Energy sobriety: how top chefs also save money in the kitchen

Faced with soaring prices of raw materials and energy costs, abundance is also over in the kitchen. Even with great chefs like Thierry Marx who sets an example.

On the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, Thierry Marx prepares a plate of braised leeks for dinner being prepared at Madame Brasserie, the restaurant he opened this summer 57 meters above Paris. At 63, the starred chef is known to the general public for his participation in television cooking shows but also for his commitments in favor of environmentally friendly cuisine, which gives pride of place to vegetables and local products from responsible agriculture.

A positioning that takes on its full meaning in these times of global warming, energy shortages and galloping inflation. “If you had come to this kitchen 20 years ago, it would be full heat, we would be waiting for the evening service, all the plates and the ovens would be on. There today you have a fresh air, the temperature of the restaurant is at 19 degrees and everything is fine. And when we need to start production, we will light as we go”he explains.

Copper-bottomed pans

Around him, the fifteen cooks out of the fifty who make up the 200-seat restaurant prepare the dishes as the first service approaches. An air vent bringing in outside air refreshes the atmosphere, the copper-bottomed saucepans made in the Vosges allow cooking that consumes little electricity to make dishes calculated as accurately as possible. Such as these fine leeks, cooked en papillote to save water.

Carbon impact and controlled costs

“A seasonal product grown less than 50 kilometers from here. We simply cooked it in its water, because a leek is 80% water, we will pass it over the flame, peel it and serve it with an olive oil vinaigrette”said the chef, sprinkling the dish with “small herb shoots from an organic garden in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, delivered by bicycle”. “It’s simple, the carbon impact and the cost are under control”, summarizes Thierry Marx. On the menu offered to French customers and foreign tourists already seated in the large glass room with a view of the Trocadéro: truffled vol-au-vents, pâté en croute, sea bass with salicornia from Brittany, cabbage puree -flowers, babas, chocolate mousse.

Less butter

The menus have been adjusted so as not to increase prices despite the soaring cost of raw materials – plus 50% for butter, for example. “We don’t have a plethora of products that would make us use a lot of delivery logistics and cold, which is extremely polluting. We make compost, we work without waste”, said the chief. To set an example in these times of shortage, the Eiffel Tower, visited each year by nearly seven million people, turns off at 11.45 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. since September 23, forcing Madame Brasserie to close ten minutes earlier, around 11:20 p.m.

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The constraints cannot discourage the profession from taking the essential “green” turn, thinks Thierry Marx, candidate for the presidency of the Union of trades and hotel industries (UMIH), the first union in the sector which has around 220,000 establishments. . “There is no longer a restaurateur or a hotelier today who does not want to make this transition”he assures us as the vote approaches on October 27.

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