The starred chef of the Petit Royal tells what it means to be a chef in a luxury hotel
When you talk to Paolo Griffa, starred chef in Courmayeur, the first thing that strikes you is his voice, which not only has a beautiful melodious timbre, but above all conveys calm, decision and all that intellectual depth that you would not expect from a neo- thirty years old.
Yet the discussion goes on, because, despite his young age, Paolo has already collected prodigious experiences, such as that at Scabin’s Combal.Zero, or at the court of Serge Vieira in France.
Gavetta which has found fulfillment at the Grand Hotel Royal e Golf in Courmayeur and more precisely on the desks of the Petit Royal restaurant, awarded the prestigious Michelin Star since 2019.
Here Paolo proposes a cuisine that has reached its most mature phase, maniacally close to the territory and which does not skimp on twists and turns, as in the case of the “Cannellone Put-Together – Homage to Missoni”; colorful and laborious tribute to art and, more generally, to Made in Italy.
Much has been read and written about you and your path.
What is there really to know about Paolo Griffa? You have to try it. Many have only read about it, others have seen the images we publish on social media, but none of them really know what is behind it.
The images and stories of others can say a lot, but you have to live the experience at the Petit Royal. As a service, as a pamper, as everything.
Originally from Piedmont, you traveled far and wide before landing in Courmayeur in December 2017. Do you plan to stay now? For the moment, yes, definitely.
We built all the restaurants as I wanted them, a job that was really tailor-made.
To move from here it would take an extremely worthy project and for the moment I don’t see it on the horizon. Then also the fact of having become accustomed to the territory, having learned to enhance it …
I found producers and products that previously few were familiar with, if you think of the Aosta Valley, how many come to mind? Yet today we build entire menus around local ingredients and slowly we have built a network of incredible producers.
It was a long job, of constant research, which certainly it hasn’t run out yet. Historically, great restaurants were born in large hotels.
Then there was a reversal that led to the opposite scenario and today we are returning to the glories of the past, with luxury hotels that call established chefs to manage their kitchens. Is it a partnership that works? Abroad this thing is more rooted, you know that if you want to eat well you have to go to the big buildings.
In Italy, however, it is still seen as “I have to enter the hotel to eat the hotel kitchen”; in reality, the consumer does not understand that, for a whole series of systems – purchases, commissions, personnel -, in most cases the hotel offers more guarantees of constant quality over time.
It has more controls, it is bigger; it has more aspects that help it. Does being included in a scenario of this type have particular advantages or disadvantages? It has its pros and cons.
The cons is that you have to follow the seasonality of the hotel, for example we will only reopen our restaurant on December 3rd.
The pro is that it enters a structure and therefore all costs and expenses are amortized in a different way. It allows you to negotiate with suppliers on large volumes of product, therefore to have a much stronger bargaining power and, at the same time, to give the same suppliers more guarantees.
A cook lives on passion, but also on sacrifices. Is there a suggestion that you would like to give to all those young cooks, or aspiring chefs, who look to you as a model? Never stop and never think you have arrived. Always be curious, understand how we got to a certain point, what lies behind it. Never stop at the superficial aspect.