Maison Lenôtre, caterer pastry chef: “There is a wave of panic among the reception organizers …”

Lenôtre is today one of the heavyweights of luxury catering. With 450 chefs, including 6 best workers in France, it has the largest brigade in Europe. 11 stores in France, Lenôtre is present in Germany, the Middle East, but also in China and Japan.

It was in 1957 that the Lenôtre house was born, when Gaston and Colette Lenôtre opened a pastry shop, rue d’Auteuil, in Paris. Gaston is Norman and comes from a family linked to great gastronomy, since his mother was a cook at the Rothschilds, and his father was Saucier Chef at the Grand Hôtel de Paris.

“The affair is first of all a success, explains Olivier Voarick, “If there had been a classification at the time, Gaston Lenôtre would have been unquestionably designated as the greatest pastry chef in the world, for two reasons, because he was modern and visionary.”

He reviewed all the great pastry traditions. He was the first to “de-sweeten” and put less fat, and he especially created recipes which have now become institutions of French gastronomy. And then, he will be a visionary, because in 1964, he created the catering organizer of receptions, to diversify his business.

During the 30 glorious years, Lenôtre will grow with the purchasing power of the French. He will also accompany the great French captains of industry in their receptions. The latter, like Dassault or Lagardère, will also open the doors to major international trade fairs.

In 1992, Lenôtre was bought by the Accor group. “There was a desire to develop even more at the international level and there was a need to find a partner capable of investing …” At the time, it was the marriage of gastronomic excellence and French hotel excellence.

In 2011, Lenôtre was sold to Sodexho, despite the large difference represented by Lenôtre petit fours and Sodexho canteen meals, Olivier Voarick fully assumed: “What few people know is that Sodexho is the leading restaurateur in France, there is of course collective catering, but also great prestigious restaurants such as Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower or even Bateaux Parisiens … And fortunately Sodexho had a solid backing to help Lenôtre get through the crisis … ”

Lenôtre went through the pandemic crisis in very different ways depending on its activities. Boutique activity has grown by 14% over the past 15 months, notably thanks to e-commerce activity.

On the other hand, the catering activity, reception organizer, it is a vertiginous drop of 87% of the turnover. The coming weeks promise to be full of uncertainty.

“It will be a party in our stores activities, but in our activity as reception organizer, which represents 50% of our turnover, it is panic, specifies Olivier Voarick. There have been many cancellations over the past two weeks, we no longer confirm for receptions at the start of the year. For this activity, the next few months will again become difficult … ”

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