More and more professionals such as lawyers and engineers are showing an interest in gastronomy says David Sinapian, CEO of Anne-Sophie Pic and president of Les Grandes Tables du Monde.
“We have found that staff that do not necessarily have culinary training are not only interested but also capable of following their dreams. They want to be creative and do something different,” David told Food and Wine Gazette after his presentation at the congress organised by the collective of chefs from Wallonia, Generation W.
“What matters most is their motivation and not their training. We have also found that diversity is extremely important for our business. What people might lack in technical skills can be compensated by other skills such as management skills,” he said.
David took over the family business with his wife Anne Sophie Pic more than 20 years ago. Since then, they have grown the Pic group to include not only the three Michelin star restaurant (they got the three Michelin stars back in 2007) but also a five-star hotel as well as many outlets not only in Valence and Paris but also outside of France.
They took over the running of the family business in 1995. Since then the husband and wife duo have built a business that spans different countries and a variety of outlets from a high end gastronomic restaurant to a canteen, a cookery school and Michelin star restaurants in Paris and Lausanne as well as a newly opened restaurant in London.
Anne Sophie Pic did not dream of becoming a chef from when she was young. A graduate from the ISG Business School she discovered her desire to be a chef and learn alongside her father after traineeships with luxury names in the United States and Japan. It was only after these experiences that she discovered her desire to be a chef and decided to turn her talents to the Pic family brand and follow in her father’s footsteps.
In 2007 she was awarded her third Michelin star for her restaurant in Valence. Along with her husband David, she renovated the hotel Maison Pic, opened the Scook cooking school in 2008, and her Lausanne 2 Michelin star restaurant in 2009. In 2012, she launched her La Dame de Pic restaurant in Paris, followed by her gourmet cafeteria Daily Pic in 2014 and more recently La Dame de Pic in London.
David says that today as restauranteurs they are selling an experience. “People who visit a gastronomic restaurant have decided to pay money for an experience instead of buying an object. It is not just about the dish but also about the place, the service, the welcome, the decor, the communication. A story must be told and that is what makes a place special.”
He knows because he is the president of Les Grandes Tables du Monde which is the hallmark of quality restaurants around the world.
David says that recruitment is taken extremely seriously at the Pic group. “We train people with the aim of keeping them with us for as long as possible. What we are looking for is not necessarily culinary talent but people with soft-skills who are autonomous, dynamic, team-players, flexible and have the ability to reinvent themselves.”
This last quality is important particularly since the group likes to give its employees the possibility to move from one place to another. “We also attach a lot of importance to mixing different generations. We believe that older people can add balance to a team. We strive to look for excellence in diversity,” he says.
The emphasis for the group is to train people by showing them the vision of the group and then letting them decide where they want to contribute. “Mobility for us is essential,” he says.
Using the car as an analogy, David says that people could decide to be like a diesel car or a formula one car but they can still find their place within the group.
He says the group is in a permanent recruitment mode. “We find that it is best to employ good people whenever you can find them even if you might not necessarily have a job for them. They can either replace people who leave or else we can create a business with them in mind,” he says.
With over 250 employees (125 in the headquarters Valence) it is not easy to communicate the corporate values but David says that they organise a meeting of employees each year. “We offer flexible arrangements and also the possibility to develop a career. Someone who works in the gastronomic restaurant may want to move to the bistro or vice versa and having the possibility to accommodate people’s wishes is very important,” he says.