We had the good fortune of connecting with Pierre-Marie Leprince and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pierre-Marie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When I think about risk, I do not see fear of failure, I see the catalyst that has accompanied and pushed me in my life and career. First of all and mostly because risk in its simplest form in the chef’s world start with cooking for someone and exposing oneself to an immediate judgement. But also because life is a road that curves often and not always let you see what’s at the curve’s end.
My first life (and career) risk, I took it while in high school where as a failing student I was seeking a way out and to move in life as an independent adult, I saw the culinary world as a way to achieve that. When I look back at that risk, taken 37 years ago, I am wondering what would have happen if I hadn’t ?
But risk is not always about the unknown and the fear of losing or damaging something. It is about making decisions, trusting and following your instinct.
I am not talking about the instinct that makes you bet it all on a roulette number, but the instinct that mature, day after day, year after year in our daily life, personally and professionally tells you that this is where the potential resides and from there it is up to you to always leave room in your daily life for it to grow out to the world.
In the past 30 years, I have receive many confirmations that my instinct driving me to decide to “go ahead and take that risk” were rightful decisions. From a Chef’s aspect and looking at products and trends, I will mentioned seeing items like Acai, pomegranate, Rose wine, prickley pear, Sous Vide cuisine with a great future.
It is the same instinct that told me that I was at a turning point in my career and many “signals” received from life were telling me that it was time to take another of these risks!
Would I have know that life and history would have accompanied me through such risk taking journey with a world pandemic with COVID-19 and other events out of my control; I might have thought very differently but I am sure the outcome would have been much different,
I am grateful today as I will not be so satisfied and happy with where I am today if any of these recent events would have occurred in any other way.
Today, with my consulting agency 3Di Creative Food Concepts, I feel that I am taking risks as well but again, my instinct is accompanying me and into some real exciting things happening in the culinary world that I foresee will become the new “standard”.
For example, I have been trusted by and am very proud to represent the Welbilt brands around the world for the marine industry as well as working very closely with them on culinary innovations that will change the way we cook and serve our guests from restaurants , hotels and all.
I am as well equally excited to support the introduction and familiarization of 3D sugar printing to professional Chefs on behalf of Culinary Printworks and Brill 3D culinary studio, two very innovative American businesses.
Both technologies will become more and more present, but this is not an easy and guaranteed process.
Risk has been there all along because these visions, ideas or concepts were not always well received and often misunderstood by a few that might not be as inclined to live with such a risk ?
It has happened that risk was much more felt by myself when in contact with such few and this is what could be called the moment of truth in your own belief and instinct; This is when you have to believe in yourself and live with that risk . I call this learning !
Until one day, someone else’s belief in you allows you convert such risk into pure success.
I am proud but also comforted that ideas and concepts that I took the risk to carry around for decades landed at the right place, with the right organization and people and is now being converted in success.
Today, I am thankful to be living and working in beautiful California, enjoying it all as the result of many risks taken since that day when I was a risk taking high school drop out and I find so much comfort and fulfillment in supporting Chefs and culinary professionals, accompanying them in their risk taking, learning and success, sharing as much of my own experience with them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was born and raised in Tregastel, Brittany, a coastal town on the famous “coast of pink granit” 6th of a family of eight children. My parents were settling in after having lived more than a decade in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco). In my early teens and due to my father’s work, we went and lived for three years in Cayenne, French Guyana. The kitchen and the family table where the heart of the house and a crossroad of local ingredients and flavors brought back from these years abroad. Our house was always open and it was not rare that we would be 20 to 30 during summer months and family reunions. I very early, discovered the joy and satisfaction to bring friends and family around a table and serving food we prepared for them to enjoy and this is what pushed me to pursue a career as a cook (not to mention my lack of interest /motivation & success at school) I left Brittany to become and apprentice cook in the southwest of France, at a famous town named Les Eyzies de Tayac for its prehistorical museum. It is in this beautiful region of Perigord that I discovered cooking with duck fat, porcini mushrooms, black truffles and foie gras and discovering this cuisine and producing it in a restaurant was had a huge impact on me.
