His Take on the French Art of welcoming

How do you envision the French art of welcoming? In what ways have you revisited it? What are the keys to success today in guaranteeing that the client enjoys an exclusive experience?

The French art of welcoming has been shaped by a very long tradition. This is an advantage, but, over time, it has also become a problem. The codes by which the art of the table operates have begun to be perceived as very formal and restrictive. Newer clients found them excessive and intimidating. We ended up losing sight of what actually constitutes the essence of the art of welcoming: being sincerely attentive to guests and allowing them to penetrate the bubble of perfection and generosity.

When we re-opened my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée, I figured that I would have to restore this authenticity of attention and reinvent the rituals of welcoming. This is the meaning behind the drink that’s offered to clients as soon as they take their place: beetroot water infused with hibiscus. This drink is accompanied by a tuile of grains and several fine slices of rice-bread, along with some lightly salted butter. The message is clear: we are truly going to take care of you. This is in some ways a return to the core value: at its heart, the art of welcoming consists of exhibiting the pleasure that we take in receiving guests.

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