… and it can actually catch your eye. It all depends on what you are looking for. When I created this place, I wanted the restaurant to be a destination, meaning that people would go there primarily for the food. Everything beyond that is a plus: something to nibble on for this evening’s aperitif, a souvenir to take home, ingredients for a dish to make again at home, a book that we enjoyed leafing through during our lunch, a bottle of olive oil as the finishing touch to our stay in Provence… So there is no predefined path or space, it’s very free, and I try to make sure that the experience is different for each customer, that everyone can find a little bit of what they like.

Brutalist and urban, the decoration at Carlotta With is also vintage. What inspirations guided the design of the premises?

Charlotte

I worked in collaboration with the architect Raphaël Mougel (who is also my cousin) for the layout and decoration. We combined our two worlds, which were sometimes contradictory: this gave us what we have today, a very simple place, minimalist in the choice of materials and in the renovation, but which also exudes a lot of warmth and softness, with rooms full of history, more luxurious rooms amidst others which are very simple, very rough. I am thinking, for example, of the terrazzo counter with its brass and copper inlay, set on a bar whose visible mechanical system is simply covered by an iron grille. We recently worked with designer Marion Chabot to create a metal chain curtain to hide the kitchen entrance. This one is inspired by coils of gold chain, like those often found in the jewellery industry (jewellery being the other world that fascinates me after cooking). I believe that Raphaël and I share this fondness for metal: he for its unrefined side, I for its precious side. I’m often told that it’s like being in New York when you walk into my restaurant. It’s funny because I don’t have a specific place in mind that’s inspired me, but I guess my experience of living there must have influenced my decorative choices.

Where will we see you next?

Charlotte

From 22 June, from Wednesday to Saturday evening, in the kitchen of my restaurant and from Sunday to Tuesday, on the road around the Mediterranean, for private and tailor-made events.

Terrasse avec chaise rouge chez Carlotta With à Marseille
Carlotta With, <br> “Culinary Apothecary”

Deco inspiration...

Jogging Samena, <br>A Philosophy of Humility

Jogging Samena,
A Philosophy of Humility

Emerging from the immaculate rocks bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Jogging Samena warms itself under the Marseille sun. A former remnant of the industrial site of Samena which later became a cottage, it’s now available as a rental and an...

You may also like

Aucun comment

Add your comment