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The Team Player
I’m like a football club manager”, says Patrice Noël, “I’m the head of the team. And without the team, I’m nothing”. Patrice Noël has been Chef Exécutif of Le Royal Hotel Luxembourg since September 2016.
His team is quite large. Patrice Noël, you see, is not only responsible for the hotel’s restaurant “Amélys”, but also for the high end restaurant “La Pomme Cannelle”, home to master chef Paul Fourier. And for its catering services as well. In short: Patrice Noël oversees the luxury hotel’s entire culinary output.
The 48-year-old Frenchman has literally come a long way. He spent the last ten years working in the Canadian province of„Québec, first for two restaurants, later in his own establishment (“La Récré”), and finally as a consultant to a food importing company. Prior to that he received classic culinary training in France, worked at several restaurants (including “Le Fouquet’s” in Paris), and branched out on his own with the restaurant “Urbain Dubois”, near Marseille. After a short sojourn in England, Patrice Noël also worked as Chef Exécutif at two Michelin-starred hotels in France.
He was drawn to go out into the world many times. He brought a Canadian management style with him to Europe. “In North America, one is perhaps a bit closer to the people than in Europe.” What he means: “Everyone in the team must show respect for everyone else.” Vanity, he says, is “how a team falls apart”. His employee’s opinions are just as important as everyone else’s: “I want to hear them, too. And afterwards, the decisions fall to me.”
It is important to Noël that collaboration between “Amélys” and its haute cuisine counterpart “La Pomme Cannelle” runs smoothly. “We must be prepared to help each other at all times. There had always been cooperation in the past, but I would like to see this become second nature to everyone.” In any case, one thing is clear to him: “I will go wherever I am needed”.
With “Amélys”, Patrice Noël has taken over a freshly and completely renovated hotel restaurant with a good working environment. “The guest notices the difference when the staff is happy in the workplace”, he says. This especially applies to restaurants with sophisticated cuisine, where the dishes can be somewhat complicated. He particularly liked the idea of opening up the kitchen to the guests as much as possible, something that is especially popular with Sunday brunch patrons.
Enjoy making our guests happy. If one doesn’t enjoy the work, the result can never be good.
“Our guests enjoy watching the chef at work”, says Noël. “They see the ingredients. And while the chef is preparing, say, coquilles St Jacques, he can also relate stories and describe the process.” He is proud to work with a number of small suppliers which produce high-quality products. “These producers deserve some time in the spotlight. And one can also explain to the guests what makes the butter taste the way it does. Explaining what we do makes a difference.” Direct contact between kitchen and clientele is limited at “Amélys” due to the relatively large number of diners; however, in “Pomme Cannelle”, the barriers between stove and table could be removed.
Patrice Noël is present in the kitchen as much as possible. He takes care of purchasing products, and does so with a passion. During his apprentice years, he was given the opportunity to accompany his chef to the Rungis International Market in Paris. “That’s where I learned to enjoy the production. I was very fortunate.” And for this creativity, he needs room. Ideas for new dishes often come to him “through a kind of inspiration”. The ideas don’t have to be his, however; each team member is welcome to come up with their own.
For Patrice Noël, the establishment of his two restaurants fulfilled a life-long dream (“You want to know what it’s like to create your own thing”), but that working as an employee brings entirely different challenges, involving the the use of large resources creatively as well as economically. This isn’t easy, considering the difficulty in finding the right candidates for such hard, strenuous work. It’s therefore alll the more important that the entire team is happy in their work. “We should enjoy the work that we do. Enjoy making our guests happy. If one doesn’t enjoy the work, the result can never be good.”
LE ROYAL HOTEL LUXEMBOURG
12 Boulevard Royal – L-2449 Luxembourg
Tel. 24 16 16 1