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).