Ventrus: “Local Ingredients, <br> Welcoming and Nomadic”

Ventrus: “Local Ingredients,
Welcoming and Nomadic”

It’s nice to see something different in the 21st century; to transcend the blacks and greys of reality. The founder of Ventrus travelling restaurant, Guillaume Chupeau, has always had a—wonderful—slightly devil-may-care attitude. It even made him leave his advertising career! Following years travelling around the world, his carefree tendencies gave him the idea for more of a personal project: Ventrus. Heart and soul have been poured into this adventure, which explores the edges of gastronomy, the environment and humanity from within a curved wooden structure in the heart of Parc de la Villette. This unique initial construction was designed by architect and philosopher François Muracciole. The entrepreneur wanted a building with a happy feel that “can go anywhere with beautiful views for a season. And then it moves somewhere else. Constantly [reinventing itself] with every new location”. It may only be in one place for a short time, but it still feels welcoming. This structure reminiscent of a UFO or a boat has brought many people together. First, there was the encounter between a humanist founder and his associate. Then, the coming together of inspired chefs who hunt down the very best ingredients and their producers who care about protecting their piece of the planet. Using these offerings, the chefs take a “personal, slightly unusual approach” that’s “fuss-free” and allows their imaginations to run wild in a bid to delight every diner with “market cuisine that’s creative and carefully balanced”. Anyone feeling curious who’s in search of simplicity and flavour should be pleased! And, who knows? Ventrus might well reach more people with these “curved little bellies [travelling] the world, [clearing the way for] incredible views and [connecting] precious regional produce”.

You can find the Ventrus restaurant this autumn 2022 at the Parc de la Villette – All. du Canal, 75019 Paris – and this summer in the Camargue, at the Château d’Avignon, 13460 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Reservations by telephone on 09 86 87 18 97 or on their website www.ventrus.fr/home-en

Terrasse extérieure en bois restaurant Ventru Parc de la Villette
Restaurant en bois Ventru au Parc la Villette
Tables en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au Parc la Villette
Salle de service dans le restaurant Ventrus au Parc la Villette Ventrus: “Local Ingredients, <br> Welcoming and Nomadic” Ventrus: “Local Ingredients, <br> Welcoming and Nomadic”
  • Guillaume and François: can you introduce yourselves, please?
Guillaume
I am often told that my mind is elsewhere. It’s true; I do daydream a lot. My mind wanders from the next meal with friends, to what I’m going to put in my casserole, to the winegrowers I’m dreaming of meeting and bewildering with my questions, to the next trip, to other places, to other things. So it took me a long time to turn my restaurant dream into reality. To come down to earth. But now that I’m here, I’m living the dream, so I’m a happy man.
François
I’m a DLPG Architect; I love doing things I don’t know how to do: inventing, thinking and giving meaning to what I build. It is not easy to find project owners who really follow me; often, they only pretend to understand. With Ventrus, Guillaume’s request was precise and focused and eventually led to a shared trust that is typical as such a project unfolds. I get carried away by the other person’s dream, and I pay little attention to the administrative contingencies that aim to manage the lack of vision of those who defend them. Guillaume has a certain candour that allowed him to convey this dream, and this is also what touched me.
  • What is your background?
Guillaume

I used to be in advertising. For a long time, I loved my job: I travelled a lot, I met a lot of people. In New York, in New Orleans, in Japan. It left me with a deep desire to discover more and more and never stay put. One day the itch was too strong, and I decided to change my path. To build my dream, my ship. Bringing together all my desires, all the things that make me happy. I still can’t believe that being at the helm of Ventrus has become my job.

