Interview: Dominique Loiseau, CEO of the Relais Bernard Loiseau

Mrs Dominique Loiseau graciously accepted to preside over the prestigious Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau for the 7th consecutive year.

 

Mrs Dominique Loiseau

Mrs Dominique Loiseau

What is your principal trait of character?
Since I was very young, I’ve always had things I planned to do. And I’ve done everything to realise them. One step after another, at school and university, and then professionally, and of course as a family. Giving everything my all. Maybe that’s what’s called being a ‘fighter’.

What is your greatest quality?
I’m quite strict and have a strong sense of professionalism (too much so sometimes…). I emphasise with others (sometimes too much). But I try to keep myself in check!

What are the qualities you look for most in other people?
Kindness, loyalty and optimism.

What is your biggest weakness?
I can be terrible in holding a grudge.

What is your favourite tipple?
Wine from Volnay, for pleasure. Sparkling water to quench my thirst.

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite?
Most: Truffle purée at the Relais Bernard Loiseau.
Least: Oysters and fresh coriander.

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
My team and my guests. Or my guests and my teams.

What, for you, is happiness?
It first comes from realising how lucky one is. It is also the satisfaction or pleasure you feel after making great efforts. Yet again, the excitement of a project you’re undertaking. Knowing how to be content with simple moments of happiness, like those that come from the beauty of nature: watching an open fire in the chimney, the sea, a landscape or flowers.

What is your most important personal possession?
It’s certainly my own home and my garden which I work on patiently, day after day.

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
To be able to sing properly!

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally – and why?
I was once a science teacher and a journalist, and I enjoyed both of them. But I realise that I also enjoy renovation works so I think a related field, such as architect, would also have suited me. However, the satisfaction I get from being a restaurant owner and hotelier, a magical little world, and the happiness that my guests feel in my Relais & Châteaux and my others restaurants – all that is absolutely irreplaceable!

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?
Oh la la, it’s a word that applies in so many domains. In our case, it’s innovating without betraying the past and in sticking to our values.

What do you think best translates the wish to pass things on?
On this, I’ll stick to my own case, it’s such a vast subject.

It’s exactly the attitude I’ve had since I taught at the Hotel School in Paris and then as a journalist on the professional weekly, L’Hôtellerie. It’s also the spirit with which I was imbued when I took over the reins of the Loiseau Group in 2003, the perpetuating of a work both for its creator and his children.

Apart from the building (the beautiful Relais & Châteaux), our style of cuisine with its emphasis on taste, our professionalism, handing down also concerns our business culture, the values we share and the solidarity we have with each other. In fact, it’s a kind of immaterial capital within the company which sets us apart from others (the conviviality, the history, the authenticity).

And it seems to me that the family is one of the main assets for handing on in a business like ours. And I hope that one day my children will want to take over and do us proud!

How do you get away from it all?
A change of scenery, that means place, environment, rhythm… with new discoveries, by getting away in order to recharge your batteries and feel rejuvenated. The human organism needs variety and change, otherwise it starts to get bugged up with viruses, as we say in computer terms.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
Its beauty, its sensuality, its gentleness, its peacefulness – in fact it’s another world.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
I go into my garden or to the Morvan (our Canada-like part of Burgundy).

What’s the best compliment someone can pay you?
Just carry on like this!

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
French cuisine undoubtedly! There are so many reasons that I wouldn’t know how to summarise them here. There’s the whole history of cookery in France, unique in the world as it is something handed down including through the hotel schools, similarly unique in all that’s been written in the past about the culinary arts and so on.

You just need to read the documents that supported UNESCO’s decision to inscribe France’s multi-course gastronomic meal on the UNESCO world intangible heritage list to understand our culinary specificities, shared and enjoyed well beyond our own frontiers. The sophisticated nature of our food is a complex matter.

France should cultivate these advantages to promote the need for a varied diet, educate people about taste, promote seasonal produce, always look for produce that is as local as possible – and the handing down of these treasures to younger generations.

French restaurants provide great variety from simple cooking to the most prestigious kind (there are 3,420 French restaurants in the Michelin Guide).

