Part of the concept is that the presentation of your dishes is very aesthetic. They look like art.
The dishes must be very beautiful. This also influences the perception of taste. And today there are so many pictures being shared on social media. A beautifully prepared plate is the best advertisement for us. I’m not sure if that can be called art. Art can also be very simple things.
During your young career you have worked in ten different countries. What is different in Geneva?
The customer. They love the food, know what quality is and have the money to pay for it. They are great customers that we have. But the products are also great, such as from the vegetable farmer or the morels from Valais. I really fought for this. I did not negotiate the price and paid the price that was asked of us. The morels come in twelve different baths with 35 degree warm water until the last grain of sand has come out of the sac fungus.
Where are your customers from?
From Geneva, Lausanne, Valais and the rest of Switzerland and also some from abroad.
You had two Michelin stars in Taiwan, but none here in Geneva because the two restaurants just opened. What is your goal for 2022?
That’s a bit of a tricky question. But I want to answer them honestly. Sure, a Michelin star is always a plus that helps us and is what’s best for the company. Of course I hope that we will be awarded. A Michelin star is also an award for the producers and the whole team behind the work.
Her secret recipe for the star?
That does not exist. They have to do what they feel like. And the testers decide whether your work is worth a star or not.
You keep talking about your team. How easy is it for you to find staff?
Finding people isn’t hard, but finding the right people who put their heart and soul into it and are passionate about our job is much harder. Sure, the Robuchon name lures potential employees. But that alone is not enough.
Joël Robuchon was very strong in the kitchen. Sometimes the chefs ran away from him in droves. What kind of manager are you?
I am like a father who is friendly but also speaks my mind. I have been working in this profession for almost 20 years and have been a chef for over 10 years. I’ve seen a lot – even things I don’t want to see in the kitchen. There is no yelling about me. If I don’t like something, it may be that my voice gets louder. Then I ask a chef to prepare the dish again. If after the third time it is not as I explained, I tell the clerk that I expect his respect for the customers and the products.
Is there music playing in your kitchen?
Before and after the main service yes, but not during the cooking. Then maximum concentration is required. Our chefs have it good. You work 3.5 days and then have 3.5 days off. You know what I love about the Oetker Collection (the Oetker Hotel Management Company operates eleven hotels like the Woodward with top restaurants like L’Atelier de Robuchon, editor’s note)?
The management doesn’t talk about employees, but about talents. The Oetker Collection has understood how to achieve success. It’s not just the beautiful hotel building with luxurious rooms or the food alone, but the way the staff treats you. The key to success is having permission to feel good. Of course they have to work too. But in the end it’s all about personal trust.