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December 2023

Eve Vernice

Floral cuisine horticulturist

“Flowers make their way onto your plate, offering a palette of new flavours to explore.”

Par Anne Emellina - Photo Jean-Michel Sordello

The edible flowers that Eve Vernice lovingly cultivates add colour and flavour to our dishes. Although this is a niche sector, she has now carved a place for herself in the gastronomic world, where chefs appreciate their refinement and flavour. This flower-grower, who professes to be as happy as her blooms, never imagined she would be in this profession. The granddaughter of Dijon farmers, she has always loved the land, but didn't envisage going down that path until a string of unexpected incidents occurred. Tired of her job, now just a means to an end, she was looking for a sense of purpose in her professional life, until one day she had a momentous encounter. Cultivating a small vegetable garden on a plot of land lent by a friend in Menton, she spoke with an organic farmer on the neighbouring plot and thought him lucky to be able to live off his crops. “It's a choice,” he told her, and, aged 32, she began training at the horticultural college in Antibes. And when she bit into a wild pea flower that looked like an orchid, she realised that you could eat beauty. Now working on land leased from the town of Menton, she has total respect for the soil. No herbicides or weedkillers – “the garden is a pharmacy in which life must be left to its own devices”. No power tillers – crops are grown in open ground. Her produce has won over prestigious restaurants, from the Chèvre d'Or to the Negresco, not forgetting yacht chefs on the Côte d'Azur. Eve studied specialist François Couplan’s works to find out about the virtues and non-toxicity of wild flowers, but she doesn't shy away from tasting them. She discovered the bituminaria flower, which she is the only one selling. 70% of her flowers are wild, 30% cultivated from organic seeds and picked before sunrise for optimum hydration. But how do these precious harvests taste? With its sweet and tangy flavour, begonia is perfect in salads or with chocolate ice cream, Jerusalem artichoke blossom goes well with meat and fish in an artichoke-flavoured sauce, and the slightly bitter orange marigold blossom is also known as “poor man's saffron”. And bean blossom is deliciously sweet too. A tireless proponenet of the subject, Eve gives talks, offers online training courses, and tells you all about it in her forthcoming book Les Fleurs d'Eve (Eve’s Flowers).


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