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The Best Hamburger & Ketchup Ever at The Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo!


I think I’m tired of seeing cookie posts out there. No offense to you bakers that have been slaving over ratios, non-stick baking sheets and the perfect soft batch.

Yes, it’s most definitely that time of year to make all sort of goodies and even gift them in pretty saran wrap. In fact, I was debating on making my brothers’ ex-girlfriend’s recipe. She used to give it to all the mothers in the family while they were dating. And, I of course, snuck it away from all of them! K was so sweet, she’d just show up with more batches through New Year’s.

So, I get it. It’s baking time!

But, since I’m not baking a damn thing (well other than some flan orders, and I really don’t consider that baking since I pressurize them), I figured I’d entice you with this most incredible ketchup recipe I’ve ever had.

Earlier this year, my parents, sis and I went on our bi-annual trip to Monaco. I talked some about it here and here. But, those were teasers and didn’t do the trip any justice. And, truthfully speaking, this post won’t either. This is yet another teaser because sharing this recipe alone, won’t add any additional grandeur.

I had the awesome opportunity to visit 4 exquisite and Michelin-rated restaurants, meet the chefs and even do some demo’s with them  in their kitchens! This trip is what inspired and brought on the Joel Robuchon meeting this past September, which you can read about here.

Among the four restaurants I ate at in Monaco, L‘Argentin Grill, nestled in a cozy corner inside The Fairmont Hotel, was one of my favorites.

A 4-star hotel lobby restaurant, it boasts offering some of the best grilled meats you’ll indulge in.

First of all, my point of contact there was sweetest and enjoyable person to work with before I even landed in the Principality. She ensured me my visit at the restaurant and the more importantly, the chef, would be memorable. And, she did just that.

Shall we talk about the chef? Maryon Gandon is in one word, DYNAMIC! He’s witty, funny, inviting, personable, spunky and doesn’t speak a lick of English! Because I was taping the entire stage, and I went in with my mostly forgotten French, my POC and dad were my translators. Notwithstanding, global hand gestures worked very well, let me tell you!

I swooned as soon as I entered the empty dining room. Tables hug an all glass window wall, giving the diner an unobscured view of the historic Medittereanian Sea. Fittingly, the dinning room decór was blue in tone, without swimming in it. No pun intended.



And then the encounter with the chef. “Bren, finalement, c’est un plaisir de vous connaitre!” Me: “Moi, aussi!” I had NO idea what I was getting ready to get myself into and neither did he, evidently. But the greeting was very affectionate and exciting.

All of a sudden, I’m whisked into the quiet, but massive kitchen, with 4 or so sous and line chefs lingering, but steadily looking in curiosity.

As you can see from the picture below, I was immediately given a chef’s coat, belonging to chef Isabel. I kinda wanted to take it, but it was way too big. Clearly, she’s eating well! I put my coat on, camera starts rolling, and ALL THIS FOOD and mise en place trays start coming out!!

(Wait, doesn’t the coat look GOOOOOOD!?! Especially with the matching black and gold bamboo earrings!? Such a coincidence.)


My God, I didn’t even know what to say! Since I didn’t have any expectation other than not to eat pork or shellfish, everything that was being prepared in HE-MAN fashion, was overwhelming. Chef Gandon’s crew were machines on steroids, swiftly heating skillets, passing ingredients over each other and whisking sauces that had aroma’s I’d never whiffed!

I had to ask the videographer to stop rolling for a quick moment to “adjust my coat and pull my hair back in a bun” (really a guise for gathering my thoughts–things were moving really, really fast!).

Everything was gorgeous. The colors, the textures; even the heat of the burners and warmers were infectious! Something about helping this good-looking chef, made it all so unintimidating. Otherwise, I would have been bustin’ my ankles. Yes, I was wearing 4″ heels while making a white fish sauce for the 2nd course.

The chef prepared us 5 courses, including two desserts which left me speechless. Of the 5 courses (2 pictured above), I’ll just quickly touch on one:



Now, you know burgers are not a French thing. Pommes frittes, maybe, but not burgers. And THIS burger is not even like any American burger I’ve seen. I was warned I was in for a surprise, and Lord have mercy, was it huge! We all stood there in utter amazement as the only thing we could see was bread!  A huge tower of bread. I was hoping the actual meat part of it wasn’t as tall as the tower appeared. And thank God, when the chef uncovered the burger, it was almost normal size.


How unique. The top half of the burger is used as “basket” for the most perfectly crisp potato wedge. Okay, so the burger was good. The KOBE  beef was juicy and cooked to a delicious point. The tomato was succulent and very chunky, as you can see in the picture. But, the ketchup mi amigos, was ALL THAT! I was so impatient, I tasted it even before the servers brought them to the table. Since he advised it was homemade and like none other I’d ever had, I dipped in.


I’ll say no more. Really. It was that damn good.