At the culinary school, that apprentices would attend one week every three weeks, I had the incredible chance to have Chef Jean Vessat who held 2 Michelin stars for 25 years as my chef instructor and was exposed to another level of French Gastronomy as I was often working with him on special events and functions for the culinary schools. Under Chef Vessat coaching and mentoring, I participated and won a culinary competition in Bordeaux for the best apprentice of Aquitaine. I moved to Paris like many young cooks would do and after a year working in a restaurant serving specialties from the Perigord, I had the opportunity to join Maxim’s de Paris at Rue Royale. Working at Maxim’s was another milestone in my career as I discovered a true brigade organization of 28 chefs with Sous Chefs and Chef de partie that have been working there for 15 to 20 years or more. During my time at Maxim’s, I have been exposed to the most incredible ingredients that exist in France and Europe, salmons were air shipped the day before from Scotland for a lunch of the famed “Club des Cents”, Roasting the entire hind of Pauillac lamb (named the Baron, both legs and saddle) carved tableside, branzinos, langoustines and scallops from my childhood region of Brittany. Hard work but so much learning as for example, there was 17 sauces made every day for service!
One day, the Executive Chef announced that there was an open position as Sous chef at the Maxim’s of Paris in Beijing. I volunteered and was chosen and this is how my professional travels started, not knowing at that time it will take around the world and where I am today. This year in China was an incredibly rich year as well but was stopped short due to the Tian an men events of 1989. Still bitter memories today… This situation opened another opportunity to work onboard the “Maxim’s des Mers” a luxury yacht with 16 suites with a bar and restaurant that were copies of the Parisian restaurant. We spent several months sailing along the French Riviera, participating in the Cannes film festival or docked in Monaco for the year end festivities! My next step would be me securing a job in St Barth, French West Indies in a gastronomy restaurant and then my first job as a hotel chef running the French gastronomy restaurant and hotel breakfast and room service. From there, I had the opportunity to move to Baltimore, USA for other reasons than my career but it resulted in me working as a chef instructor which was another important step in my career as I discovered my love from teaching and somehow, learn so much more on what I thought I knew already by having to explain in a classroom what I learned hands on in a kitchen.
I spent a few years in between Baltimore and working for a local company in Annapolis nearby, then had to return to France after a brief stint in Ireland. This is when I started to work for Disneyland Paris, being involved in the large special events of the world cup 1998 or movie launch such as Mulann and thought that this was the end of my travel and that I was now to settle in France for good. This is when the Executive Chef for parks and resorts, Francis Metais, that I considered as one of my mentors, was promoted to take charge of F&B at the newly created Disney Cruise Line in Florida and offered me to join his team as a Chef onboard. I spent four years onboard and learned so much about operating a large cruise ship and team of chefs. This is also where I met my wife which has been with me since during the many more travels to come. I left this job as I wanted to stay connected with shoreside culinary world and after an unsuccessful stint in Florida, started to work for Sandals resorts and opened my first resort, Sandals Whitehouse, now named Sandals South coast…. a true jewel! China was always in my mind and when an opportunity to open an Intercontinental hotel in Chongqing was presented to me, I decided to go for it and learn to open a large luxury hotel in a mega, busy city!
It is during a week vacation in Beijing that I received a call from Disney Cruise Line announcing me that they were to build two new ships and wanted to know if I would be interested to come back to work as corporate in charge of F&B and in preparation of the fleet expansion. The next week or so, we were on our way to Florida and I had my first experience as corporate in a large organization amongst the mega organization that Walt Disney World is within the Walt Disney company. The recession of 2008-2009 was bad news and I was part of the layoff and really thought this was the need of the American adventure as we went some through serious hardship but shortly after, we learned that we were accepted as permanent residents in the USA. Fortunately, Sandals had just purchased the former Four Seasons on Exuma island, Bahamas and needed a chef to reopen it under the Sandals brand, so after a few months preparing the opening in Jamaica, we moved to the Bahamas and opened another gorgeous resort.
As the situation in the USA improved, I started to work for Princess cruises as culinary manager and extended my experience in the corporate world and cruise industry. Then again and as part of staying connected with the shoreside culinary world, I pursue an opportunity to return to Florida for a large project consisting in creating a commissary and expanding a large catering business. This project didn’t fully materialized and gave me the opportunity to meet and work for a great man and family, Todd Nelson Sr. and the Kalahari resorts, indoor water parks and convention centers in a corporate role. I opened their third resort in Pennsylvania for them but the cold weather of Wisconsin was not something we were able to settle in and this coincided with Princess cruises offering me to return to California and take charge of the culinary for the entire fleet.
