By Florian Puche
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A new page of history will open for the castle of Tesnières at Torcenear Vitré. South African Chantel Dartnallchef bought, with his family, the building to install a gourmet restaurant and a hotel. Meeting with the owner places.
The French accent is still hesitant, but Chantel Dartnall makes herself understood. In her huge residence at the Château des Tesnières in Torcé, the South African is in the middle of a construction site. The plans for the garden are on the large wooden table in one of the chateau’s salons. In other rooms, furniture freshly arrived fromSouth Africa are stored in numbers.
Outside, we plant trees, we arrange flowerbeds, we tinker. Inside, we take care of the administrative tasks. Phone calls, video calls. One eye on the plans and another on the progress of the construction site. In short, we can clearly see that it weave something at the castle of Tesnières.
A castle of 1.5 million euros
This boiling is the work of Chantel Dartnall. Since last summer, this chef from International fame has put its paw in Tesnières. A property put up for sale in 2020 by the former owners, Siebren and John Demandt-Boon, two Dutch present since the early 2000s. Worth1.5 million euros on the ad, it took nearly a year and a half before finding a buyer. But for Chantel Dartnall, it was obvious. “We wanted to leave South Africa to settle in France. We watched lots of ads for days on end. When we saw this one, we did not hesitate. »
From South Africa, Chantel Dartnall is leading the takeover. She first sends friends to visit the castle for her: “They took lots of photos and videos. But we always asked for more. We thought the place was great for our future project. »
She gets in touch with the former owners who praise the assets of the residence to her, then comes the time of the visit with his family.
When we saw the place, it was perfect. It was exactly what we were looking for.
Chantel Dartnall is no stranger to the kitchen world. Its success story begins in 2006 when she bought her first restaurant in Pretoria. A true cooking artist, she seduces very quickly to reach the Graal in 2017. She will be elected best female chef in the world.
The awards will even follow, his restaurant will be one of the 100 best restaurants in the world according to the ranking of The list in 2017, 2018, 2019a site that lists the best gourmet restaurants on the planet.
Suffice to say that she is a virtuoso who has just moved to Torcé. Her style, she describes it herself: “Chic, feminine, botanical and calm. » For 15 years, she has made her customers’ taste buds travel through her creations in her Mosaic restaurant based in Pretoria. A restaurant that will close but the concept will be transposed to Tesnières. A project she hopes to complete within “three years. »
And to find inspiration in a region she knows little about, she has already done a few short scoutings on the sector’s markets. A little trip to La Guerche, in Vitré, in Les Lices in Rennes. Visits that gave him ideas: “These are very beautiful markets. It is important for me to work with local producers, as with the plants that I will produce in the castle garden. »
Because to be able to do its flowery kitchen, Chantel will pick her own flowers. “I don’t have a favorite food. I like to innovate, you have to create a story with what you cook. A gastronomic cuisine that will appeal to both “locals and tourists passing through”.
Seven hotel rooms and a family project
Because in addition to the gourmet restaurant part, there will be a hotel part. Seven rooms will be offered to customers. “We cannot offer more, because we are constrained by the standards in place in these old buildings”, explains Chantel, always accompanied by her mother, Mari.
Here again, Chantel’s project will lead to travel with “exotic, Persian, Chinese inspirations, we will no longer have the impression of being in Torcé”, she smiles.
But before getting there, it will still take a little work for the South African and her family, because it is above all a family project what the chef wants: “It’s very important that everyone is around me, in France. This is a project that I created with my family. »
Moreover, Chantel’s family will also be involved in castle management “Each will have their own mission and role to play. But since it’s a family project, I absolutely wanted them to be by my side,” insists Chantel.
Even if all of his furniture has not yet arrived in Torcé, the works have already started in the garden where she wants to add a touch of Brittany. On the huge plan on the table, she presents: “We will put a large triskelion of shrubs in this place. Over there, we will put small menhirs. And all around, we will plant 1000 camellias! “, she imagines.
And behind the castle, Chantel hopes to install one of his passions : art. “We would like to install a museum at the back of the castle, in a second phase. We already had a museum in South Africa with many works to show them to the public through visits. We would like to bring them to France, but the procedures are long. »
Kitchen, hotel rooms, a museum and a flower-filled park, the castle of Tesnières is about to experience a new chapter in its history.
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