Upon returning to the States, I emailed my now new friends and kindly asked for the recipe so that I can share with you guys! They were kind enough to get right back to me.

Here is an authentic French, homemade ketchup, written by the Chef himself, in the metric system. So go rack your brain and do the conversions while you’re baking more cookies! It’s more than worth it.

And, here’s mami debating on how to best attack that beast of a burger, with no shame! Get it mami!!


As for more ocean view pictures of the resto, the interview with Chef Gandon and the rest of the courses we prepared and ate, including sexalicious desserts, I’m still working on those posts and I’ll even include the video of the entire visit. There are 3 other restaurants to cover, so you’re definitely in for a series of super delicious visual, audible and more importantly, edible treat (yes, they’ve shared more recipes!)

Thanks to the entire PR staff at The Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo and the kitchen crew at L’Argentin Grill for fabulous hospitality, food, wine, and generosity!! Most of all, Chef Gandon. I just can’t wait to go back!

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!




  • 1 kg of tomatoes indeed wall up
  • 2 soupspoons of vinegar
  • 2 soupspoons of cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 soupspoon of olive oil
  • ½ l. of pineapple juice
  • Nutmeg (note: I suppose to taste?)
  • salt and pepper (note: I suppose to taste.)


  • Cut tomatoes in fragments
  • Make warm the olive oil in a pan on average fire
  • Add tomatoes and let melt tomatoes 5 minutes.
  • Add the sugar, the vinegar, the cumin and the juice of pineapple
  • Grate a little nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper at your convenience
  • Let cook 1hour on slow fire by moving from time to time. This tomato sauce has to thicken.
  • Remove the sauce of the fire

23 thoughts on “The Best Hamburger & Ketchup Ever at The Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo!

  1. You know I love you b/c I am not going to take exception to part about the cookie baking. I’m also not going to ask Mama B not to give you any that are coming your way. The reason I will be so generous is that is a gorgeous burger. And I am thinking of how I can shortcut the ketchup b/c I’m just not into all the slicing and dicing. San Marzano’s here I come! Love ya, Bren! See you soon!

  2. We hope your Christmas is filled with joy, laughter and many kitchen successes in the New Year.Keep up the exciting posts spo we can all dream of meeting handsome chefs, eating exciting foods and travelling the world.

  3. AJ: I’m just waiting for my cookies, since I’m not making any. I’m over here making flans with mami. That burger was not only gorgeous, but massive and so artfully made! It’s been one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had, for real.
    Hugs back! See you soon!

    Val: I hope yours is, too, dear! We’re in the kitchen now, cooking it up, Cuban style. I hope your home is filled with lots of goodies, smiles, love, and happiness. I’ll continue to offer you guys stories, recounts and recipes from the places I visit. I’m blessed, after all. XO!

  4. I won’t even cry because you bad-mouthed the holiday cookies – you haven’t even stopped by to see mine! Hmph! But I love ketchup – aside from chipotle Tabasco, my favorite ingredient/condiment – so I forgive you. 🙂 One question: what is that quantity of the pineapple juice? Half of what?

    Second question (which I’ll probably just tweet you): How many egg yolks does mami put in her Crema de Vie?

  5. Definitely going to try the Ketchup recipe, I used to make herbed Ketchups back in the day. The burger looks awsome and the presentation is the bomb. Was glad to see a picture of su Mami, I see where you get your good looks. Digala Ola y mucho carino.

  6. Les cuillères à soupe…the European measurements and recipes are so fun to read and translate. Those burgers are humongo! No wonder mama had to take a breath before diving in. 🙂

  7. Great post, Merry Christmas Bren!
    Love the jacket and the earrings, you look gorgeous, but the shoes? Oy.
    I would love to visit there one day. Soon.

  8. RJ Flamingo: thanks for forgiving. I swear if I saw one more cookie I was going to keel over, though I LOOOOVE them. I just wanted to step out the box, you know 🙂 Plus I just don’t have the patience you bakers do; so kudos to you. I think it’s 1/2 a liter of pineapple juice, but that sounds like a lot, right. I can find out for sure.

    Sue: yes, I take after mami! haha. let me know when you try the ketchup recipe! I can’t wait to make it myself. Will tell mami you extend compliments.

    So Spiffy: Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too! 🙂

    Cynthia: Ditto, my island sistah!

    DuoDishes: yes they are. I forgot you speak French. Girl, humongo isn’t even the word! I was like wth is this when he brought them out! But sooo good!

    LoriLynn: Thanks! Jacket and earrings are nice, right! 🙂 Shoes, killer Marc Jacobs! They were too cute and I managed the whole time–no slips or trips! When you go, let me know! It’s a lovely place.

  9. Te felicito tienes muy buenas recetas y practicas para el dia a dia. Buena suerta en todo lo que hagas. Se ve que te gusta y lo haces con mucha pasion.

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