It has been an exciting few years for Jean Imbert. At the very start of 2022, the French chef took over from the force that is Alain Ducasse as head chef at Plaza Athénée’s signature Marlon Brando’s iconic island retreat.
And what a coveted role it must be: The Brando is, by all standards, one of the world’s most luxurious vacation destinations. Adored by the world’s richest and most famous travelers – Oprah, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Obamas are all said to be fans – the paradisical Polynesian resort is the epitome of exclusivity.
After just shy of a year in the top job, Imbert has recently relaunched The Brando’s signature restaurant – Le Mutinés – with an all-new design to match the all-new menu. Designed to take guests on a carefully mapped journey, Imbert’s latest offering to the gastronomical world is an homage to the infamous HMS Bounty, as well as Marlon Brando’s 1962 movie on the ship’s story, Mutiny on the Bounty.
Le Mutinés’ redesign is the real pull of the restaurant’s relaunch. Imagined by acclaimed architect Rémi Tessier (who previously collaborated with Imbert on the Plaza Athénée restaurant), the influence of Mutiny on the Bounty is immediate with guests greeted by a vintage movie poster.
Inside, the restaurant is dimly lit and sophisticated, without losing any of its charming island charm. The roof, in particular, is a real reference to the nautical influence: Vaulted and wood-paneled, the finished effect is exactly like that of an upturned hull.
Imbert hasn’t allowed these influences to entirely reign supreme, however; his signature staples, particularly a large central table which is a common feature at all of his restaurants, still shine through. Crafted from a single slab of marble, this commandeering table sits below an equally attention-grabbing handmade chandelier, crafted from thousands of crystals as a replica of that on Bounty.
Affectionately referred to as chef to the stars thanks to his notoriously A-list inner circle (who better to run the culinary program at a resort like The Brando, then?), Imbert has proved that he is far more than just a media darling and actually, is a chef very much worth his salt.
Imbert trained at L’Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, opened his first restaurant at 22, has co-owned restaurants with none other than Pharrell Williams, and has even been enlisted to help run LVMH’s culinary programs. His CV means business.
We could safely assume, though, that it was taking over at Plaza Athénée that acted at Imbert’s biggest challenge to date, and his appointment was met with nothing short of blatant criticism. Some of the biggest names in the biz were saying, basically, ‘Who is he to take over from Ducasse?’
Critics firmly proved wrong (Jean Imbert at Plaza Athénée has only retained one of its three stars but it is generally agreed that he has not Made a Mess Of It), Imbert is taking a bit more of a relaxed but no less refined approach at The Brando – the island way of life was bound to rub off.
Offered in tasting menu form, Imbert’s new menu at Le Mutinés follows Bounty’s long and famously troubled journey, from her departure from England in 1787 to her eventual arrival in Tahiti. Each dish acts as a stop on this journey, beginning with ‘Departure’ and leading into ‘The Storm’ and ‘In Hiding.’
In line with The Brando’s ambitious sustainability objectives, Imbert calls on the bounty of the resort’s own vegetable garden which allows the chef to offer a true garden-to-plate experience. Naturally, the ocean plays a key influence too: Diners can expect to enjoy plenty of local seafood.
“I’m proud to have been able to create the map I imagined, one that tells the true story of the Bounty, of Marlon Brando, while using the wonders that nature offers us on site, ” said Imbert in press materials ahead of Le Mutinés’ reopening.