Marine Beulaigue’s destiny was all mapped out: after studying at Sciences Po Bordeaux, a double Franco-German course and a Master’s degree in HR, office life opened her arms. But that was without counting on his passion for cooking. After nearly two years of career in human resources, Marine Beulaigue drops everything and decides to retrain. She swaps files and meetings for an apron and a CAP alternately. After obtaining her diploma, the young cook joined the brigade of the Parisian restaurant ANONA as a clerk. Decorated with the Green Star of the famous Michelin guide, led by chef Thibaut Spiwack, the establishment has a strong eco-responsible commitment from its menu to its furniture and its kitchen practices. Meeting with a commis promised to a great future in the kitchen.
“I have always had a passion for cooking”, immediately tells Marine Beulaigue, 26, to POSITIVR. But as a good student, she is destined for a future of major studies and important positions. “I really wanted to study everything related to business management”, she recalls. Without a specific job in mind, the student then turned to a general course, and landed at Sciences Po, in Bordeaux, then continued her studies with a master’s degree in business and organization management. “The relational and human side of the business world was very important to me”, she says. It’s decided: Marine Beulaigue is embarking on the path of HR.
But she quickly becomes disillusioned. “I was a little disappointed because the course was very administrative and not enough on the human”, says the one who still lands a job, following her internship, in a company where she works for two years as HR manager but also manager of the organization. Problem : “the passion for cooking always worked on me”explains Marine Beulaigue.
How does she end up leaving the business world for the kitchen? The principal concerned responds that it is “a combination of circumstances” : changes in the company, confinement, which allows him to “rethink [ses] priorities” and an opportunity. “I found an organization that offered to pass my CAP in work-study conversion.”
Problem: at that time, the Covid-19 pandemic was still relevant, as were the health restrictions. Most restaurants are therefore closed. The enthusiast ends up finding an establishment where she can do a first year of work-study: a company restaurant, where the quality of the products offered is not to the taste of the aspiring chef but which allows her to practice her skills, before integrate a 5-star hotel for his second year of work-study. There, the quality of the cuisine suits the apprentice better. But behind the scenes, the practices of this “large group with a lot of process and little adaptation” are not in line with the values of the young woman in terms of ecology, the fight against waste or even food waste and leftovers.
Being vegetarian, a militant and personal act
From ecology to human ties, Marine Beulaigue wishes to evolve professionally in an environment that allows her to reconcile her personal commitments with her professional practice. One day, the young woman went to the site of the Ecotable label, which rewards culinary establishments for their eco-responsible commitment. It is there that she discovers, among others, ANONA.
This restaurant in the 17th arrondissement of Paris was opened in 2019 by Thibaut Spiwack, whose popularity has continued to climb since his appearance in season 13 of the famous television show Top chef. “I liked the philosophy of the place, the menu and the place. I sent an email to the chef and he offered to come to the restaurant the next day for an interview”says Marine Beulaigue. “The chef explained to me his values, the way the restaurant was run, where the products came from, how the dishes were made. For my part, I explained to him my vision, what I would like for my job and under what conditions I would like to exercise it.
The candidate takes the opportunity to also taste the cuisine of the restaurant. “Beyond the chef’s commitment and the beauty of the place, there was something new. I was served vegan dishes that I had never seen elsewhere. There was a real work of creativity behind it.” The chef’s cuisine touches the taste buds of the future clerk, who has been a vegetarian for two years.
Being a vegetarian is a very personal militant act that involves only me and my conscience. I do what I can with my means, the others too. I’m not trying to convince them. I can explain why I am, but I don’t impose it on people. I agree to cook meat or fish and even taste it. I appreciate that here, at ANONA, we have real alternatives for people who don’t want to eat meat.
Marine Beulaigue, clerk at ANONA
More eco-responsible alternatives
Just a few weeks after his arrival in the brigade, the restaurant presents its new recruit on Instagram: “Marine pays great attention to eco-responsibility. She doesn’t hesitate to challenge the team to go even further in the restaurant’s approach and we love it!”can we read on the publication, posted last June.
“I felt a great intelligence in Marine, she is exactly the kind of person I like to discuss with and I found that she really had her place in the brigade”, says Thibaut Spiwack, 36, to POSITIVR. The chef adds that he wants to give as many chances to “a guy who has 20 years in the house than a Marine who has two years of experience on the go”. His commitments, his vegetarianism and his observations on the practices carried out in the kitchen interest Thibaut Spiwack. Because for him, it is imperative to surround himself “of people like Marine who pushes us to go further”especially when you are confronted with old reflexes and habits in your daily life.
We each have a vision of ecology. I created the restaurant with solid foundations but guaranteeing that the rest can be improved, in particular through discussions with others.
Thibaut Spiwack, head of ANONA
It is for example thanks to its new recruit that the restaurant now has a more eco-responsible solution to piping bags, these “plastic bags in which we pour a preparation for a more precise presentation”explains Marine Beulaigue. “In conventional kitchens, we use a lot of them because they are disposable.” Talking to the boss, a solution is found: “we bought some kind of gun”, “a big bazooka”, specifies the chef, “which is washed between each use and which reproduces this piping bag effect well”.
However, the chef specifies that, despite goodwill, more eco-responsible solutions are not always quickly applicable: “In the room service, we tried to keep the same cutlery throughout the meal, not to change the glasses of wine but the customers did not want it. Despite our Ecotable label and our Green Star in the Michelin guide, people are not ready to do without certain things”analyzes the one who encourages other chefs to innovate in their establishments. “The more of us there are, the more we will be able to challenge others and inspire colleagues”he believes. “My goal is not for ANONA to be a one-of-a-kind restaurant. We have a real role to play: people go to the restaurant every day, we have to do passive educational work on the subject of ecology in the dining room and in the kitchen.”
A point of view shared by the clerk who deplores the lack of publicity given to the Green Star in the Michelin guide. “A great distinction that still deserves to be better known”, according to her. Especially in a world where you can say you’re engaged while serving avocado toast: “these products that come from afar and whose ecological impact is not negligible”emphasizes the apprentice chef.
We are really at a turning point, restaurateurs have a real card to play. Not just to please people, but so that we can continue to eat everything, we will have to be careful and in particular train the teams in these issues. There are committed chefs, but few employees. It is important that these commitments are valued and not just for publicity.
Marine Beulaigue, clerk at ANONA
Marine Beulaigue embodies this new generation of future chefs (and chefs!) committed to ecology. His journey shows us that it is possible to find a place to reconcile his passion and his values for people and the environment.