Marcel Ravin is one of the most talented chefs of his generation. With two Michelin stars and an innovative style, he passionately directs the Blue Bay’s kitchens. There is a bit of his native Martinique, a good deal of creativity and an infinite love of taste and pleasure in his dishes. An interview with 6 questions asked on the spot, to get to know him better…
What’s your philosophy?
Marcel Ravin: I’ve always cooked for others before cooking for myself. But if I don’t take pleasure, intense pleasure, I can’t touch the hearts of my customers. I want to create emotions and make people happy. The other day, a Japanese customer chose one of my signature dishes and called me over to his table. He spoke neither French nor English. He was very moved. His friend explained to me that he felt like he had his eyes covered with each mouthful, that my cooking took him elsewhere on a journey. It was a lovely compliment! That's how I work. I want to move people. Eating is more than just an action. I don’t just cook to bring ingredients together. I design my dishes so that there’s a succession of flavors. An explosion in the mouth.
What about your guests?
M.R: I always say yes to requests from customers. People who just want a mixed salad should be served just as well as people who want a caviar dish. Their salad must be crisp and perfectly seasoned. There are no products that are better than others. I have to cater for every whim and every taste. Food intolerances, different faiths: you have to know how to adapt to them. The restaurant should be open to all. That's how I compose my menu. That's my job! We need to stop believing that we’re Superhuman, that we’re artists. We’re craftspeople. There are people who are able to write beautiful plays just by looking at what’s happening in the street. That's how I see cooking.
Is this second Michelin star a dream come true?
M.R: Deep down I’ve always wanted it, absolutely. Mostly for personal reasons: I love Monaco, I love the Resort, and I love this incredible hotel.
How did you feel when you first found out you’d got that second star?
M.R: It was very emotional. You know how much I love my island. I thought of all the young people who would love the chance to get in the door at luxury establishments, and write their own story the way I have done. I thought of my family and my son, who is all grown up now, and how I would like to pass on a passion to him. Not cooking necessarily, but one he finds on his own, like I found mine. After my children, that passion has become my purpose in life.
Did you take anything in particular away from the ceremony?
M.R: Seeing all the Michelin-starred chefs made me rethink my career. I felt a sense of pride when I realised that I was finally a part of the fine dining world, which had been a dream of mine since I was very young. Now – without wanting to blow my own trumpet – I finally feel like those other chefs’ equal.
What does this second star mean to you?
M.R: Lots of people would say it’s a blessing, but for me, it’s about consistent hard work and commitment. It feels amazing to know all that work has been rewarded! And it’s all down to our teams, and the customers who put their trust in us and come back time and time again.
Do you have any early memories about food?
M.R: I used to live self-sufficiently with my grandmother. We had a Creole garden. We ate what we produced and raised. She used to cook while I was at school. When I came home, there was always something waiting for me. I developed a taste memory with her. It's something that became such a part of me that I always promised myself that I’d have my own garden one day.
The Green attitude, according to Marcel Ravin
- The Blue Bay has its own vegetable garden, which was created by the Chef in collaboration with the start-up Terre de Monaco, founded by Jessica Sbaraglia, who creates urban organic gardens.
- A species for each season: a charter signed with Mister Good Fish helps to respect marine resources.
- As it is a protected species, bluefin tuna is not on the menu.
What do you think about the Magic of Monaco?
M.R: I was 21 years old when I arrived in Monaco for the first time. I ended up at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo and I immediately knew that I would return there. I said to myself: “See you in 10 years!” I knew that I’d work here one day. 20 years later, they called me, they brought me over in a helicopter, they had faith in me… It was like a dream. Through my cooking, I want to make a little contribution to the magic that is Monaco, because this place has given me everything. Working here was a great opportunity for me. One day, HRH Prince Albert II came for dinner and told me: “I hope that you stay with us for a long time”. I replied that I’ll stay for as long as Monaco wants me. This place was really meant for me...
What do you think about your open kitchen to the dining room?
M.R: I didn’t choose it. Ducasse, who was originally scheduled to occupy the premises, said: “Whoever comes here will either be crazy or a genius.” I’m neither. I’m determined! The open kitchen has brought me calmness, but also an opening to the work of others, the ballet that takes place in the dining room. And seeing the customers smile gives me even more desire to be creative.
Which of the senses do you think is the most important?
M.R: I really like touch. Before tasting, I touch. Before cooking, I touch. I have a lot of feelings at my fingertips. I try to instill that in my cooks. The idea that we need to be very light in our actions sometimes. Lightness is a movement that is both slow and fast. When I position a product on a plate, it's the product that guides my hand. It ends up where it wants to go. I’m totally convinced that we have a sixth sense connected to the soul. These kinds of things are not calculated. They just happen. Like love at first sight. Every day, I’m in love with what I do, in love with cooking, in love with beautiful ingredients, in love with the passing time.
Marcel Ravin’s favorites
1- Passion fruit… it blends easily into salty, sweet and bitter dishes. Its juice is a divine vinaigrette. It makes the flavors of chocolate explode in the mouth. The same is true on scallops. It’s a fruit that bears its name very well. It’s passionately interesting!
2- Green asparagus… a vegetable that goes with everything. You just need to find the right combination, the right cooking method, either grilled or just blanched. Roasted or raw... There is a taste of fresh almonds that fascinates me and really interests me.
3- Peppers… people think that peppers are all spicy, but in fact you just need to know how to work with them. I used melegueta peppers for years. Now I tend to use wild peppers. I also like the Jamaican pepper known as All Spice. I use its leaf and not its berries… it gives a flavor of mixed herbs between thyme, bay leaf and clove... It’s delicious!