OF MARC VEYRAT
Broken dreams. In the lands of his ancestors, at 1650 m above sea level, Marc Veyrat created an Alpine hamlet filled with cozy houses, an exceptional restaurant, a relaxation area carved into the mountainside, an organic farm, patio gardens, bee hives and a botanical course. Combining the architecture of the Savoy region with modern design elements, the result is a rather unique place. Marc Veyrat has also returned to the culinary world, proposing a new mineral and pastoral cuisine. This style of cooking relies on herbs picked at the early hours of the morning and the sublime flavors of the forest that magnify the qualities of farm produce - it’s a cooking style where luxury meets simplicity. All was going well. Until one disastrous night last March. Born in Annecy in 1950, Marc Veyrat grew up on the family farm in Manigod, in the small village of La Croix Fry, a village perched at 1800 m between Clusaz and Col des Aravis. When his grandmother and his mother decided to create a couple guest rooms for the hunters that passed through the region, the young Marc was introduced to the wonderful world of cooking. However, as a teenager, he didn’t manage to follow the traditional career path as an apprentice chef. He was successively fired from 3 restaurants and the hotels in Annecy all slammed their doors in his face. At the age of 19, Marc returned to his father’s farm and became a shepherd and a ski instructor with the ESF (École du Ski Française). 10 years later, in 1978, he opened a small bistro on the farm at the Col de la Croix Fry, an establishment based on family recipes made with local produce. As a guide, he used the cookbooks of Michel Guérard and Paul Bocuse. His restaurant had local Savoy specials and about two or three ready-made dishes. In 1985, an opportunity presented itself. He sold his farmhouse, he sold his sheep and bought a villa in Annecy. In 1986, he received his first Michelin star, followed by a second one in 1987. In 1989 and 1990, he was awarded the title of Chef of the Year by Gault & Millau, with an outstanding rating of 19.5 out of 20. 1992 saw the beginning of his reign at Veyrier du Lac, a restaurant located on the banks of Lake Annecy, part of «L’Auberge de l’Eridan», a Relais & Châteaux with 11 guest rooms. In March of 1995, 9 years after his gastronomical debut, Marc Veyrat gained his third Michelin star and the title of «Chef of the Year». Things went well until 2006, when, during a ski ride through the snowy peaks of Upper Savoy, Marc suffered a terrible ski accident. «I approached skiing like I do cooking - I took risks, I experimented, I lived on the edge.» The chef required a knee operation to fix his ligaments and was left immobilized for quite some time. Following the accident, the life of Marc Veyrat became a surrealistic ordeal in which he ran his restaurant from a wheelchair. It was quite inventive. He used to sit right in the middle of the dining room with a microphone, which he used
to give orders to an army of chefs equipped with earpieces. The kitchen and dining room were so quiet that they resembled the command centers at NASA rather than a military-style establishment filled with loud noises. When a famous 3-star chef came to visit the restaurant, he was in awe of what he saw. «You’re 20 years ahead of your time», he told Marc. «We shifted our focus back towards the food, eliminating all that military rigor. The accident was an eye-opening experience that made me reflect on the meaning of both my own life, as well as the lives of those around me. I value life more, I value each moment spent with the people I love. You can’t imagine how important it is to tell the people around us that we love them! I look more closely to the habits of my children and grandchildren and I repurposed my life in order to fight bad food habits.» 2009: «I cease the majority of my professional activities due to physical exhaustion. I give up my twice-awarded 3 Michelin stars and my two Gault & Millau scores of 20/20 [unbeaten to this day]. I wish to create the first organic Fast Food restaurant, a place based on tinned local produce that will be far ahead of Parisian trends.» 2010: «Yoann Conte, my disciple, will take over my Auberge at Veyrier du Lac on the banks of Lake Annecy. He has already received two Michelin stars in 2013.» 2013: «After three years of work, we’re proud to open La Maison des Bois, a new gastronomical concept based on custom service. I have dedicated myself to a new style of cuisine, one based on creativity, country produce and the protection of the environment, our source of life.»
Recipes Exclusive interview A day with the legendary chef Details on his new restaurant:
By Jean-Christophe Florentin
«For me, it›s the beginning of a new life. 4 years have passed since my accident, and now I›m living my lifelong dream. I managed to recreate small village where I grew up as a child with everything from houses, the chapel, farms, animals, gardens and, above all, the starless gourmet restaurant.»
Carine, the daughter of Marc Veyrat, was Marc’s former Pastry Chef. Now, she manages her own place - La Reine des Prés, a lakeside restaurant in Annecy le Vieux. Here, guests are met with a delicious array of savory and sweet dishes.