Kitchen manual(s): 10 years in the service of the kitchen

Launched for the first time in 2012, on the initiative of the chef, Thierry Marx and Véronique Carrion, the Cuisines mode d’emploi(s) training courses train hundreds of people free of charge in the food trades every year. Apprentices who sometimes had lost all confidence in society.

Looks like a laborious hive. Amidst the noise of saucepans, around fifteen little chef’s hats are doing their job under huge brushed metal hoods. The teacher-chef distributes the orders: who for starters, who for desserts. In another corner of the building, the muscular arms knead the bread dough, put the baguettes in the oven, take off huge slabs of glossy croissants. On the other side of the door, the training restaurant La Salamandre with white tablecloths awaits the barge: freshly dressed waiters and waitresses set the table. They are trained in sommellerie. On the roof, wriggle in the fresh air of Paris with vegetable plants, aromatic herbs, salads that will soon reach the expert hands of the students. We are in the Parisian training center of Cuisine mode d’emploi(s), set up in 2012 by starred chef Thierry Marx. Here, unlike Parisian schools of the culinary arts, which cost a fortune (count 10,000 euros for a cooking CAP at Ferrandi), everything is free, fast and therefore accessible to all. It is the first stone of a colossal training building which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

It all starts with an American tale: that of the self-made man Thierry Marx, the head of molecular gastronomy (a discipline halfway between cooking and physics-chemistry). Thierry Marx is a child of Ménilmontant, son of Polish Jewish emigrants, who dreamed of being a baker but for whom professional life did not reserve the best of receptions. While his parents moved to a city of Champigny-sur-Marne (94) as a teenager, he was unable, because of his poor school results, to join a hotel school. Anger earned him a few complicated years, as he confided to a colleague from the Figaro : “I had rage… I had a reputation as a boss, a tough guy, a long period of wandering vegetating in nature, with a total lack of a plan. I screwed up, got into a fight. I ran away, I escaped to Paris… Champigny-sur-Marne, the city where I lived, was a ghost town, a wasteland”. However, he enters the Compagnons du Devoir and passes a pastry, chocolate and ice cream CAP. After having served in the army, he was a security guard, money carrier, handler and finally found his way back to the kitchen by becoming a clerk in a restaurant, then another, before ending up with Joël Robuchon, where he became a protege. The great chef has therefore known the hardship, the real one, and this is the reason why he intends to reach out to all those who life has taken away from self-confidence and work.

From Ménilmontant… to the whole of France

With Véronique Carrion, general manager of the school, he therefore decided to create a unique training system. The little hats come from Pôle Emploi or the prison system, they are in conversion from events, finance, National Education. For eight weeks, up to 35 hours a week, this little world learns to wrap roasts, cook tuna in tataki, make perfect ravioli. A three-week internship tops it all off. “87% of trainees go out with the CQP [équivalent du CAP créé par la branche restauration, NDLR] and 92% of them find a job within three months of graduating,” Véronique Carrion proudly explains.

Initially, the school started at 114, rue de Ménilmontant in a former school kitchen provided by the town hall of 20e. For its first promotion, the kitchen training only had ten trainees… but word of mouth worked well and, very quickly, the premises became too small. After 4 months of work, the Parisian school invests in a former printing works of 900 m2 located in the Saint-Blaise district. Three training courses are now offered, the CQP kitchen, the CQP service in catering, sommelier option, and also the professional bakery certificate.

Since 2014, in response to requests from different regions of France, new branches in Besançon, Villeneuve-Loubet, Marseille and Grigny (district of La Grande Borne). And in 2017 and 2018, four new schools opened in Clichy-sous-Bois, Dijon, Champigny-sur-Marne and Toulouse. In 2020, a school opens in Marcq-en-Barœul. The structure also offered traveling training which toured France, going from Montpellier to Les Sables-d’Olonne via Rennes, Fécamp and Villeneuve-la-Garenne, among others. A way to train even more students in all corners of France, from the fields to the cities. Partnerships have even been established with other structures, such as the retirement homes of the Colisée group (which manages around forty EHPADs in Île-de-France) to train the catering teams of the EHPADs on site and register several employees each year. from Colosseum to the Cooking instruction manual course (s) in order to obtain a CQP. The departments are putting their hands in their pockets in what corresponds perfectly to a policy of social and solidarity economy.

