Patrick Charvet, the previous Chef of the Hyatt Paris Madeleine, Patrick Charvet, shares his definition of the French art of welcoming
I have been lucky to meet some passionate people, and I am going to share with you a very lovely meeting. I present to you Patrick Charvet, he was the head chef of the Hyatt Paris Madeleine Hotel when I met him. Our conversation covered many subjects, from his numerous travel experiences to clients and much more. Here are a few extracts from our conversation, but of course the best recipe for getting to know him is to go discover his cuisine for yourself in his restaurant at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine Hotel. His cuisine is at once bold in its imagination and comforting in its revisiting of the great classics of our childhood. He is known for unearthing the finest products and going directly to meet his suppliers—which is an impressive mark of quality!
After having trained in some of the finest Michelin-star establishments such as the Grand Véfour and the Trianon Palace, he rounded out his training in Hong Kong under Pierre Gagnaire, in Tokyo with Michel Trois Gros and eventually in New York with Daniel Boulud.
He has accomplished a World Tour of flavors, which provide him with an incredible source of inspiration and expertise in his daily approach to cuisine.
What is your view of the French art of welcoming?
For me, the French art of welcoming corresponds to the elegance and discretion that we bring to our guest’s dining experience, whether this be in a bistro or in a luxury hotel. The French art of welcoming is about making sure that our client is pleasantly surprised. In gastronomy, it is possible for instance to imagine a menu in 5 or 6 courses. But of course, this is not always appreciated by all of our guests; some are left wanting more, some want less. So it’s important to adapt to their desires and personalize their experience. There is nothing pre-packaged about it.
I think that the great maîtres d’hôtel of the last century have transmitted this relational expertise, which is something that can’t necessarily be written down. For me, that’s what the French art of welcoming is all about: the passing on of an expertise. I’ve worked with some great maîtres d’hôtel at the Trianon Palace back when I was there to inherit their expertise. There is always a menu and a scene, but each client determines his theatrics. It’s the personality and experience of each guest who transforms this art of welcoming.
As someone who has traveled extensively to seek out new flavors around the word…is it only in France that it’s like that?
When I first left for my trip, I wanted to see what was going on in other places that hosted different cultures. People in other countries are so often in search of this experience of the French art of welcoming. What they usually have in mind is a Louis XIV-inspired ambiance. And sometimes they transpose this spirit in very interesting ways. Hotels in Asia, for instance, have already surpassed us in terms of service, boasting very attentive service teams. In the U.S., the cuisine is more about being efficient and productive, and in some ways it’s more concerned about being profitable than being emotional, which makes sense given their tipping system. This means their service is also quite attentive.
It was fascinating to do this tour of the world to learn about these various differences. From there, the art of welcoming is interpreted differently by each individual, even if there is a common repertoire across all cultures: we start by saying ‘hello,’ then we welcome the client, we take his coat, and so on… But the memorable part of the experience comes from the human relation that eventually establishes itself between the client and the service staff. The truly exceptional maîtres d’hôtel can be identified by their talent in creating a unique experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.