THE BOCUSE D'OR FOR YOU, IN A FEW WORDS?
The contest is massively important to me. I have known it since 1987 and have attended the event each time I would visit the Sirha trade exhibition. It is also a wonderful encounter with Olivier Ginon. In 2015, I was asked to sit on the international jury in Lyon, and today, the event is held in the Champagne region. I am delighted to be surrounded by people I love for this occasion.
REIMS, A CITY CLOSE TO YOUR HEART. WHAT WILL IT CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOUL OF THE CONTEST?
Well, Reims will obviously bring much to the contest, but it must also leave room for the Bocuse d’Or. We are here to promote the event. However, it is the structure-city, and was chosen to organise the contest, with Reims Events who will carry the Bocuse d’or, the hotels that will welcome the members of the jury and the participants, and the Champagne Houses for the galas. The region is a festive destination and Champagne will flow!
YOU ARE NO LONGER THE PRESIDENT OF HONOUR BUT THE PATRON OF THIS EDITION. HOW DO YOU SEE THIS ROLE, YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
I really value all the members of the jury, so I don’t feel any real pressure. We must find the right candidate, one who will go all the way, but it is essential that we maintain a good disposition. We expect the candidates to be ultra-passionate, we hope to see emotions, as skills with no emotions is simply not possible, and we’d like to see that reflected in each recipe. Even if it is the most beautiful dish in the world, we want to feel something. We want to feel that the candidates put all their soul into their creations.
CUISINE EXPERIENCING A SHIFT IN SEVERAL AREAS, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC: ENVIRONMENT, GENDER EQUALITY, COMMITMENTS. WHERE DO YOU STAND IN THIS RESPECT?
These are indeed issues that are under the spotlight today. But we have always adopted such an approach for twenty-five years now. We have always been careful about what we buy, always local, avoiding waste, using everything. Hyper-seasonal? This is also something we have been practicing from the start, but at the time we didn’t talk about it. The generation of chefs to whom I belong, we already did all these things, ecological cuisine, but the term wasn’t used, it hadn’t been invented probably. There were no social media, and the journalists were not interested in those aspects, and yet, it was simply common sense to us. We have always had this in us, but we didn’t sprinkle all our actions with the word ecological. Today, these aspects must be addressed because they need to endure, and the future generations should also be concerned.
THE GUARD WAS SOMEWHAT LOWERED AT TIMES... A WAKE-UP CALL WAS NECESSARY?
The has been some complacency, thirty of forty years ago, our country had many responsible and compliant restaurants, then the number of establishments soared four or five-fold. They were not necessarily all managed by passionate professionals, as most chefs usually are. Today, restaurant owners can question and address these issues. They can realise that they can do more by asking their chefs to be more seasonal, more responsible in their approach. That is what is important today.