We recently returned from a photo shoot at L’Auberge Provencale (our 6th or 7th time?) and afterwards, Mark was compelled to write a “love letter” to owners Celeste and Alain, who spearhead the constant evolution of this fabulous inn.  Here is that letter, along with some pictures from the shoot, featuring the stunning cuisine of Chef Joseph Watters. But gorgeous food still has to taste great…and it does. After the shoot, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a spectacular meal, which we will never forget. 

Dear Celeste and Alain,

Since our recent shoot there, I’ve been thinking about you two—mainly reflecting on what makes shooting there so deeply rewarding—and successful. The fact is that we get great shots there because the key to the best shots is invested collaboration. Starting with your preparation for the shoot, Celeste, your involvement brings ideas that are always innovative, focused and seemingly infinite. Watching you and your amazing new chef, Joseph, respecting each other’s talents and perspectives, while moving towards a shared vision, was truly inspirational. It’s so obvious that you really care; it’s just in your DNA.

Even more impressive, that level of care is reflected in every aspect of L’Auberge Provencale. Even after 30 years there, you continue to realize your vision–always evolving, adding, renewing and improving. Recently you embarked on a mission to completely rebrand the restaurant—new name, new website, new everything! Your newest project—completely redesigning the restaurant space, adding a new bar, expanding outdoor dining and building a spectacular new top-of-the-line kitchen—is no little plan. You simply don’t know the term.

The phenomenon that is Alain and Celeste is only fully appreciated when witnessing it like we do: first-hand and behind the scenes. I know that after a few years in the business, there is a tendency towards complacency—it’s understandable. What is more difficult to understand is how one could continue to be so inspired, so eager to embrace change and so energetic in implementing big changes.

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Prep table for shoot at L’Auberge food shoot

I remember the first time we were there working. I was blown away by the consistent and DETAILED execution of your Provencale theme throughout the inn—the fabrics, the ochre walls, the tile, the artwork, the gardens, the staff—and my personal favorite: the fact that you all answer the phone in FRENCH! I love it.

I’ve come to realize that the quality of what you deliver is actually derived from the incredible respect you have for your guests. The basic assumption is that your guests will appreciate the 6 varieties of house-baked bread at dinner, that the tile in their bathroom is authentic hand-painted tile from Provence, and that the fabrics and colors surrounding them are all truly Provencale. You assume that they will be somehow moved by the care that goes into every plate, every room, and every space. And I think they are.

The sad fact is that this level of commitment is rare. And nowadays, with hotels co-opting every creative idea they can from the inn world, and lodging properties becoming more and more alike, you are doing what makes this industry relevant—you are offering something they cannot. You have a unique vision, and the creativity, the taste and the spark to bring it to life. And you do all of these things with great humor and grace.

So I guess this is a love letter…or at the very least a fan letter. Call it what you will, I am a fan and I am in love…with L’Auberge Provencale and with your dedication, diligence, and creative vision, all of which are necessary to create an inn as remarkable as yours. Keep up the great work. Keep growing, both as a business and as people. As your vision continually evolves into  perfection, we are all more enriched for it.



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Your dinner begins with this amuse bouche…you immediately know this will be an extraordinary dinner


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The Creamsicle dessert…both beautiful and delicious, inside and out


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Gargouillou, a composed array of different fresh vegetables, prepared various ways with colorful sauce pairings


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Some of the great product Chef Waters uses: Hen of the Woods mushroom


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The exotic Hen of the Woods mushroom (seen above) is transformed into what L’Auberge is calling “Chicken of the Woods”. The texture and taste bear an uncanny resemblance to chicken–perhaps the best chicken you’ve ever eaten!


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L’Auberge calls this table-side-prepared soup, “Breaking Tradition”. It features parmesan, vegetables, burnt onion, royal trumpets and bok choy. The broth percolating with fresh herbs creates a wonderful aroma that fills the dining room


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After the broth is infused with the herbs table-side, it is poured over the vegetables


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The server presenting the 6 varieties of house-made bread La Table Provencale, the restaurant at L’Auberge Provencale

Check out the current menu at L’Auberge Provencale’s restaurant, La Table Provencale



  1. Jack says:

    Has to be added to our “Must Visit” list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Celeste says:

    Dear Mark,
    Now you bring tears to my eyes, my friend. It is with such support from people like you, Mark and Matthew, that I am continually inspired in my life. As always, you talent and creativity shone through in the fabulous, and I daresay, the best food shots in the industry!! We could not do it without you.
    Thank you for your encouragement and dedication to helping our inn all of these years. Your fresh prospective and genuine caring truly touch my heart.
    And if any of the readers don’t know by now, (but should just by looking at these photos)Jumping Rocks is an inn treasure. Hire them if you can:).

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Amazing photography and food art. A lovely “love letter”. You make me want to experience it myself!

  4. Donna says:

    This is totally awesome! On my bucket list of places to visit…Thanks guys for the beautiful photography and for sharing this. Amazing!