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France's Most Prominent Young Chef Is Now at the Helm of Dining at Marlon Brando's Resort in French Polynesia

Plaza Athénée chef Jean Imbert relaunched the famous resort's culinary offerings, paying homage to Brando and the infamous story of the Bounty mutineers.

<p>Courtesy of The Brando</p>

Courtesy of The Brando

The Brando, the famously picturesque luxury beach resort on a remote private atoll in French Polynesia, is thousands of miles away from busy Paris. But its guests are now treated to a gourmet experience by one of the French capital's most prominent culinary stars: chef Jean Imbert.

Imbert inherited Paris' most iconic hotel kitchen at the Plaza Athénée from Alain Ducasse in 2022. And his culinary chef d'oeuvres there gained him a Michelin star just three months after the opening of his signature restaurant. At The Brando, Imbert takes guests on a world epicurean journey through the reimagined food and beverage program of the resort's three signature dining concepts, including its fine dining eatery, Les Mutinés.

"What motivated me was the authenticity of this atoll, the story surrounding Marlon Brando, but also connecting with the incredible people behind the project, like Dick Richard Bailey [the chairman and CEO of Pacific Beachcomber, the owner of the resort], of course. I wanted to tell a story there, one that would be a blend of Polynesian culture and cinema," Imbert told Travel + Leisure.

<p>Boby Allin</p>

Boby Allin

He partnered with award-winning luxury designer Rémi Tessier, whose hospitality projects span yachts, private jets, and restaurants, including Imbert's at Plaza Athénée. The collective goal was to immerse guests in the story of the infamous 1759 mutiny of the crew of the HMS Bounty, which inspired Marlon Brando's 1960s hit "Mutiny on the Bounty." (Filming this movie brought the Hollywood legend to French Polynesia and Tetiaroa, the resort's atoll.)

The original movie poster, which Imbert picked, welcomes guests in the vaulted ceiling space reminiscent of an upside-down boat hull. A stunning crystal chandelier, handmade in France, anchors the dimly-lit dining room, where patrons are served mouthwatering fare that, according to the chef, retraces the ship's journey around the world. On the menu: ceviche with herbs sourced from the atoll's garden, fresh fruit carpaccio, and honey souffle.

"Polynesian cuisine is fascinating; it is inherently linked to the local products they had historically, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, vanilla, and honey. At The Brando, we have our own garden that is still evolving and provides us with many great products. It is interesting to try to use Polynesian culture to create dishes that are contemporary while still preserving their original DNA," Imbert added. "We also strived to remain as local as possible when it comes to the raw materials used."

Imbert also improved the menus of the resort's iconic Bob's Bar (named after Marlon Brando's assistant, who accompanied the actor in Tetiaroa) and the casually elegant Beachcomber Café.

<p>Courtesy of The Brando; Odieux Boby</p>

Courtesy of The Brando; Odieux Boby

Imbert designed Bob's Bar's menu to look like a leather-bound travel diary with many stories and photographs of Brando.

One of the standout desserts is The Real Bounty, a decadent blend of coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell and mixed with melted chocolate. Brando himself used to open a coconut in half and pour melted chocolate in it, mixing it with the coconut flesh — a treat he called "the real bounty."

The drink list includes cocktails with names such as Don't Feed the Director (a spiced rum cocktail); Polynesian Old Fashioned (prepared with ginger-infused rum and honey); and Dirty Old Bob, Brando's favorite cocktail of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 whiskey mixed with local honey, pineapple and lemon juice, mint, egg white, and bitters.

"When Brando first arrived in Tetiaroa with his assistant/barman Bob, he set up in this hut [Bob's Bar], and, in the evenings, he would recreate the world while ordering cocktails. For the menu, we recreated a travel diary that tells his whole story with letters, drawings, photos with Tarita [Tarita Teriʻipaia was a Polynesian actress who married Brando] on the beach, travel stamps, the history of the mutineers of the Bounty, just as if Brando had left it behind in the '60s. He is truly present everywhere, some of his children still living on the atoll. It's a tribute to his life," Imbert explained.

And in the beachside eatery, shaded by swaying palms and overlooking a heavenly white swath of sand and the aqua blue waters of the atoll, travelers can dine on traditional dishes such as Tahitian-style raw poisson cru and lagoon fish ceviche with coconut cilantro.

The Brando, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, is one of the world's most exclusive resorts that stands out for its top-notch amenities: it has 35 private oceanfront villas with plunge pools and a sprawling residence. But equally notable is its sustainability initiatives in collaboration with the Tetiaroa Society, the non-profit organization tasked with protecting the biodiversity on and around the atoll.

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