Guillaume Crampon – a co-president of the guide Gault & Millau, the most notable rival to the Michelin Guide. The Gault & Millau guide is an expert title in the field of restaurants and gastronomy, recognized by the world culinary community, published in printed version and in the form of an electronic application. The Gault & Millau guide is the leader in France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Australia, Poland and Switzerland in expert appraisal of restaurants and wines. Gault & Millau emphasizes that the guide’s employees visit places anonymously, and pay for the meals themselves. The rating system is 20-point. A restaurant can get up to 15 points on the basis of specific criteria for evaluating a dish, where the judges assess the quality and freshness of ingredients, the use of spices, creativity and overall level of the use of technics, the quality of serving the dishes, the overall compatibility of tastes, and the «wow» effect — something special that impresses the visitor. Additional 5 points can be assigned for service, atmosphere and general impression of the restaurant. Each assessment is accompanied by a corresponding number of chef’s white hats or touques blanche. During Chef Congress Fontegro Ukraine 2018, PostEat met with Guillaume Crampon to find out if it is possible for Ukraine to appear in such an authoritative gastronomic guide.
About his career
I was too young when I have joined the restaurant business. At the age of 12, when I wasn’t very successful at school, I visited the restaurant called La Mère Poulard, at Le Mont-Saint-Michel, in the west of France. A waiter was doing a kind of an omelet, a specialty of this restaurant. He was playing with the eggs all day long, making funny noises. When I say how he communicates with the guests, I have decided that his is the job I want to have one day. I wanted to welcome people like he did. So, I have started my education in a gastronomic school in Paris, and at the age of 15 or 16 I got my very first job in a restaurant. It`s about 30 years, since I’ve began!
To be an expert is not a choice. For me, being an expert means to have the possibility of giving a chance to all markets and cuisine to be at the podium, and to say that everybody can be in this environment. There are not only 50 best chefs in the world. There are many more chefs who have dedicated their lives to restaurants. At Gault & Millau we are trying to be fair, and to give correct information to travelers all over the world. We want to be a part of the world of travelers. And, we can help the world to eat better.
About global trends
Of course, one of the strongest trends now is the assertion of locavores; that is, persons interestd in eating food that is locally produced. In the area of consuming, vegan style is also very strong globally. People are trying to eat less meat because of the pollution it is being linked to. I think the world is becoming more conscious about the healthier choices of foods – for humans and the planet too — because nowadays, we cannot afford to say to the next generations that we have not been informed. We must take on our proper responsibilities.
About the current situation in Ukraine
At the beginning, every gastronomic system needs to be properly organized; it needs to have a chef who is able to cover all knowledge and technical elements of the system. This, understandably, is still “in the making” in Ukraine. But, there is one very important and positive dynamic here in Ukraine; namely, the fact that you have finally entered on a global (gastronomic / culinary) stage. You are thus able to compare and exchange experience, which – inevitably – brings about change.
You are very lucky, having such a fruitful local produce. This is a very important point. When this environment of producers and farmers will meet the one of restaurateurs, your market will grow immediately.
I think a chef’s role at that point will become extremely important. The investors will understand that they need to have a trend chef — that is, a good chef, who will represent and head communication for the restaurant business.
That`s why I think you are only at the beginning of Ukrainian “gastronomic history”. Things must still be organized and structured with the main target in sight. Ukraine needs a leader of the culinary market: someone, who is able to fix that. This could be the government, investors, or transnational companies. But, certainly, you need a leader, because if everyone tries to do things alone, nothing will happen here.
About the local produce
Cooperation with local craftsmen will definitely make Ukraine much stronger in all spheres of life. In other words, when you start to appreciate and use local produce, you are able to consume more products of better quality, and you can export. I think the world is changing in the way of consuming things; it is becoming more locavore with the new generation of millennials taking on the stage. It’s high time to slow down and look around.
About restaurants in Ukraine
The first day when I have arrived I was a bit disappointed, even if the quality of food I ate was high. I have met very talented chefs, and have tasted many interesting dishes. But they were all were using foreign produce to prepare foreign dishes. I did not understand why! We all are like food travelers. When we travel to different countries, we want to discover what local people eat – the national cuisine: traditional or modern. We want to feel these vibes. I did not come to Ukraine to eat Japanese or Italian cuisine. If I would want to have a good pizza, I would go to Italy! Because, truth be told, you cannot ensure the exact, authentic way of making it.
Afterwards, I have met a number of restaurant owners and chefs, and what was interesting to see is that there are people in Ukraine, who want to follow the locavore movement and, who are trying to find and use good local products: vegetables, meat and cheese.
And then, everything started to move a bit. This is encouraging. Good chef need to be proud of their country first, they need to have the knowledge of produce, they need to travel in order to understand what is going on, and they must have the possibility to visit restaurants regularly.
About the chances for Ukrainian restaurants to appear in Gault & Millau guide
This is the responsibility of Ukrainian people — to do the job and try to be a part of this universe. But, I think there is a possibility to do it here, for sure. You have chefs, you have produce and products, you have restaurants, you have people who can say this will work or nor. But, you have to find an economic model for this business, and for the gastronomic model. I have heard that Wine Spectator hs recently distinguished nine Ukrainian restaurants. That`s great! It means that Ukrainians want to develop their gastronomic culture. And, I think your market has to be (further) opened — this is the most important thing! – where everybody should have the economic possibility of visiting restaurants of different levels.
About the fun side of the sphere
Last year I have developed Gault & Millau guide in Russia. The funniest part was reading the menus, which were in Russian, without translation. And the waiters did not know English either. So, it was practically impossible to ask about something on the menu, which meant that I did like I do with lottery tickets – I made blind choices. I was served surprising dishes, because I didn’t know what I have ordered. But, it was good! We wanted to list about 300 Russian restaurants; unfortunately, we have managed to select only 50.
About successful chefs
First on the list is Paul Bocuse, because he started to bring chefs out from the kitchen and onto the podium. He has shown that a chef’s work is more than simply cooking tasty food. This role has changed, because now it is all about the products.
I also have to mention Ferran Adria, who has presented an innovative philosophy of food business, and a revolutionary approach to processing of ingredients.
About successful restaurants
We could discuss this for hours! I would say, though, that it is – above all — about having a good offer that respects your culture. You must not forget your heritage! Do what you know; don’t try to do what you don’t know. Preserve your heritage and gastronomic culture, even if you want to modernize it! And, of course, look around you, experience, compare, and exchange!
by Yaroslava Honchar, editor: Ziva Kokolj
Photo by lliya Volkov
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