The re­tourn


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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.

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