Culinary Arts
2 min read

How to keep a Michelin star with the world’s highest staff turnover?

EHL Insights
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The tradition of culinary distinction continues to reign at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. The school is proud to announce that its unique in-house training gastronomic restaurant is again the recipient of the much sought-after award thanks to the efforts of Chef Cédric Bourassin and his first-class team.

Chef Bourassin expresses himself following the award ceremony held in Lugano, Switzerland: “I actually think we’ve improved a lot since the star was first awarded. I put in place a new kitchen hierarchy which means that all the roles are very clearly defined and the organization runs extremely smoothly. No dish leaves the kitchen without being checked by me or one of my sous-chefs – not just for its correct assembly, but also to decide the order in which the dishes are served. In Japan I worked in a restaurant that had three Michelin stars and no detail was ever overlooked.”

The BDS is a training restaurant in which EHL preparatory year students learn and work at five different functions: meat, fish, pastry, cold dishes and hot dishes. Every Monday the teams of students change, which implies a constant rotation that Chef Bourassin must face in order to maintain an uninterrupted and impeccable quality throughout the academic year.

“I have a highly professional team working with me that I trust completely. A good leader must lead by example and cannot manage without trust. There are times when I cannot be present, so I set the tone and delegate where necessary. It’s important to empower those around me, including the trainees. I go out of my way to establish a perfect understanding between myself, my sous-chefs, chefs de partie and the students. We have a briefing session every morning of 5 to 10 minutes that covers all issues from the previous day”, he explained. BDS 2019

 

A telling detail as to how Chef Bourassin sets the tone is the sense of serenity and focus that resides in his work place. A far cry from the highly-strung, stressful kitchen atmospheres that have almost become clichés of the hospitality world (à la Gordon Ramsey), the BDS kitchen is a hive of activity, quiet concentration and respect. A rarified atmosphere that smacks of purity in its intention and delivery. Chef Bourassin uses a microphone to address the entire kitchen area and deliver clear instructions, his staff moves around the work space with a well-informed sense of purpose.

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My kitchen is calm, no raised voices here. For me, this is a sign of respect for our craft and colleagues. I’m here to be an example to the students, I want to instill in them a love of the industry and of gastronomy. I know so many people who have abandoned this trade because of too much pressure and shouting chefs. Mutual respect is a fundamental cornerstone of the business, I learnt this from working with the Bras family many years ago. There is always a basic layer of pressure with every service, why add to it? If good teaching and clear instructions are in place, one can delegate calmly and work in serenity. We all work better in peaceful conditions that allow for more focus and creativity. Although we do not train chefs, our goal is to provide our students with the necessary managerial skills regardless of their career choices.

Heading the BDS kitchen since September 2017, Cédric Bourassin offers a menu inspired by exceptional French cuisine, influenced by his previous work with Anne-Sophie Pic and the Bras family in Laguiole. But the menu is also in pursuit of ‘umami’, the fifth flavor that the passionate chef was able to explore during his long stay in Japan. His list of credits and awards are many, however, possibly the most striking feature of Bourassin’s professionalism is his commitment to the students and their training at the Berceau des Sens.

“Of course it’s great that we won a star for the second time, but the priority for me remains the students and what they stand to learn in my restaurant”, concluded the proud Chef.

 

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