Chef Franck Giovannini about the love of his job
BY SABINE KÄRGER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q2 2019)
The Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville de Crissier – a traditional house for more than 50 years that treats its guests with exquisite culinary delights and is known far beyond Swiss borders. Frédy Girardet, Philippe Rochat, Benoît Violier and last but not least Franck Giovannini have made it a culinary must for all gourmets and have put their strong passion for cooking at the service of haute cuisine over the years.
The joint history of Franck Giovannini and the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville began in 1995, then under the name “Girardet”. A two-year stay abroad was the only brief interruption to the cooperation – he returned to Crissier as early on as 2000 and has remained loyal to the restaurant ever since. Today, he is the chef and managing director of the renowned house. All his skills and passion are invested in the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville day after day together with his kitchen crew – which is well-known for being the largest in Switzerland. It is a magical place where culinary excellence is performed, but it has also been subject to major changes over the years. Franck Giovannini witnessed a large part of these changes, supported them and thus also co-wrote the history of the house.
A unique atmosphere, subtle decoration, a cuisine full of history and, of course, delicacies of exquisite quality and sophistication – visiting the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier is an extraordinary experience. The seasonal, creative and healthy cuisine impresses with its simplicity and purity of taste and leaves nothing to be desired. Franck Giovannini attaches particular importance to ensuring that his guests feel comfortable in the restaurant. We talked to him about his passion for cooking, the great heritage he has inherited and where he finds inspiration for his chosen dishes.
Mr. Giovannini, please tell us how you began cooking.
I started with an apprenticeship, in Switzerland, in a small restaurant, the “Auberge de la Couronne” in Apples, with chef Claude Joseph. I had the chance to work with amazing products right away.
What do you find the most exciting about your job?
Probably the transformation of products; the creation of new dishes with products that nature offers us. I’m also very excited when it comes to training the people working with me and transmitting our profession to my young chefs.
It is very gratifying for me to give pleasure to people around me.
What constitutes an outstanding restaurant, in your
The quality of every single detail; respecting the products, being generous with your customers and loving your people.
Please tell us about your career so far. How did you get to where you are today?
After my apprenticeship, I travelled abroad for a few years. I’ve been lucky enough to be present in Crissier for the past 24 years, being able to work with amazing chefs like Frédy Girardet, Philippe Rochat, and Benoît Violier. During my earlier carreer, I’ve also performed in many competitions. So far, I’ve been persevering in my work and loving what I do.
In 2016 you took on the position of “chef de cuisine” at the “Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville” in Crissier, which meant that you had some big shoes to fill. What did that mean to you, and how did you approach this challenge?
Since my beginnings in Crissier, I’ve always been involved in the organisation of this “house”, so this step has been an obvious and logical consequence. Being in my predecessors’ position is a particular and moving experience. I feel a big responsibility towards the history of this place.
You run the restaurant together with the owner, Brigitte
Violier. What makes your cooperation so successful?
Ms. Violier left the restaurant organisation in July 2018. I’m now also the general manager of the restaurant. Since last summer, we have gone through an amazing transition. The restaurant is always fully booked, and we have a lot of work to perform.
The kitchen at the “Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville” focuses above all on a seasonal, creative and healthy cuisine. Where do you find the inspiration for new dishes?
The products remain my main inspiration. We are in constant reflection in order to innovate.
This year you were once again awarded three stars by the renowned Michelin Guide. How do you manage to get such a prestigious award? And how do you maintain this high level over the years?
There is no miracle recipe for that. The only way is to always keep giving the best, taking profound care of each customer, and being thorough in every single plate.
You are married and have two children. How do you manage to balance your family and career?
Our work is very addictive. I’m lucky enough to have a spouse that understands my passion. Every moment outside work is dedicated to my wife and children.
As a chef, do you have any unfulfilled goals or dreams that you would like to see come true?
My main thing is to continue loving what I do, keeping the same spirit, always evolving.
The Swiss Franck Giovannini is head chef of the well-known starred Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier. In 2016, the restaurant received three Michelin stars under his stewardship and in 2017, the Gault-Millau gave him 19 points, singling him out as “Chef of the Year”. He is also president of the Swiss “Bocuse d’Or Academy”.
Picture credits @ La rhubarbe/l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier