What are the advantages and disadvantages of working for a place so prestigious?
N.S.: We are of a generation that uses disadvantages to create advantages. These days, we are very human interaction oriented, there’s not one personality more dominant than another, which is very important. For me, an establishment like the Ritz is above all about teamwork.
F.P.: Einstein said: “As long as we have a head like a hammer, we can see problems in the form of nails.” That’s the way we see things!
Estelle, you are in charge of 40,000 bottles of which several thousands are grand crus? How does one go about familiarizing oneself with a wine cellar so important?
By doing inventory and by counting all the bottles one by one! Physically doing an inventory allows me to fully own my heritage of the cellar.
What are the criteria that a wine must meet before becoming part of the Ritz wine cellar?
There is an intrinsic quality to wine, depending on the chef’s cuisine and some of my personal preferences. But one must think about the client above all else. One does not create a wine menu to please oneself, but to please the guests.
Nicolas and François, how do you both plan to please the clients at the Paris Ritz?
N.S.: With emotion, humility, and a product that is pure and simple. Today clients like things that are real, sincere, accessible, and understandable. Generally speaking in cuisine, simplicity is the best way to go. There is no need to complicate something that is already exceptional on its own. And in addition, listening to the client’s needs is important, we should be able to answer to all their requests.
F.P.: We work with the client as top priority all the while trying to bring our own personal touch, in this mythical place with a rich background. Therefore, we also need to keep in mind the classics of French gastronomy.
Is this because the Ritz has been and continues to be all about French gastronomy?
N.S.: The Ritz is an institution, from its emblematic chefs to its Escoffier school. For me, I am only the tenth chef. In 120 years of existence, there have only been ten chefs. This proves that it is a family run business that takes time to do things right, which is reassuring for our clients. This is not to say that we are anchored to the past, but that we are taking the reins. Me, I am taking the reins of Michel Roth, for me this heritage is primordial.
F.P.: I also think that it is very important that the Ritz is independent. We really feel this from the inside: the Paris Ritz is a home above all, before it is a hotel.
What can we wish for you for the opening day?
E.T.: That the clients are as happy and enthusiastic as we are!