Thus, the city of Grigny has made available its old central kitchen, which had not been used for 10 years. The State disbursed €250,000 in city policy credits to help set up the school and pay for the renovations of the central kitchen. The Grand-Paris-Sud community also contributed €80,000, while private partners contributed €150,000. Virtuous recycling: in 30 months of operation, the school has trained 116 interns in cooking and 68 in seafood products.

New enthusiasts, everywhere in Île-de-France

Just look at the LinkedIn page of former students of Cuisine mode d’emploi(s) schools to see: the trainees are proud. This is the case of Doriane Dostert, in her thirties and already chef of her own restaurant, who went through the bakery ovens of Thierry Marx to feel ready. The young woman had dropped out of high school in second and found odd jobs in catering… A taste of too little for this very talented person, who chose school for practical reasons: “I was 20 years old, I wanted to learn new things and feeling legitimate. I could not pass my CAP because no recent report cards, and no money or rights to training”.

Once graduated, the young woman was recruited to the prestigious room service of the Mandarin Oriental: “Cooking is very military and practicing in these prestigious brigades gave me all the tools to work with passion, respecting the products “. With her partner, Doriane has just opened a restaurant in street food club – the Sando Club – in the Bastille district of Paris. A beautiful place already listed in the renowned culinary guide foodthanks to its inventive menu: “We make sandwiches with special Japanese sandwich bread that we prepare ourselves… not at all gluten free “.

“We are celebrating 10 years of training and 10 years of the first establishments and the results could not be more positive”, explains Véronique Carrion, the co-founder of Cuisine mode d’emploi(s). “With nine schools in operation, including four establishments in the Ile-de-France region (Paris, Clichy, Grigny, Champigny-sur-Marne), we are very present in the Ile-de-France region: of the 4,000 students trained, 2,000 have been in Ile-de- -France. More than ever, we cherish our contracts with Pôle Emploi, the local missions, the PLIE (local plans for integration and employment), the SPIP (prison service for integration and probation), the OFII (French office for immigration and integration): our kitchens welcome statutory refugees, Syrians, Iraqis and now Ukrainians”. The very dynamic boss is proud of the latest addition to her Ile-de-France enclaves: “We opened a professional restaurant in Boulogne-Billancourt. Unlike the application restaurants which belong to the training centers and are only open two days a week, this is a company restaurant open seven days a week with a different scenario: the people who work at the within the establishment are employees and not students. We provide lunch service, with some exceptions, with restaurant cuisine that has nothing to do with the collective kitchen: everything is fresh and cooked on site”.

Projects are multiplying for Cuisine mode d’emploi(s) and Véronique Carrion is not afraid to knock on many doors to obtain sponsorship and create new possibilities: “At the Clichy school, we are going to open a new training on the theme of nomadic cooking, aimed at people who wish to create their own food truck or work in events. This is a diploma which does not yet exist but which we are going to open up thanks to private sponsorship: an American foundation got wind of this project and, under the aegis of the Belgian foundation of King Baudouin, it finances our first training courses in nomadic cuisine. It is a training course in cooking but also in customer relations and management support”. The future, Véronique Carrion imagines it with always more antennas and always more new teachings: “The territories are in demand. When they approach us, we see if there is really a need, if we are not competing with a CFA for example, and we go for it. Three projects will come out of the ground in 2023, Pau, Meaux and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines where we will install our kitchens in a market garden farm of the XVIe century, we will work in partnership with a market gardening integration company”. Another great synergy from which many future young chefs in the Ile-de-France region will benefit.

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