Les toques blanches du monde

Michel Portos


Portrait of an esthete of strong character and joyful creativity


A vocation that emerges from the childhood

Michel Portos felt the seeds of his vocation grow when he was very young. Nothing predestined him to become a chef. At 18, he successfully passed his accountant diploma but continues to dream of great kitchens. No longer able to “fight”, his father agrees to enroll him in the CFA of Marseille. 2 years later, best student of his class, he sent job applications to all the great restaurants of France, determined to make a career in a high place of French gastronomy.

He began his career in Bordeaux …

Michel Portos made his debut at the Girondins Club of Bordeaux. Subsequently, he held the post of Chef de partie in two establishments in the Bordeaux region: Rouzic and Chapon Fin. In the early 90s he seconds Dominique Toulousy in the restaurant “Les Jardins de l’Opéra” in Toulouse from whom he learned the rigor of the product, the technique and execution. In 1993 he starts working at Troisgros. With Pierre and Michel, he discovered the important role of the acid in the balance of a dish. This large family opens a window on the outside, regularly sending him abroad. Michel Portos recalls his meeting with Mr. Nishi, Chef at the Hyatt in Tokyo who, in a single glance, judged that there was too much weight on the plate. The Japanese Chef asked him to weigh the content and made him withdraw “overload”. A shock and a revelation. He will never forget this “unusual” encounter that leads towards pure and refined plates! Arriving in Perpignan in June 1998, he opens his first establishment “Côté Théâtre”. A “small” house, which can accommodate not more than 25 seats, extremely refined and decorated with great taste. A difficult experience – the Catalans do not always understand his cuisine – which nevertheless earned him his first Michelin star in 2001.

… And returns to Bordeaux

In Bouliac, Jean-Claude Borgel gives him the means to fully express his talent. A great complicity and a deep respect bond the two men. Jean-Claude Borgel says he chose Michel Portos for his culinary style – he went several times to eat at “Côté Théâtre” in Perpignan – but also because he is a good manager. Upon his arrival, he opts for a fixed brigade of 12 people (most of the restaurants “turn” with a small team off season and recruit for beautiful days). This choice allows him to provide a regular service throughout the year and encourage a creative emulation. In March 2009, The Michelin Guide awards its second macaroon to Michel Portos and his team.


A kitchen opened to the world.

Michel Portos has abandoned sauces, preferring reductions, delicately flavored with spices and herbs juice. His cuisine is inspired sometimes from the Maghreb, sometimes from Asia, at lot by the Mediterranean Basin and henceforth by the Girondin terroir in a perfect dosage of flavors. He interprets the acid register perfectly thanks to judicious use of citrus fruits and vinegars and always seeks to introduce a “crunchy” element for balance. He loves dishes that reflect men and situations, reflecting in its own way.

His favorite products

In all regions where he served his talent, Michel Portos had fallen in love with   specific products. In Lyon, the St Marcellin from la mère Richard. In Roussillon, blue fish: sardines, mackerel, Lisette, tuna. In Marseille, it is of course the bouillabaisse of his mother, this multi-flavor dish that awakened his senses. The product makes him “vibrate”: red mullet. He loves the bitterness of the guts, iodine, the texture of the flesh. “This is a tasty product that is sufficient in itself.”

A taste for art

Michel Portos has a real passion for tableware. He spends much of his free time in porcelain shops and never refuses to receive a representative that may help him discover a new line. When the collection presented pleases him, even if he does not really need, he buys 6 pieces knowing that he will always find a use for them. To the delight of customers served in table plates whose shape and color harmonize perfectly with the chosen dishes. A certain taste for the art to which his father, who took him regularly to visit museums, is certainly no stranger.


19 Rue Fortia

13001 Marseille



84 Quai du Port