In his book, released ten years ago, he already said that, “despite the obstacles, hopes remain possible for all those who have dreams”. Relentless worker from a “very modest” family, Marcel Ravin, past From one rock to another (title of his book) between his native Martinique and Monaco, has just made a new one. Particularly tasty. The chef has won a second star in the 2022 Michelin Guide for the Blue Bay, the restaurant in the Principality where he mixes the Caribbean with the Mediterranean.
So this Wednesday, the day after the announcement of the winners, Marcel Ravin says his “pride”. To make the cuisine and terroir of the island of his childhood travel with real recognition, but also “to confirm that everything is possible through hard work”. “I was lucky to have had parents who always instilled in us this value among many other equally essential values,” he explains to 20 minutes.
“The smells of cocoa paste and coffee”
His future as a starred chef, however, was not all mapped out. “When I wanted to cook, my father was not for it. It was considered a woman’s job”, says the man who was born in 1970 and who “grew up essentially in contact with [sa] Grandmother “. But the blaff and the calouff of the latter, like “the smells of cocoa paste and coffee” that her family sowed and harvested in Creole gardens, were stronger than anything. He began an apprenticeship in Fort-de-France “where we worked on French cuisine”, “Creole cuisine, it was only done at home”.
And at 17, with a CAP in his pocket, he took off for metropolitan France and Alsace where he won a place at the Château d’Isenbourg. A big leap into the unknown. “I had never seen asparagus or foie gras. One day, the chef asked me to go get some artichokes from the cold room. I got stuck. I didn’t know what it looked like and didn’t want to say. I got yelled at, ”recalls Marcel Ravin.
Not discouraged, on the contrary he redoubled his efforts. “I surveyed the markets early in the morning. I have learned. I wrote everything down in notebooks,” he says. He undertakes to pass a Bac pro and a Bac hotel trade. Failed plans. ” I did not have money. I had to work right away. He left for Nancy, returned to Martinique for a year and returned to France. In Lyon. He begins to distill overseas flavors into his dishes.
“It was the customers who pushed me to go for Creole cuisine”
Then he arrives in Belgium. It was there that he made the decisive encounter for the rest of his career. We ask Monaco “for a project that started from scratch”. The Monte-Carlo Bay, an imposing resort with 312 rooms and 22 suites which came out of the ground in 2005. It is setting up the complex’s seven restaurants, including the Blue Bay. The “creative cuisine that transports us to the West Indies” praised today by the Michelin Guide, was built there little by little.
“I didn’t want to impose my identity and first I had to know more about the local terroir,” explains the adopted Monegasque. In fact, it was above all the customers who gradually pushed me towards Creole cuisine, a mixture of cuisine, of interbreeding. ” Marcel Ravin, who had already made the headlines last fall after being ejected by mistake from a “Dinner of the great chefs” with Emmanuel Macron, then made his teams travel to Martinique to rub them with its roots by participating in charity receptions.
“I kind of feel like I’ve created a movement”
“Turmeric, sweet potato, at the time, it was quite innovative for Monaco and France,” he recalls. And the magic happens. Crunchy tapioca with Muge tartare, veal cheek with tamarind, Mediterranean gored with citrus flame… In his dishes, Marcel Ravin “tells us his story and his happy youth spent in Martinique, with nods to the dishes simmered by his grandmother, which he brilliantly reinterprets, drawing on fine products from the South”, says the red guide which awarded him a first star in 2015, before the second this year.
“Today I kind of feel like I’ve created a movement. There are more and more West Indians who are proud to work their local products in their restaurant. I am a happy and accomplished cook to be among the elite,” smiles the chef, almost a little incredulous. He repeats: “Everything is possible through hard work and I hope that the young people of Martinique or elsewhere are well aware of this”.