A Discussion with Anne-Sophie Pic
As a partner for the Fête de la Gastronomie 2015, I was able to sit down for an interview with Anne-Sophie Pic, the Michelin-star chef and godmother of this event. Below Anne-Sophie Pic lets us in on her thoughts on the keys to success to a restaurant.
What are the keys to success that allow a restaurant to create memorable experiences for its clients?
I don’t have any kind of magic recipe! I would say that it always comes down first and foremost to being sincere in one’s approach, allowing one to guarantee that the experience will be meaningful.
Living out an experience—that’s my promise to clients at my restaurants. A culinary experience, certainly, but not only that because the appreciation of a meal depends eminently on the place and context in which it takes place. There is, of course, the culinary experience, which is a multisensory one that appeals to the five senses, beginning with taste because it’s the most synesthetic, all-encompassing sensation. It’s the sense by which we perceive the flavors from the dish. But, in order for it to work, it has to be accompanied by the four other senses, especially sight and smell, which play an essential role in the anticipation of taste…
This culinary experience takes place in the restaurant setting. This necessarily impacts the reaction and the imprint left in the memory. The dining rooom is organized around a magnificent chandelier in Baccarat crystal, which breaks up three spaces lit up by large glass windows that look out on gardens. This thus creates three ambiances, with the same common thread running through each: softly feminine color palettes of gray and powdered rose, details evoking the history of the establishment, Japan, which I’m very attached to, the presence of plants, and a design that is at once sumptuous and soberly refined. Beyond the decor, I place a great deal of importance on service. Even if the era when the maître d’hôtel carved the meat and fish in front of the client seems old-fashioned, I still believe that there is place for a kind of life in the dining room. For instance, one of my dishes—the Tarbouriech oyster—has a sauce that I prepare right on the stop in a Chemex. I realized that displaying the demonstration with the Chemex in the dining room itself would allow clients to better appreciate this highly radical dish.
In the same way, the culinary experience takes form in the presence of dinner guests, which could mean friends, family, and colleagues. And they are the ones who influence how much the moment is appreciated.
In other words, the sensation of pleasure depends on the social, affective, and cultural context. Hence the importance of the restaurant in creating conditions that are favorable to the expression of an emotion. Because the chef’s task is above all to draw out an emotion, to sustain desire, curiosity, and, most importantly, pleasure!
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.