"Le Vichyssois, c'est moi," explains Cretier, a chef too amiable and modest to mean what Louis XIV meant when he said much the same thing about France. "I am a native of the city of Vichy, and Le Vichyssois means 'the man from Vichy.' "
Vichyssoise the soup, ironically, is not from Vichy--at least not directly. It was created by the legendary Louis Diat during his long career as chef at the old Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City. Diat, the story goes, was searching for a cold soup to add to his summer menu and recalled the potato- and-leek soup his mother made while he was a boy living near Vichy. He made the old-fashioned soup, added milk and cream, cooked it some more, added more cream and chilled it. Thus was creme Vichyssoise glacee born.
Chef Cretier, who directed the kitchen at the original Maxim's de Paris here before his own restaurant was launched in 1976, said everyone in Vichy knew of Chef Diat. But Cretier did not taste vichyssoise until he moved away and became a cook at the famous Restaurant Troisgros.