The moment that Cecile Food Club, a tiny cafe located on the Corniche in Marseille, was opened in the spring of this year, it took just a few minutes to create a huge impression. The name was inscribed onto the glass in a playful sand-colored scrawl. The awning, which was faded in yellow and brown, reminded me of St Tropez in the 1950s and 1960s. There were benches on the outside, a door for ordering coffee, a selection of merchandise such as T-shirts and bags, and an extensive glass counter that showcased the constantly replenished menu of salads, sandwiches, and desserts.
When I went to the cafe, the bread choices varied from jambon-beurre (with ham from Basque Charcuterie Louis Ospital) to pan bagnat (a ham-based sandwich made from Bas Louis Ospital) and pan bagnat (a bag filled with Nicoise) with scrambled eggs and pancetta rolls, vegetable chilli hoagies as well as a pastrami-toasted sandwich, with dried and smoked meat inside the cafe, including coleslaw, cheddar as well as pickles and Savora mustard. This could be the most sought-after item in anyone at a Brooklyn food court. The cafe serves a range of salads, sandwiches and desserts (c) Edouard Jacquinet Wasson at Cecile Food Club (c) Edouard Jacquinet. Among the sweets there was a platter of Praline-rose brioches appeared like volcanoes that were beginning to pour out their pink jammy lava. The cafe was the idea of supermodel Texan Erin Wasson and her Marseille-born husband Barthelemy Tassy.
They are joined by Tassy’s former acquaintances, event coordinator Thibault Hillmeyer, and Chef Paul Langlere. Langlere studied at the renowned Plaza Athenee in Paris and moved to Marseille in 2017. He plans to start his restaurant Sepia, which he runs in addition to the food offerings at the restaurant. France is always an integral part of our past The Barthelemy Tassy More than a café The place has turned into an institution in a city which is increasingly popular with European travelers. On certain days, there are long lines that stretch across the street. Some days, there’s “like a family playground,” Wasson says. Wasson. “There’s children and dogs. Everyone is familiar with one another. It’s a riot of energy.” On days when the staff is overwhelmed, Wasson is known to help out. “I’ll be on coffee duties,” she declares, “and doing a lot of bussing.” How often does she ever get noticed? The 41-year-old is, in fact, “one of the most beautiful women on Earth,” as her husband puts the phrase, and since her emergence into the spotlight in the latter half of the 1990s, she has been featured on numerous magazine covers as well as beauty and fashion campaigns for all major brands.
Whether or not she is recognized, it’s Marseille: “Everyone is low-key here,” she claims. Eggs and baguettes made of house-smoked trout (c) Edouard Jacquinet The café’s gazpacho (c) Edouard Jacquinet Cecile is named after Tassy’s mother who lived in the house where “the refrigerator was never empty. There was always someone to talk with” (c) Edouard Jacquinet Today, sitting on the front steps in white jeans with navy espadrilles, and a top from Lorod, the New York label run by her friend Lauren Rodriguez, she’s fun and sassy. “She can talk to a wall,” Tassy says Tassy of her skill in engaging in conversations, which is a result of her time in the field as model. “I’m a lizard,” she tells me about her reptile’s tolerance to the heat, which is a lot in the present. The cafe was, in actual an inspiration from the sun-worshippers who gather for hours every day on the rocky Malmousque coast just near the corner – an enclave of bathers Wasson affectionately calls “Fraggle Rock”. In Marseille food stalls, they usually close at the end of the day and sometimes even all day. For those “rock hounds” who patrol the streets on their way towards the beaches, Cecile (which stays open from 8am until 8.30pm all week) is a place for a quick fix of caffeine or a snack and drink. Tassy 40-year-old Tassy lived just a few miles away just a few miles from the soccer stadium the south of Marseille in an era that the town had been “a lot messier”. He recalled visiting the area frequently.
