Sète: Jean Brunelin, the nostalgic of traditional Sète cuisine

Jean Brunelin is perhaps one of the most emblematic characters of Sète.Proud of the traditional cuisine, he has written many articles about it and has created a Facebook group called “Défendons la cuisine sétoise”.

What’s your relationship with the kitchen? I started in Sète with equipment and utensils that I bought second-hand, after a few years I had four restaurants, including one in Ibiza. In Sète again, I ran the croque-sel and for 20 years La Marine.

When we were kids, we’d go to La Baraquette with our friends, we’d have surprise parties. I was the one who was known for cooking.

What was your childhood in Sète? It was the end of the war. I was born at the Liberation. It was all broken and bombed out. I was in La Pointe Courte. It’s a neighbourhood where all the families went fishing.

I’m not chauvinistic, I’m a man from Sète but I’ve lived all over the world, but I like to tell the real Sète.

La Pointe Courte, a former fishermen’s quarter in Sète. – Midi Libre – DR

Why did you create the Facebook group “defense of Sète cuisine”?

I realized that the Pointe’s cuisine, as the historic population was disappearing, was in decline, and every time a restaurant in the harbour was selling out, the young man was making top chef there.

I started the band 7 or 8 years ago and my goal is to give the real recipes to the millimeter and tell their story.

Do we still have to defend Sète’s cuisine today? If we defend it, it gets lost.

What do you think of the new influences in Sète? The influences are pretty much behind us. There have been some very important ones: the Italian, Spanish and blackfoot influences.

Are you nostalgic? Fatally. We were poor but we were happy. At La Pointe Courte, when an old man was alone, he wasn’t alone for long. We lived in safety here. Today, it’s everyone’s skin. When I left La Pointe, I despised Sète.I wanted to see the world and today, as I get older, I come back here, it’s my happiness. Belonging to a family and having roots is a huge thing. There’s nothing better than the culture you belong to.

What do you think of the region’s wines? For a very long time, even the winegrowers said that they were making the vines piss. At the time, we used to ask for table wine. But the Languedoc was the biggest French terroir in terms of surface area. Today, it started about twenty years ago, we make quality. We have wines that are worth great Bordeaux. They taste like garrigue, stone.

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