Launch of our first service and ‘arts de la table’ competition

Chefs have become stars, pastry chefs have the status of fashion icons, sommeliers travel to festivals around the world. But what about service and the Maitre’D?

Competing in the first Arts de la Table competition

Competing in the first Arts de la Table competition

This week, Constance Hotels launched the first edition of the service and ‘arts de la table’ competition, setting the pace and the first stone of what will become a major event in years to come.

It’s a contest where passion, love for the job and refinement are key.

The 3 candidates had to impress – and they did - a very high profile jury:

  • Dominique Loiseau, President of Bernard Loiseau SA and Vice President of Relais & Châteaux
  • Enrico Bernardo, best sommelier of the World 2004
  • Denis Reichrath, CEO of Safran (a company specialized in top end supplies and material for restaurants
  • Marc Marivel, group HR director of CHE and former general manager of the hotel school of Mauritius

More to come when we find out who won later in the week…

Highlights from the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

It’s been a fantastic week in Mauritius so far, with the 7th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau providing entertainment, drama, tension and excitement…

Official launch of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Official launch of the festival

The competition is in full swing today. As we wait to find out more, Bruno Le Gac brings us highlights from the last couple of days:

Our Chief Executive launches the festival

‘I declare the 7th edition of Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau open!’ Our CEO, Jean-Jacques Vallet opened officially the festival on Tuesday evening, in a ceremony oozing conviviality and happiness.

More than ever, the top management of Constance Hotels believes in culinary, is attached to the human values carried by the festival and wishes to develop this unique concept.

Music to the ears of the passionate team at Constance Hotels Experience.

Serge Vieira delights at La Spiaggia

Serge Vieira

Serge Vieira

Tonight, Wednesday, an exceptional dinner took place at La Spiaggia, the casual chic restaurant next to the villas at Belle Mare Plage. Festival 2011 winner and recently promoted 2 Michelin star chef, Serge Vieira (who is also Bocuse d’Or 2005) presented an amazing dinner full of flavours and freshness.

A unique occasion for our team of chefs to work next to one of the most brilliant representatives of the young French culinary scene.

Halaveli chef cooks up a feast at Le Prince Maurice

Another amazing dinner took place on Wednesday. New Zealander and Executive Chef at Halaveli, Glen Cooper, prepared a fabulous feast at L’Archipel, Le Prince Maurice. Fantastic oysters with caviar, delicious sweet potato soup, juicy, soft and extra tasty lamb shepherd’s pie, and of course Pavlova as a tasty and very elegant dessert…

The name of Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives was on all the lips tonight…

Competition day at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

It’s Thursday and the big day has arrived at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Our island cooks go head-to-head as they create their fabulous dishes to impress the judges.

Fabrice Biasiolo and Ravish Mukri, Day 1 Trials

Fabrice Biasiolo and Ravish Mukri

The final countdown

Here, Christopher Barber shares his insights from yesterday as the mercury starts to rise in the kitchens.

The jury meet in the presidential villa of Constance Belle Mare Plage. There are new members this year so the final briefing is essential. The scoring system and judging criteria isn’t complicated but could be interpreted differently, so as a Jury we need to be at one.

As I write, the European chefs will have completed their final brief and the island chefs will be on their own. The tension will be high. I hope the Islanders can leave anxiety to their European partners, and that they can relax and do themselves justice.

The jury meets at 11.30. I will have a walk on the beach to clear my mind, and a very light breakfast – I have my eating to do today!

Patrick Bittner and Nuwan Hettiarachchi Day 1 Trials at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Patrick Bittner and Nuwan Hettiarachchi

Inside the world of our judges, European chefs and island cooks

We’ve published some interviews on our blog but there are lots more on our special website for the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Our judges, chefs and cooks reveal what drives them professionally, their favourite food, what creativity means to them and much much more.

The Jury – Christopher Barber, Enrico Bernardo, Patrick Bertron, Serge Vieira, Dominique Loiseau, Claus Meyer

The European Chefs – Fabrine Biasolo, Patrick Bittner, Jacques Decoret, Dominique Gauthier, Angela Hartnett, David Johansen

The Island Cooks - Ankur Daru, Kamlesh Doorjean, Nuwan Hiettiarachchi, Ravish Mukri, Jayram Seenanum, Hildy Sinon

More great photos from the festival on Facebook

Visit our Constance Facebook page to see more photos from the festival.

