Pierre Gagnaire : The French Art of Welcoming Lies in its Sincerity
Pierre Gagnaire ranks among the greatest of French chefs. He owns close to 10 restaurants around the world, including Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire, located on rue Balzac in Paris. I had the pleasure of meeting him upon the occasion of the announcement of his partnership with the Barrière Group. He has just finished signing the official menu for the restaurant Fouquet’s Cannes, and other restaurants belonging to the group will also begin working with Pierre Gagnaire’s team in an effort to transmit the French art of living and, furthermore, spread their expertise.
What, for you, is the French art of welcoming?
It is about sincerity, the sincerity of the relationship that we have with our clients. I travel an enormous deal, and I have yet to get used to the idea of meeting someone I have never met asking me, “How are you today?” I’m sorry, but we don’t know each other… In fact, this is a formula that is repeated endlessly in Anglo-Saxon countries. The French art of welcoming does not correspond to this mindset. We do not find ourselves in this “familiar” relationship with our clients within two minutes. We require time to get acquainted.
In a restaurant, even if the relationship is short, we cannot treat our work in a mechanical fashion. Today we understand that we are in a difficult era, where careers in service have much less “value.” It is for this reason that I try to make sure that the people who are in direct contact with our clients rise up to the standard of my expectations.
I always tell my teams that, of course, we do not know the client, but we are going to bring him a pleasurable experience because this client is coming to stay with us for three hours. It is the client who has chosen to enter our establishment, so it is up to us to provide him with a great deal of pleasure.
Here we are at the bar of Fouquet’s Brasserie in Paris. For me, a place like this is what characterizes France. We feel good here. We are not in a high-tech site, but instead in a place that shows a faded sheen. Today, this is what I am looking for because this faded sheen—this is what brings excellence to things.
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.