“Like every other kid, I came and jumped from the rocks,” he recalls. Cecile is named in honor of his grandmother who was a wonderful hostess: “I could go to her home anytime. Food was never empty. There was always somebody to chat with.” The counter with glass located at Cecile (c) Edouard Jacquinet In reality, Malmousque, a neighbourhood that blends modern, more sophisticated stores with older, rough and ready establishments which remind Wasson of Abbot Kinney, California, at the time she moved to California in the mid-2000s. “There’s an energy when you walk through the little alleys; and the water, it gives me old Venice vibes from when Venice was just a bar, a restaurant and a crackly old coffee shop.” The tale of how they came together is the epitome of a “meet-cute. It was in 2016 at Roosterfish located on Abbot Kinney, a gay bar that also serves in the role of “a community centre” for residents such as Wasson who love to play pool. “I had been in Venice long enough that I knew all the faces,” she says. “And at the bar was a European-looking man, who was clearly not from the area. I’ve seen you walk your dog around the neighborhood He says. I’m thinking, ‘Cool tale bro. He then gives me his phone number. I don’t ever make a call. After three weeks, we bump across each other in an establishment for coffee. I’m sure I recognize the man.
He says, ‘I’m the guy you never called.'” 10 more culinary destinations in the city AM par Alexandre Mazzia 9 Rue Francois Rocca, alexandre-mazzia.com Inventive three-Michelin-starred tasting menus Chez Paul 35 Rue Desire Pelaprat, @auberge_du_corsaire Fresh barbecued fish, fish soup and pizza Jogging Jogging 103 Rue Paradis, joggingjogging.com Sells contemporary fashion with a courtyard lunch spot serving eastern European-, Middle Eastern- and Asian-inspired dishes La Cave de Baille 133 Bd Baille, lacavedebaille.com Wine and small bites, with a chatty owner La Mercerie 9 Cours Saint Louis, lamerceriemarseille.com Fresh food and natural wines Le Petit Nice Passedat 17 Rue des Braves Anse de Maldorme, 156 Cor President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, passedat.fr Three-Michelin-starred seafood restaurant L’Esplayi du Grand Bar des Goudes 28 Rue Desire Pelaprat, grandbardesgoudes.fr Order La Bourride, a Provencal fish stew with ayioli and olive oil Livingston 5 Rue Crudere, livingstonmarseille.com Orange wine bistro Regain 53 Rue Saint-Pierre, regain-marseille.com Modern French cuisine with Asian accents Tuba Club 2 Bd Alexandre Delabre, tuba-club.com Swimming, cocktails, plus five sea-facing rooms Cut to their first date. Tassy invites her to a place called Dudley Market, which, unbeknownst to him, was the gallery Wasson was a part of with artist David Quadrini. It’s a sign of good fortune. Tassy was a young man who began working at restaurants as a teenager, doing dishes and working his way up the ladder, was in charge of front-of-house duties for the Venice Scopa Italian Roots, a restaurant in Venice. Scopa Italian Roots, before becoming the manager of its secret bar, Old Lightning.
“We were on our date,” Tassy remembers, “and all of a sudden, two glasses of champagne come from two customers of mine (from Old Lightning]. Then, a seafood crudo dish is delivered by the chef who has a relationship with the proprietor of the restaurant I worked in. Erin was like, “Who is this person? What are you?” After dinner, they went towards a houseboat owned by a close friend for a have a drink. And the rest is the story. The couple was married in the year 2018 and, after a brief period living in New York, relocated to Marseille in 2021. “France was always going to be part of our history,” Tassy says. Tassy. “I had come to Marseille a couple of times,” Wasson says. Wasson, “and something felt right. I was reminded of Texans who are extremely warm, but don’t mess with them. Marseille is a truly honest city with this stunning contrast of sea and city. If we wanted to construct something, it seemed sensible to do it in Marseille.” They stumbled across an apartment just around just around the corner of the restaurant, and only 20m away from the sea. They also have the boat. The boat is not extravagant (it was part of home). However, they can fish and enjoy drinks and dips on the boat with their friends. For Wasson, another benefit to staying in Marseille is the proximity to Paris that has brought about all sorts of opportunities. “Paris is real fashion,” she claims. “The projects I’ve had the chance to complete since coming here are more akin to the work I did earlier in my career. It’s not all about the money, the impressions or following.”