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This much I know: Gregory Marchand

20 May 2018 by
This much I know: Gregory Marchand

Gregory Marchand is the owner of Frenchie on the Rue de Nil in Paris, and its London outpost in Covent Garden. The former Jamie Oliver Fifteen chef, who cut his teeth at the Mandarin Oriental, Knightsbridge, speaks to Katie Pathiaki about the challenges he's overcome and his advice for others wanting to open their own restaurants

My first job was a summer position at a local pizzeria in western France. It was in the seaside commune of Batz-sur-Mer, near the town of Guérande, which is famous for its view of the salt marshes.

Frenchie started as a place I would want to visit and, more importantly, to come back to. It is a combination of my different experiences travelling around the world and the different cultures I have encountered. It's authentic, genuine and delicious. Today, Frenchie is a 24-seat restaurant with a single tasting menu, a wine bar with a contemporary small plate menu, a deli counter serving pastrami sandwiches, lobster rolls, hot dogs and pulled pork (all meat is smoked in-house), a wine shop and a 65-seat restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden, with an à la carte menu and tasting menu with an optional wine pairing.

We want all of our sites to prioritise guest experience. No matter what we tackle, whether it's a fine dining restaurant or a sandwich shop.

The best thing about my career is the opportunity to travel the world. I also get to meet lots of amazing people and to discover amazing cultures and food.

The key to success is understanding that your staff are crucial to your business. I started Frenchie almost nine years ago in 2009. It was a 24-seat restaurant with one waiter and myself. Today, we have three restaurants and a wine shop in Paris and we employ more than 60 people.

The business grew organically through following gut instinct, taking risks and seizing opportunities. We always do things that we love and the first question before we take on any project is: "are we going to have a good time?"

The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is to never stay in your comfort zone. You should always challenge the status quo.

Spending most of my twenties in London has had a huge impact on who I am today. Almost 10 years after leaving London I began to miss it, so when the opportunity to return arose, my wife Marie and I didn't hesitate for a second. I don't think we realised at the time how much of a life-changing decision it would be. We are thrilled that today we are able to split our time between two of the most amazing cities in the world.

The main ways I've seen the industry change compared to when I started are chefs are putting less and less protein on the plate but using better sauces. Protein is now used almost as a condiment rather than a main ingredient. It doesn't make it vegetarian, but it's definitely vegetable-driven.

Chefs are becoming more and more waste-conscious.

Staff retention is something I have on my mind at the moment. As a growing business, we need to create opportunities for all of our staff. The industry is facing a huge shortage of trained people. This is mainly due to a growing number of restaurants worldwide. We need to make our industry more attractive for young people, but this is no easy task as it's a demanding job with long hours and low wages. Company core values, culture and being benevolent are probably what will make us succeed or fail.

My motto is 'less is more'.

What do I want to see happen in the industry in the next five years? Better salaries and better working conditions for everyone in hospitality, as well as an improved work-life balance.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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