The will to succeed an 18th -century restaurant – Guy Martins talks of dreams, love, and respect

Le Grand Véfour
Guy Martin
Le Grand Véfour Guy Martin

Le Grand Véfour Guy Martin

I was not going to be a chef. I was standing when I realized.

Nice meeting you. I heard that the first time you handled food was when you were 19 years old and became a pizza chef.

Guy Martin:
Yes. I was raised in a mountain neighborhood called Savoie, so I was always interested in mountain guides, pop music, and guitars.

While doing those activities, I was as a pizzaiolo (pizza-baking craftsman) to pay my way.

To earn living expenses?

Mr. Guy Martin:
Yes. I was not particularly interested in baking pizza or cooking, so it was simply to earn money. It was not like I was training as a pizzaiolo.

After that, how did you become a chef?

Mr. Guy Martin:
I was not originally going to be a chef at all. But in France we needed to get a Baccalauréat*
to enter an institution of higher education, so I was always reading three or four books simultaneously to prepare.

Then I encountered a recipe book called Ali-Bab, and I was devoted to it. I suddenly started to think it might be good to become a chef, and started trying the 5,000 recipes in the book. I often went to restaurants and grew up with an excellent cook for a mother, so it was easy t became familiar with cooking.

*Baccalauréat: Exam system used in France to verify the completion of secondary education, which is needed to enter college

You even got the Baccalauréat! Do you think it was necessary to study using books to enter the field of culinary arts?

Mr. Guy Martin:
No. In my case, I didn’t plan on becoming a chef in the first place, so it was completely just an accident. That experience of intense studying helps me even now, though the process is different for each person. There are many people who became chefs after having helped the family with cooking since they were eight or ten.

Le Grand Véfour Guy Martin

The job title “Gran Chef” (“great chef”)

Now people around the world call you Gran Chef (great chef).

Mr. Guy Martin:

You have succeeded a historical restaurant which has been in operation for more than 200 years, have experienced receiving three Michelin stars, and have been chosen as one of the seven most valuable chefs in the world. I certainly think you are a Gran Chef.

Mr. Guy Martin:
Thank you.

Do you think that you are a Gran Chef?

Mr. Guy Martin:
I have never thought about it. Indeed I belong to communities related to that kind of thing and there are times that people evaluate me as such, but I cannot answer that question.
Because if I ask myself that question, I would never be able to get to the answer. Whether I am a Gran Chef or not is an eternal question for me.

I see. Then if you are reborn, would you want to be a chef again?

Mr. Guy Martin:
Well, it is a tough question. I have never experienced other jobs, so I wouldn’t know what to expect if I do a different job.

But one thing that is sure is that this job of “chef” that I have now has given me everything.
I was given opportunities to go to Europe and other countries around the world through this job, and I have many important friends and peers.

And I believe that the job of a chef is a rare one. I mean there is no other job that “converts” something.

What do you mean?

Mr. Guy Martin:
Chefs convert substances called ingredients into food. Appearances and aromas are all changed until they are totally different from the original materials. Think about it. Don’t you think there is no other such job like this? I am proud of it.

I guess you would become a chef again if you are reborn!

Mr. Guy Martin:

If so, would you want to cook at Le Grand Véfour?

Mr. Guy Martin:
To me, Le Grand Véfour is a dream restaurant.

There are many famous people who have left their legacy to its history. Many have also visited, including Maria Callas the soprano, Napoleon, artist Jean Cocteau, novelist Colette, the philosopher Sartre, and so on.

It is extraordinary.

Mr. Guy Martin:
They really came to this restaurant and had meals here. More than 200 years ago, Napoleon and his wife Joséphine had dinner here.

Chairs that historical figures have sat at have their names printed on them, and guests can dine sitting on those chairs. It’s hard to find such restaurant no matter how hard you look.
To be able to serve meals at that kind of restaurant is like a dream come true, and such an honor.

Le Grand Véfour interior

Le Grand Véfour

+33 (0)1 42 96 56 27
17 rue de beaujolais 75001 PARIS FRANCE
Saturday and Sunday