Surprise: the rising star of the kitchen is closing his always full restaurant in Caen

Clément Charlot’s Fragments restaurant opened in 2017 and was almost full until it closed in February 2023. ©Christophe Jacquet

Clement Charlotte just dropped a little bomb in the broth of gastronomy Caen (Calvados). The chef, always a little punk, still surprises by announcing the closure, at the end of February 2023, of Fragments, its restaurant located between the castle and the university. After 5 years of success.

At 37 years old, this follower of a radical approach – cooking with more than 90% organic and local products – monopolizes signs of recognition : spotted by François-Régis Gaudry at France Inter from the opening in October 2017, young talent Gault & Millau since 2019, entered into Michelin guide the following year, the score 5/5 in the last Petit Futé sur Caen etc.

Before “wear”

Why stop in the middle of the climb? On his social networks, the lanky chef recognizes that his decision “could seem strange”. It is “completely thought out”. Right after the announcement, he confides:

I feel that wear and tear may occur. It’s not that I’ve been walking around, but I’m starting to get used to it. I have to ask myself.

The owner of the company, Clément Charlot, has already signed the promise of sale. In two months, the last customers will sit on Fragments. After, he gives himself “a short year” to think, the one who “didn’t have time”: “I know myself, it will be turbulent. I want to set up projects around gastronomy. ” Which ? “Nothing concrete”, for now. “I have several ideas. It will depend on the location. “This one, in Caen or the agglo, will have to “come out of the ordinary, with a real cachet”.

For Clément Charlot, it all did not start in the premises on rue Léon Lecornu, with the ovens open to 20 seats, no more. But this is where his kitchen took shape. “It has become more refined, it is more precise. At first she was more “confusing”:

I have tested many times and the customers have also tried. That’s why my kitchen is open, I can talk to them, ask them. This is what allowed me to get this far with each product.

Often it is a tour de force. Not content with changing the menu every week, Clément Charlot doesn’t work only with seasonal products. “Right now we only have apples, it is difficult to make desserts without fruit. Between February and April we have nothing for vegetables, apart from carrots, leeks, onions. We need to find solutions so that people pay between €24 and €39 for the lunch menu and €56 for the evening menu.

With meat and fish treated “as a side dish”.

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Militant approach

Such limitations feed him creativity. He had the epiphany at the daily market in La Rochelle. At the stall of an organic gardener, the former student at the hotel school in Douvres-la-Délivrande, where he had appreciated “the atmosphere, also a bit military”, “understood how to grow vegetables and how to work with them. .

This is where his “firm and militant commitment” took shape to make one sustainable cuisine. He translated it into the manifesto published on the website of his suspended restaurant.

Among other initiatives, since opening, Clément has worked with the same 35 producers within a radius of 100 km, including Citrus Cavey near Lessay (Manche), grains from Cœur des champs in Vaucelles, squash and cabbage from Champs des Cigognes in Mézidon… Not forgetting the natural wines of Mets Chai, the cellar of his Caen accomplice Jean-Charles Halley, also owner of a well-known restaurant.

While it shows “full since August and until the end of the year”, Clément Charlot always has a small space for its producers at each service. It is with them that he will finish the story of Fragments during special evenings. And with them, let him consider what’s next.

Practice. Restaurant Fragments at 4, rue Léon Lecornu, in Caen. Open at noon from Thursday to Saturday, in the evening from Wednesday to Saturday. Reservation more than recommended: 07 71 69 29 76 and on the restaurant’s website. On Facebook and Instagram.

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