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By Chris | December 19 2013
The most starred chef in the world often travels to the countryside in search of local produce. But, this time, he is visiting a farm of another kind in the village of Le Brassus, Switzerland for quite another reason.
The reason is the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Blancpain, a very different realm to gastronomy that also strikes a chord with Joël Robuchon.
Long before the current craze for gastronomy, Blancpain developed close ties with Frédy Girardet, chef at the Hôtel de Ville Restaurant in Crissier. This meeting marked the birth of the intimate belief that there is a clear relationship between haute gastronomie and traditional watchmaking. Both watchmakers and cooks nurture a common passion for craftsmanship and precision, performing tiny adjustments and achieving a subtle balance between tradition and inventiveness in a spirit of authenticity and an ongoing quest for perfection.
When Frédy Girardet, Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon were nominated “Cuisiniers du siècle” (Chefs of the Century) by Gault et Millau in 1989, Blancpain paid tribute to them by awarding them with a specially hand-engraved watch. Long associated with the Bocuse d’Or and the Swiss selection process, still linked by a strong friendship with Frédy Girardet and his successors Philippe Rochat, and subsequently Benoît Violier, the Manufacture from Le Brassus is today proud to be consolidate its ties with Joël Robuchon.
Joël Robuchon, whose first steps in gastronomy were as an apprentice and then as a companion, he took charge of the Concorde Lafayette Hotel kitchens at just 29 years old. He was voted “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (Best Artisan in France) in 1976 at this establishment, and in 1981, he opened “Le Jamin”, subsequently winning three Michelin stars in three years. He earned the title of “Chef of the Year” in 1987, followed by “Chef of the Century” in 1989. In 1994, the restaurant bearing his name was nominated “Best Restaurant in the World”.
Wishing to make cooking more accessible, he was then featured in several television programmes. Parallel to this, his travels provided him with the inspiration of developing the original concept of “L’Atelier Joël Robuchon” (cookery workshops) which promoted his cuisine based on high-quality produce in a friendly atmosphere.
The success of the “Ateliers” in Paris and Tokyo, which opened simultaneously in 2003, turned haute gastronomie traditions on their head and led Joël Robuchon to develop the concept further. Thanks to his talent in the choice and training of his chefs, he is currently the world’s most multi-starred cook with no less than 28 stars in the Michelin guide.
A quest for excellence, know-how, precise gestures, passion and meticulous hand craftmanship, friendliness and knowledge transfer: the great French chef naturally recognises in Blancpain his own values and the principles he applies in his cuisine. Celebrating this joint philosophy, the Manufacture from Le Brassus and Joël Robuchon are combining their strengths to promote their respective arts and shared values.
This union is the successful outcome of the longstanding support that Blancpain has provided to haute gastronomie. And what finer demonstration of this loyalty could there be than the friendship that has connected the Manufacture to three generations of chefs from the Hôtel de Ville in Crissier?
The rendezvous with Joël Robuchon is indeed also an opportunity to meet at Benoît Violier’s table. Joël Robuchon already suggested this promising young talent to Frédy Girardet in 1996 and he swiftly became indispensable. When Giradet handed over the establishment to Philippe Rochat a year later, there was no question of letting him return to France. Fifteen years later, in 2012, he took charge of the Hôtel de Ville kitchens.
Through its privileged relationships with the greatest chefs in the world, adding up to more than 100 stars, including those attributed to Joël Robuchon, Frédy Girardet, Philippe Rochat, Benoît Violier, Michel Troisgros and Marc Haeberlin as well as Daniel Humm and Claude Bosi, as well as through its Letters From Le Brassus magazine of which the articles on gastronomy, great wines and local produce delight several tens of thousands of readers, the Manufacture is pursuing its commitment – more convinced than ever that the triptych of passion, authenticity and emotion constitute the common ground of Fine Watchmaking and haute gastronomie.