In search of the wow factor

Excellence meets Franck Giovannini

His Hôtel de Ville is one of the best restaurants in the world. Yet for top chef Franck Giovannini it’s the emotional impact of his food that matters most.

From his workplace by the serving counter of his restaurant’s extensive kitchen, Franck Giovannini has oversight of the biggest restaurant team in the whole of Switzerland. It comprises more than twenty chefs and pâtissiers in traditional white chef hats, and that’s not the only superlative that makes the “Hôtel de Ville” in Crissier near Lausanne stand out from the rest.

Many connoisseurs rate the restaurant as one of the best in the world, it has top ratings of 19 points and 3 stars respectively from the two most influential food guides, and the quality expectations of the products delivered to its kitchen, where they are turned into the finest creations, are of legendary proportions. Yet when you ask the chef what he thinks is the final touch needed to achieve excellence, the overriding, decisive factor, his answer is a bit of a surprise: “I want my guests to have an emotional reaction to my food. And that matters the same to me whether they’ve been served a luxury product like langoustine, or a simple tomato-based dish.”

Giovanni isn’t happy unless he achieves what he calls the “wow effect”. He explains that the preparation method, taste and appearance are all equally important. “A dish isn’t excellent unless it meets all three of these requirements. If only two things are right, it’s not good enough,” says the likeable chef, who hails from the canton of Jura. He knows he’s achieved the wow effect if, for example, he serves a dish based primarily on peas and his customers are amazed that the vegetable can taste so good.

When he’s creating new dishes, in search anew of this wow effect that is his definition of excellence, Franck Giovannini relies on his instincts. “I usually know straight away whether or not I like something,” he says. Giovannini tells us they go in lots of different directions en route to the final goal, “and if I’m not satisfied then we change the relevant detail immediately. I can’t live with something that isn’t perfect, it bothers me too much,” he continues, describing his constant search for perfection as he imagines it.

For Franck Giovannini this quest is by no means arduous. “Excellence shouldn’t be something you work hard for. When you love what you do, it happens effortlessly, and that then evokes positive emotions from your guests. If things seem forced, you achieve the opposite,” says the top chef, summing up his formula for achieving great dishes and intense emotions.

More impressions in the video

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