Roger Verge, one of France’s most well known culinary figures and one of the original owners of Les Chefs de France at Epcot, died Friday at his home in Mougins. He was 85.

Verge and fellow French cooks Gaston LeNotre and Paul Bocuse, opened Les Chefs de France and its sister restaurant, Bistro de Paris, at Walt Disney World in 1983. They are credited with bringing French cuisine to thousands of Americans and other world travelers, though few who dine at the Epcot restaurants are ever really aware that they are eating in a restaurant owned by celebrity chefs. LeNotre, who made his name as a pastry chef, died in 2009. Bocuse is 88, and although his son and grandchild live in Orlando, where he also kept a house, he seldom leaves his home near Lyon.

Verge’s restaurant, Moulin de Mougins, earned its third Michelin star in 1974. He was known for advancing Mediterranean style French cooking and he considered vegetables a forte. Such well known chefs as David Bouley and Daniel Boulud cooked under him. He sold his restaurant and retired in 2003.

“He was a great chef, very creative, a gentleman,” said Bruno Vrignon, executive chefs at the France pavilion at Epcot. “And generous. I have great memories of when we were together.”

Although all three chefs often made regular visits to their Walt Disney World restaurants in the early years — I have a wonderful memory of a lunch with all three of them as they argued, in French, over the best way to roast a pepper — Verge had not made the trip for several years. The business is now overseen by Bocuse’s son, Jerome.


Fonfon cove

MARSEILLE — In Marseille, it’s all about that bouillabaisse.

They take their bouillabaisse very seriously here. That’s because this is the place where it was first realized. And if the only bouillabaisse you know is the kind that is served in American restaurants, you’d find it a bit different in Marseille.

For one thing, the fish is about the freshest you’ll ever be served, right off the boat. And I mean that quite literally, because at some restaurants, like Chez FonFon, the restaurant I selected to experience my bouillabaisse during my visit, the boats pull up right outside the door and offer their catch for sale. Even in the center of the Vieux Port in the heart of Marseille, the boats pull up to vendors who have set up tables next to the dock and hand them buckets of fish, which they clean, slice and offer to their customers, chefs, perhaps, but also home cooks looking for the evening’s meal.

FonFon is known for its bouillabaisse, but it is not one of the high-profile restaurants that line the three sides of the port. There are some good restaurants there, such as Miramar, where my companion and I had a terrific first dinner, but there are also the typical tourist spots with truly uninspired food. (Never assume that just because you’re in France you can’t get a bad meal; been there, ate that.)

FonFon was a short ride along the Corniche, the road that runs next to the sea on the cliffs just south of the city center. But we found it a world away.


Hamilton supper club

Our next Supper Club will be at Hamilton’s Kitchen on Wednesday, July 15, at 6:30. Our hosts will be chef Marc Kusche and his team at the Alfond Inn, a facility I’m becoming more and more enamored of each time I visit.

The cost of the dinner would be $162 per person, but the special Scott Joseph Supper Club price is $95 plus tax. Gratuity is included.

Click here to see the menu highlights and to purchase your tickets. I’ll look forward to seeing you on the 15th. Attendance is limited to 45 persons, so don’t delay.


 artisans interior

Artisan’s Table, the downtown restaurant owned and head-cheffed by Scott Copeland, has a pleasant vibe on Sunday mornings. It’s a decidedly young crowd, and I got the distinct impression that some of them had not yet been home since the night before. At least not to their own homes.

My guest and I were shown to a dark table in the center of the dining room. When we asked if we could possibly have the empty table next to the window overlooking Pine Street, she told us that they were waiting for clean butcher paper (which is what covers the tablecloths here) and that that paper was too dirty. There was no offer to seat us at one of the other, less dimly lit tables, so we alighted.