François
Determined to resist the prevailing dullness, I try to devote myself as much as possible to bring others’ dreams to fruition, enriching them with my own through my ability to see space in three dimensions, especially at night, as well as my capacity to deal with those who have to give it substance. I’ve scarcely worked in any other agency. I developed my own particular practice linking design, prototyping and construction by creating my own studio when I left school. My construction kit is composed of a multitude of tools ranging from pencils to hammers … my projects are driven more or less by one or the other. They can be of great richness or cause the greatest of disappointments. The fact that man is capable of twisting his brain to harm others astounds me, and this pre-neurotic version of life astounds me in the middle of humanity’s xxxth millennium. I live in the hope that my architecture helps to unscramble some brains, to make people happy, which surely steers them away from their tendency to be evil.
  • Guillaume, tell us about the concept behind your restaurant Ventrus.
Guillaume
Ventrus is many things at once. This is a restaurant that one shouldn’t be able to get enough of. Never.Because it lands for a season wherever the view is beautiful. And then it goes away. Because it constantly reinvents itself according to the terroir in which it is established. Because the chefs who succeed each other in the kitchen are free to write their own chapter (as long as everything is homemade, creative and sourced as much as possible from local producers). So, Ventrus is a restaurant that earns the right to set up shop in beautiful locations. Because when you want to settle in the natural environment, it is essential to respect the places that welcome you and to depart without leaving any traces, on tiptoe. And beyond that, a whole work in continuous progress on water saving, respect for the environment, waste, upcycling of kitchen equipment and tomorrow, energy. As long as it is possible to do better, we will try to do better. Finally, Ventrus is a state of mind and is a way of doing things that I hope to be able to extend to several structures in the months and years to come. So that lots of little bellies can wander around the world, discovering incredible sights and revisiting priceless terroirs.
Ouvertures au rest
Comptoir en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc la Villette Salle de service en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Vilette Guillaume Chupeau et François Muracciole dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette
Assiettes et vaisselle dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc la Villette
Plafond en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc de la Villette
Tables en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette Tables en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette
  • You define the context of your project as: Locavore, benevolent and itinerant”. How do these three adjectives resonate with you? 
Guillaume
At first, I was obsessed with the idea of benevolence. I wanted to do things right, and respectfully. Surrounded by my suppliers, the people who work with me, and the customers, of course. It had to come from the heart, and it had to come back to the heart. Then mobility became the order of the day. I chose a new life for myself. It had to continue to inspire me, to open me up, to expose me to other places, to other people. And finally, there was no question of setting up somewhere without honouring the local heritage, the producers who perpetuate unique skills and knowledge, and the richness of the local soil. This is how the three values: Locavore, Benevolent and Itinerant, gradually became apparent to me.
  • Who did you work with to make it all happen? 
Guillaume
François was very important in the process. He gave Ventrus a shape. I still remember the day he gave me the model of the structure. I couldn’t believe it. It was 30 cm long, but it was a guarantee that the project would exist because it already existed in a certain form. Then Mohammed, my partner, joined us. I was quite alone at the helm of this project and even though it’s a personal project, being alone isn’t really my cup of tea. So when I met him two weeks before the opening of the restaurant, I immediately felt the load lighten! First of all, he’s extremely competent: he knows how to run a restaurant whereas I’m still a beginner. And then, he is straightforward, funny, and has a sunny disposition! He pours his energy into this shared vision we have of Ventrus. A fortune-teller once told him that he was going to meet someone he was going to work with. And I believe that yes, we will do things! (laughs) Finally, for the producers and the chefs, it’s very simple: I want flavour. I want a carrot to taste like a carrot. I want the chard to taste like chard. This can only be found among people who work cleanly, who respect the land, the animals and the people. And I want creativity. It would be great if people could eat very simply and well at home and only go to restaurants to be surprised. So with the chefs who come to cook with us, I look for a personal, somewhat original style. But people who are careful not to make it too complicated. I have nothing against sophistication, but it’s not in the nature of Ventrus to be too fancy. We cultivate a degree of bonhomie even on the plate.
  • Why did you choose to go to the Parc de la Villette?
Guillaume
Because they are the first crazy people who agreed to welcome us. And I will be eternally grateful to them for that. It was magical, the lights on the canals, the hum of a park, not a car. We felt really good there.
Verres à pied dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette
Suspensions et murs en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc de la Villette Suspensions et murs en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc de la Villette
Ventrus: “Local Ingredients, <br> Welcoming and Nomadic”
Tables en bois et baies vitrées dans le parc de la Villette
Salle de service en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc la Villette
  • Who is this place aimed at?
Guillaume
Everyone. I like to think that everyone has the right to eat delicious, well-made food in a lovely place. Walk through the door of this intriguing restaurant, and your curiosity will be rewarded. So obviously, this is an experience that has a cost for us. It comes at a price.
  • And what is on offer? 
Guillaume
It changes all the time, according to the seasons. I often talk about creative, well-balanced market cuisine. I realise that we have a lot of vegetables too, vegetables that taste good!
  • François, what were the specifications for the wooden structure? 
François

A demountable building that could enjoy the most beautiful views in the world because it is temporary! A place where we could leave the commonplace behind, and that would transport us elsewhere for the duration of a meal and remind us of our consubstantial transience in the face of the eternity of nature.

  • What inspirations guided you in designing this cabin-like structure? 
François
Cabin or flying saucer? I don’t know; I’ve heard several people rave about bellies, each using their own eyes, their own imagination, and I like that. As for its pot-bellied aspect, certainly, if the project had been called “the anorexics”, I would have drawn it very differently… contrary to what some kinds of architecture show, my job feeds on technical, dreamlike and sometimes even administrative constraints, even though they are less fun because they are too often fed by the frustrations of those who aren’t involved.
  • How did you want to integrate it into the landscape? Was your aim to blend it into its background or, on the contrary, to work with it to make it stand out?
François
Both! To melt away and disappear, sliding into a benevolent natural setting, or, alternatively, to assert our humanity in the face of Mother Nature, which cradles us in spite of our childish foolishness.
  • Where will we see you in the coming months?
Guillaume
In the Camargue from June to September before returning to La Villette in the autumn.
Suspension florale dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc la Villette
Salle de service en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette Salle de service en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette

Cabin or flying saucer? I don’t know; I’ve heard several people rave about bellies, each using their own eyes, their own imagination, and I like that.

Fenêtre dans le restaurant en bois Ventrus au parc de la Villette
Extérieur en bois dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc de la Villette
Fenêtre dans le restaurant Ventrus dans le parc de la Villette
Extérieur du restaurant Ventrus au parc de la Villette

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