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December 2023

Thomas Métin

Poet Affineur

“Nothing moves me more than discovering a mountain tomme from a particular year. Finds like this just blow me away!”

By Marjorie Modi - Photo Jean-Michel Sordello
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Some of the world's finest restaurants have called on his talents, including the Réserve de Beaulieu, Belles Rives, Château Eza, and Maison de Bacon. Aged 44, this 1.94m tall man, a former professional basketball player, is one of the few Cheese Affineurs in the region. Whether in his cheese shop in Vence or Vieux-Nice, he puts his soul into the best local products. Rigotte de Condrieu, Chabichou du Poitou, Brie de Meaux, Niolo de Corse, Tomme de Chèvre de Cipières... He carefully selects each piece to bring out the best in them in his adjoining maturing cellar. “Salting, cleaning, drying, brushing, regularly turning them over, temperature and humidity control... I work with each cheese until it reaches maturity, to deliver it at its best”. His passion for this art came about by chance some 20 years ago. “After my career as a professional basketball player ended due to injury, I left the Côte d'Azur to live in New Zealand.” And funny as it may seem, it was in Auckland that the little Frenchie learned all about cheese. “Being abroad made me feel part of France, a bit like a Proust madeleine.” Returning to Europe in 2009, Thomas Métin's skills led him to Harrods in London, where he worked as head cheesemonger for two years before moving to the French capital: “Working alongside the best artisan cheesemongers in Paris is where I learned the art of maturing and fermentation techniques...” Now that he knows everything there is to know about the subject, he continues to expand his knowledge by travelling extensively to unearth our terroirs’ finest nuggets. “Nothing moves me more than discovering a mountain tomme from a particular year. Finds like this just blow me away! What do I like most of all? Taking my customers on a journey of discovery.” And when asked about his favourite cheese, he replies: “I'd say a Basque ewe's tomme in the morning, a 36-month Comté at lunchtime, a farmhouse Saint-Nectaire and a banon from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the evening, or an Epoisses with a good Burgundy. It's a bit like music! It depends on the moment, the context, the atmosphere...”

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