Denis Courtiade, president of O’service

Interview with Denis Courtiade, Director of Restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée

I recently encountered a preeminent figure of the Parisian hotel industry: Denis Courtiade, the Director of Restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée. I had the pleasure of meeting both him and his team in action. I invite you to learn more about him below. As an ambassador of the French art of welcoming, he is certainly not someone to be missed!

What is your view on the French art of welcoming? How do you see this notion evolving?

I think it’s important for us to preserve this French Art of Service, even if it remains a challenge today for us to define it. On one hand, we have our traditions and expertise in the way of hospitality; on the other, France is the most frequently visited country by tourists…so we all have to work together to elevate our professions in service in order to make sure that all the agents involved thoroughly understand the importance of welcoming and serving our clients well.

We are all Ambassadors of France! The French notions of hospitality and service are in some ways a heritage—despite the fact that, in my opinion, there was a generational rift in the transmission of the merits of the profession, such that the profession did not know how to call itself into question. As founding members of the association “O Service—the Talents of Tomorrow,” we work every day with students and teachers in schools in order to make people realize that holding a career in service is a noble act.

Laurent Delporte - Plaza Athenee restaurant
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Table arrangement at the Restaurant in the Plaza Athénée

In what way is service its own art, rather than an obligation?

A man of service must be sincerely conscious of it! Because we receive what we offer and reflect, rather than the opposite. Sporting a good attitude, a positive approach, feeling a sense of pride in fulfilling a position that is socially important …all these parameters, not to mention others, elevate the man of service whether he is serving simply coffee or a fine slice of truffled chicken en vessie. And let’s not forget that we have to maintain a double personality—which is something we learn in hospitality schools—so that when we don our uniforms, we fully become a person of service. It’s a question of mindset!

How was the idea for “O Service” born? What is its role?  

The association was formed two years ago with the goal of uniting people from the various spheres of the profession. We started out in Career Conferences led by Régis Marcon, and the people who were present were solid people, so we realized it was time to come together and form one voice; eventually we went on to form one of the benchmarks for ‘service.’ Our approach involves addressing the youth: convincing them, encouraging them, guiding them, and accompanying them…

Can you describe to us your plan of action for the next EQUIPHOTEL?

We recognized the need to develop ‘fields of action’ outside of our companies where the media are present. EQUIPHOTEL and Corinne Menegaux have placed their trust in us. For the second time in a row, there will be several of us professionals from Grandes Maisons who will be there to guide, discuss, and share our experiences with students from the Hotel School of Técomah under the guidance of Professor Olivier Penent. The Service Trade must remain represented in all the big organizations, fairs, and events…we demand it, and we carry it through as volunteers!

collaborateurs du plaza
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The team behind Plaza Athénée

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