After four years at Princess cruises and after becoming US citizens, I realized that what was really keeping me engaged in my work was that it had to be connected with helping chefs and operators and that what I learned during all these years could be of a greater contribution to my life and others if I was to make it available without the corporate cap over it. As I became a French Master Chef (Maitres Cuisiniers de France) in 2018, this duty of transmission, assistance and guidance was growing to become a pillar in our philosophy. So I started to plan for reactivating the consulting business that was created with my business partner back in 2015. As Princess cruises started to work throughout a reorganization, my position as well as one of my counterpart were eliminated and I was laid off just before the COVID 19 pandemic. 3Di Creative Food Concepts is now fully operational as a LLC and engaged in multiple projects that will be part of the future of the culinary world both from an ingredients, technology and conceptual point of view
Has it been a smooth road?
At the beginning, things were very exciting and encouraging as all my contacts with various businesses and companies were underway to materialized into active engagement but the COVID 19 has placed all on a grinding halt. For some of our current clients, we have had to strategize differently and stretch timelines and milestones. However, the enormous thinking process that took place as the industry got confronted to COVID 19 and its challenges is resulting in a natural evolution in which 3Di creative food concepts has a great contribution to provide. Because we are knowledgeable in so many aspects of the food/culinary/hospitality world as well as being accessible and flexible so we can provide help, assistance, guidance and support to small businesses or larger companies. We understand that not many have funds readily available for consulting right now and have prepared ourselves so still we can be there and provide professional advice to all businesses.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with 3Di Creative Food Concepts – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
3Di Creative Food Concepts (3Di creative food group LLC) was created in 2015 by myself and a business partner who apart from being an executive Chef, pastry and bakery chef and instructor is as well an expert in technology, systems and IT as well as financials and control systems. Our core specialty is to create/imagine concepts that are connected to today’s and tomorrow ‘s demand. These concepts are linked with the operator/investor vision and built operationally sound for delivery. The plus is that our extended expertise, knowledge and network of companies, professionals and chefs allows us to accompany such project further along that just a pre-opening training and setup.
This also allows us to jump on the train while in motion and help/support/guide a business in operation for its evolution. We as well specialized in providing professional expertise to large companies on the technology side, so equipment builders, systems companies or new culinary production technology would seek our agency for various projects. Finally, we also are working with food manufacturers or producers and have been engaged with A&G Balkan gourmet to help them introduce the new Balkan charcuterie to the American consumers. We are very proud to have been able to navigate with them through these difficult times, made changes as the situation needed us to adapt and today we are ready to start the process of introducing them to various operators.
What we are most proud of as a company is that our true intention is to help/guide and assist ALL operators and investors and regardless of their size and/or financial ability. If during one hour of discussion and exchange, we can provide such result, then this is the beginning of a relationship that will last until this idea/concept/guidance brings back the result expected. My life and career has prepared me to provide very different and unique takes on any situation and along with the skills brought by my business partner and network of expert, we are able to contribute positively to any business, regardless of size and specialty.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am not spending much time in LA as I am not a “city” guy, however I love hanging for the week end at San Clemente by the pier, it reminds me of Tregastel in Brittany France where I grow up which is a famous beach spot. Malibu or Santa Barbara for some great seafood, but my favorite spot is at home, in Santa Clarita valley at the Old Town Junction restaurant and bar in Newhall where Chef Dan Otto and his team know how to welcome and treat you well or at Genuine Cigar in Valencia for a great selection of cigars and good time with friends
I also love to discover the never ending new ideas of my friend Lisa at Braidchallah who bakes these incredible flavors, bringing such a twist to the art of Challah bread making.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As I started my culinary apprentice ship right out of high school, in the beautiful village of Les Eyzies de Tayac-Sireuil in the Perigord region of France, I met with my two Chefs de Cuisine who launched me into becoming a cook, then a chef. Harry “Riri” Garrigue , Hero from the French Resistance who lived all his life in the hotel-restaurant where I learned cooking and taught me what risk really is and the value of hard work.
Chef Dominique Rougie, a former finalist of the best apprentice of France, who worked at Lenotre in Paris and showed me what finesse, speed and precision means and the importance of caring and always seeking fun in these long challenging but rewarding days in a kitchen. Riri has left us many years ago but I am still happy to call Dominique a friend and to visit them at les Eyzies when times and travel allows.