In his book, published ten years ago, he said that “despite the obstacles, hope remains possible for everyone who has dreams”. Ruthless worker from a “very humble” family, Marcel Ravin, past From one stone to another (title of his book) between his native Martinique and Monaco, has just created 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 blends the Caribbean with the Mediterranean.
So this Wednesday, the day after the announcement of the winners, Marcel Ravin expresses his “proud”. To make the cuisine and terroir of the island of his youth travel with real recognition, but also “to affirm that everything is possible through hard work”. “I was lucky enough to have parents who always taught us this value in addition to many other equally essential values,” he explains. 20 minutes†
“The smells of cocoa paste and coffee”
However, his future as a star chef was not quite mapped out. “When I wanted to cook, my father wasn’t there for it. It was considered women’s work,” says the man born in 1970 who “essentially grew up in contact with” [sa] Grandmother”. But the latter’s bark and calouf, like “the scents 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 the age of 17, with a CAP in his pocket, he left for metropolitan France and Alsace, where he won a place at the Château d’Isenbourg. A great leap into the unknown. “I had never seen asparagus or foie gras before. One day the chef asked me to get artichokes from the cold store. I was stuck. I didn’t know what it looked like and didn’t want to say it. I was yelled at,” recalls Marcel Ravin.
Not discouraged, on the contrary, he redoubled his efforts. “I watched 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 had no money. I had to work immediately. 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. There he made the decisive encounter for the rest of his career. We ask Monaco “for a project that has started from scratch”. The Monte-Carlo Bay, an impressive resort with 312 rooms and 22 suites that was built in 2005. It builds up the complex’s seven restaurants, including the Blue Bay. The “creative cuisine that takes 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, the adopted Monegask explains again. In fact, it was mainly the customers who gradually pushed me towards Creole cuisine, a mixture of cuisine, of crossing. Marcel Ravin, who made headlines last fall after being accidentally expelled from a “Dinner of the great chefs” with Emmanuel Macron, then had his teams travel to Martinique to rub them with his roots by participating participate in charity receptions.
“I feel like I’ve created a movement”
“Turmeric, sweet potato, it was quite innovative for Monaco and France at the time,” he recalls. And the magic happens. Crunchy tapioca with Muge tartare, veal cheek with tamarind, Mediterranean laced with citrus flame… In his dishes Marcel Ravin tells “his story and his happy childhood spent in Martinique, with a nod to the dishes simmered by his grandmother, which he brilliantly reinterprets , using fine products from the South,” says the red guide who awarded him a first star in 2015, and the second this year.
“Today I feel like I’ve created a movement. There are more and more West Indians who take pride in incorporating their local produce into their restaurant. I am a lucky and experienced chef to be part of the elite”, the chef laughs, almost incredulously. He repeats: “Everything is possible with hard work and I hope that the young people of Martinique or elsewhere are aware of this”.