For a few years, I have been committed with Relais & Châteaux to develop values of humanity, hospitality, art of living, sharing and preserving resources. Not long ago, we published our manifest in twenty points that will become the common thread of all the Relais & Châteaux houses through the world and whose principles are the preservation of the world’s cuisines, sharing passion for beauty and good, and creating a more human world.
What started in 1941 as an adventure with friends along the RN7, the « route du bonheur » (road of happiness) is today a group of 520 establishments in 60 countries gathered to “make the world a better place through dining and hospitality” with twenty commitments that make the base of what we hope will become a movement, humble but determined.
Relais & Châteaux is a loi 1901 association, meaning all its members are equal, they are all owners. It is this associative dimension that interests me, and the fact that we are all craft persons
and that we use these crafts daily to fight against renunciation and facility, so that our humanity can express through hospitality and food, so that emotion and magic can be preserved and invigorated, so that the cultural and natural environments of our members across the world can be shared and transmitted, through borders and generations.
Food is a very important aspect of this commitment for me. Facing the evolutions of cuisine, not always positive ones, and the excess in the luxury industry, more and more ostentatious, disincarnated and standardized, the members of & Châteaux and myself have decided to act, to claim our status of food and hospitality craftsmen, to honour our position of successors and keepers of the great cultural history of hospitality and world cuisine and become a reference in this fight, led by so many others worldwide, by sharing the beautiful and the good to take part in the re-enchantment of the world!
For this reason, we are going to act on three levels: preserving world cuisines, sharing the passion for beauty and good, and the ambition of a more human world. Through the preservation of cuisines we want to go even further, we want to be the protectors of the terroirs and the precursors of new cuisines, always in agreement with the place and its inhabitants; we want to be actors in preserving the biodiversity, cultural diversity and humanity’s pantry.
We want a more human world, a fairer, happier and better world, and I think that food and hospitality cannot be overlooked during this process. They have been part of humanity for centuries and have played a role in the balance of societies and civilizations for this long, so it is essential to considerate them as the cement that unites the peoples, as humanity’s immaterial patrimony.
As vice president, the twenty principles published in our manifesto are dear to me because their goal is to include the men and women working at the Maisons Relais & Châteaux.
From the beginning, it is the human dimension that touched me and pushed me to take part in this adventure. Without the human dimension, Relais & Châteaux would just be a big group without a soul.
For me, it is all the differences from one Relais & Châteaux to another that are fascinating; this is the true richness of humanity, the one that I want to protect and encourage to express. Instead of leaning towards standardization, that can sometimes be an easy solution, I want to encourage these craftsmen around the world to affirm their identity.
With Relais & Châteaux, we try to give these 62 nationalities and almost 550 houses these guidelines and passion that are in the 20 principles of the manifesto. In the end, we all do the same thing, but differently, so these 20 principles are the foundation on which they can rely to create their own house, that guide them to create, in harmony with their history and environment, the place they imagined.
Relais & Châteaux are also restaurants and today, when we talk about Relais & Châteaux cuisine, we talk about famous chefs. We are proud to have that many legendary chefs with us but they only represent 30% of our chefs… I want to talk about the other 70%, I want to offer my experience and my energy so that people start talking about these chefs that create a sincere cuisine, in total harmony with their place and patrimony.
With the Relais & Châteaux manifesto, it is a vision of the world that I want to share and spread through the 550 houses. This vision gives the first place to the human factor, it wants to make the houses guardians of the terroir and scouts that open the way to a creative cuisine, sustainable and activist. These twenty principles, these values I defend, are the same that have been moving me for years and that I practice every day at the Maisons de Bricourt, and I am happy to have the chance to take it even further with Relais & Châteaux.
The twenty principles of the Relais & Châteaux manifesto have three main aspects. The first one is the preservation of world cuisines and it relies on ten actions: we want to offer a cuisine that is the expression of a natural and cultural environment and illustrates the diversity of the world cuisines, promote the welcoming cultures and cultivate human relationships. Install a dialog with the members of the agricultural and maritime industry to develop a Conservatory of rare species and varieties to contribute to the protection of the halieutic resources and of the marine biodiversity by promoting responsible fishing methods. We want to reduce food waste and pillage by using local and seasonal produce and limit the impact of the Relais & Châteaux houses’ activities on the environment and climate with the SRA label (Sustainable Restaurant Association). We want to mix health and pleasure, participate in the education of taste and contribute to the transmission and enrichment of food as an immaterial patrimony of the humanity.
The second part of our commitment is about sharing our passion for beauty and good. We want to allow producers that supply our restaurants, thanks to a fair wage, to live well from their organic agriculture, without chemicals or GMO. We want to make sure the young people we train get a professional recognition anywhere in the world and we want to give our co-workers honest and valuable work conditions and remuneration. We want to develop the “art of taking care of others”, give to everyone a personalized attention and create relationships with the local authorities to participate to the conception and setting up of local development programs.
Our third principle is to affirm our role in creating a more human world. Relais & Châteaux participates in the promotion of manual work and invests locally with our co-workers to help communities in some territories to create bonds between the city and the countryside. We want to create alliances with people committed in the same fights (against food waste, to maintain agriculture and preserve species…) and to share publicly with the Relais & Châteaux houses, chefs, maîtres d’hôtel, sommeliers, head housekeepers, the same values during our local or international meetings and actively take part in “making the world a better place through food and hospitality” and get the Arts de Vivre recognized as a 10th art!
This manifesto will provoke changes, exchanges, sharing that I will be sharing with you!