Don’t miss these great French culinary blogs

  • Chef Simon – for recipes, videos, commentary and more
  • Cuisine Addict – packed full of delicious recipes and foodie commentary

Interview: Christopher Barber

Christopher Barber has over 30 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry, and has carried out nearly every role you can imagine.

Christopher Barber

Christopher Barber

Christopher is one our judges at this year’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

  • Previously Chef to HRH The Prince of Wales and food consultant

What is your principal trait of character?
Good humour.

What is your greatest quality?
Patience.

What are the qualities you look for most in other people?
Kindness.

What is your biggest weakness?
Don’t know!!

What is your favourite tipple?
White wine (chardonnay).

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite?
Anything cooked by someone else… because I appreciate the effort that goes into cooking.

I dislike ready meals, though I never eat them.

What has been your best experience professionally?
Being part of the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau (really!).

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
All of my clients, whether they are high profile, or new to the business, I treat them all the same.

What, for you, is happiness?
Spending time with my family.

What is your most important personal possession?
I don’t value material goods…

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
Humility.

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally?
I would have loved to be involved in some way in sport… especially tennis.

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?
Creativity is the most valuable commodity, it is often dismissed and not celebrated as it should be… without creation we have no joy in our lives. 

How do you get away from it all?
A place where my mind stops thinking about troubles and stress.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
Beautiful place, beautiful people, wonderful friends and the best hospitality in the world.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
Go for a long run in the countryside where I live.

What’s the best compliment someone can pay you?
Being liked is the greatest and simplest compliment.

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
Sri Lankan - it is where my family is from, and has one of the world’s most underrated cuisines – fantastic fruit and vegetables, beautiful spices, wonderful fish. Presentation is not so important but flavour…

Interview: Jacques Decoret

Award winning-chef, Jacques Decoret, is one of our Michelin star chefs competing at this week’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2012.

Jacques Decoret

Jacques Decoret

Maison Decoret, Vichy, France

  • Meilleur Ouvrier de France

What is your principal trait of character?
Thoughtful and tenacious.

What is your greatest quality?
Enthusiastic and particular.

What are the qualities you look for most in other people?
Forthrightness.

What is your biggest weakness?
Shy and something of a loner.

What is your favourite tipple?
Vichy-Fraise.

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite? Why?
I like everything because I’m quite greedy, especially when it comes to pastries.

What has been your best experience professionally?
The building up with my wife of our own restaurant and all the preparation and commitment involved in obtaining the title of One of the best Ouvrier de France in 1996, and of course all the wonderful establishments we’ve worked in.

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
My wife and colleagues, who’ve stayed with me for years, as well as all the suppliers, growers and breeders for their great produce.

What, for you, is happiness?
Daily life: to be able to get up in the morning, walk, speak, love and be loved.

What is your most important personal possession?
My fingers, my hands, a book of recipes and my knives.

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
I would have liked to have the gift of healing/magnetic healing so as to be able to relieve people who are suffering.

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally?
Sculptor in wood, working in the art field.

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?
A place, a journey, a product, a memory, a moment in life.

What do you think best translates the wish to pass things on?
It’s feeling a sense of responsibility for the staff you take on – apprentices and trainees – as if they’re your own children, so that they can progress professionally.

How do you get away from it all?
It’s eating food you’ve not previously tasted, finding fresh horizons.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
The sun, the beaches, Mauritian men and women, their produce, travelling around and the change of scenery.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
Doing odd jobs around the house, gardening and just being on my own.

What’s the best compliment someone can pay you?
You’re a trailblazer!

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
Each cuisine has its own identity, regions, country, but I would certainly be inclined to single out what is called French cuisine, which has attained a global dimension. But there are some remarkable dishes in China, India and Japan. However, it’s the quality of produce and savoir-faire above all that determine the success of a dish.