(Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or) Overlooking the golden rooster, the renovated inn has a bronze statue honoring the famous French chef Paul Bocuse and a “fresco of great chefs”. There is a rhythm in the kitchen. Redesigned and menu revised to suit current tastes.

The 100th Anniversary Menu (€370, or $537 per guest) was designed to commemorate the 1924 installation by Paul Bocuse’s grandparents on the Pont de Collonges near Lyon in east-central France. , an “anthology cuisine” that mixes the present and the past. Whole breast poultry cooked in pig’s bladder pairs well with recent creations such as lobster dumplings with champagne sauce.

“It wasn’t easy to pursue something new while adhering to the norms,” ​​says the pastry chef, who was hired in 2019 after the death of the founder of nouvelle cuisine, who ruled the house until his last breath. “Benoît Charbet, 41,” confesses.

Among the “must have” codes is the traditional dessert wagon. The new features are described as “a much lighter, sweeter, less fatty and more modern dessert”, “more beautiful” and “slightly less in quantity”.

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“Whenever we need to create something, we always ask ourselves, ‘What would Monsieur Paul say?’ We all work in that spirit,” says the executive director. Yes, emphasizes Vincent Le Roux, the husband of the star chef’s granddaughter. He passed away on January 20, 2018 at the age of 91.

“After Mr. Paul left, we lost our guide, our father, and we were devastated.”But, “I think he would be very proud today to see that we stuck to our guns.” ” confesses executive chef Jill Reinhardt, 49. Including the 25 year old in the house.

“This is not a revolution; it is actually an evolution in both the kitchen and the interior,” insists the man some refer to as the “Guardian of the Temple.” His credo is to stay true to what Bocuse called “cooking with bones and edges.” While offering new dishes, vegetarian and gluten-free bread variations.

“Question”

“Mr. Paul was a man of his time. That’s normal and I respect that. It was his choice. Some people said, ‘This is Monsieur Paul’s cooking,’ but… Some people may have said, “It may lack a bit of novelty.” I have doubts,” said Benoît Charvet.

In 2020, the Michelin Guide downgraded the French gastronomy flagship, stating that “the quality of the restaurant remained excellent, but it is no longer at the level of three stars.”

“Obviously, the whole team was injured,” Vincent Le Roux recalls, “but the support from our customers was overwhelming and we had record attendance in the restaurant’s history.” Since then, sales of the house have continued to increase, reaching €11 million ($16 million) in 2023.

At the same time, the disappearance of “Monsieur Paul” marked a turning point in the team’s quality of life, including the closure of two days a week, the shift to no more than 8 hours a day, and the reduction of the number of seats from 100. . The number of kitchen staff has also increased to 80 people.

Chef Olivier Couvent, 46, said the changes had been “unimaginable” during the big boss’s lifetime. “This is an institution and we dared to do it,” he says, beginning a “different era” in which he sought “challenge, rigor, intensity” as he was unable to make a career as a paratrooper. he said before he remembered. .

“If we don’t understand that the world has changed, this profession is at risk,” believes a man who claims to have a “French heritage projected into the future.” His great pride is that his dumplings are a reference on the menu.

Damien Fournier, a 23-year-old Parisian, chose this dish. this ” data scientist » I took a “detour” through the Pont de Collonges with a Japanese friend who was passing by and experienced my first Michelin star. For him, Bocuse, “synonymous with great French gastronomy,” is the first name that comes to mind at “the moment of choice.”

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