Grandmother, father, son, little brother… At the Marcons, cooking is a family affair. Jacques Marcon, third generation of restaurateurs in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, was designated Gault&Millau d'Or 2024 for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region during the Gault&Millau Tour on February 5, 2024. He now supports his brother Paul who is participating in this week at the Bocuse d'Or European selections in Trondheim, Norway.

Who are you ?

I am Jacques Marcon, cook for over 20 years. After my grandmother and my father, I am the 3rd generation of cook in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid.

Where do you practice?

In the family restaurant, the Marcon Restaurant, at the top of the village of Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, which has been classified 3 stars since 2005. I work with my father and my little brother, Paul who joined us last year, and who is preparing this year the Bocuse d’or.

Why cooking?

Cooking wasn't necessarily obvious to me. It was more the spirit of an innkeeper that appealed to me in this profession: welcoming customers, doing the garden, serving... But cooking is the culmination of all that. What I like today in this profession is precisely this diversity and the link with the producers.

You are the 3e generation of cooks among the Marcons, what characterizes you? What is your paw?

Compared to my father and Paul, I have more ties with the producers and pickers who work nearby. I try to create a cuisine that is outside of fashion, more evolving with the seasons, with plants and wild harvests.

And what is the Bocuse d’or?

It's a family story. It's a competition that my father, Régis Marcon, won 30 years ago, in January 95. A global competition created by Paul Bocuse at the time, where countries from all over the world compete: Norwegians, Americans, Argentinians... And it has grown so much that there are now national and continental selections before the world competition which always happens at Sirha of Lyon.

My brother Paul has just won a top 5 at the Bocuse d’or Europe on March 19 and 20. We were with him at Trondheim in Norway for this European selection. He had to arrive in the first 10 to be able to participate in the World competition on January 26 and 27, 2025 in Lyon, it's done !

How do we prepare for such a competition?

Paul Marcon - Bocuse d'or

Above all, we prepare well surrounded by people. It is necessary creating, its necessary to create a team around Paul to achieve performance. On the day of the competition, there is the clerk who works with my brother, Camille Pigot (*), the coach who is in front but who does not have the right to act, just to speak and give the timing. Then around the team you have logisticians, cooks, you have the France team which works on the creative side… In all, there are around fifteen people around Paul.

(*) Zoom on Camille Pigot, her kitchen assistant

She worked for 3 years with us, she was able to climb the ladder and showed her abilities in terms of resistance to stress, and the dynamism she can bring. The clerk must be under 22 years old on the day of the competition. She will be 21 and a half, so everything is good! They really make a great duo... And for the record, they will be in Lyon for the competition in January 2025, exactly 30 years after my father when he won this competition. There really is a connection...

It's a lot of mental and technical preparation... it's a competition that lasts 5 hours where each gesture is timed. And in 5 hours, you have to do as much work as possible from raw products. So it's quite impressive to see. In total, preparation for the competition lasts 30 year and a half until reaching the last stage in Lyon.

You were recently awarded the Gault & Millau d’or, what is that?

This is a regional distinction. We don't work specifically for that, but it's always a pleasure and it highlights the transmission work which has been made with my father and I for over 20 years. The Gault & Millau Guide wanted to highlight the success, even if it is never completely successful, transfer of a family home up to 3e generation.

What does this mean to you?

This is a guarantee of success! The marker of what we try to do with my father: communicate, talk, share and develop the kitchen together, even if sometimes we don't have the same ideas.

What is the next dish from Jacques Marcon at the 3-star restaurant?

The next dish, I don't know yet, we are working on the menu... And it depends a lot on Mother Nature, but we are, for example, working on a frog dish with garden shoots, herbs…A slightly spicy dish to spice it all up. We will also work on a braised sucrine, a braised salad. In short, everything is in the head but it is not yet formatted on the plate, but the ideas will arrive gradually.

The opening of Restaurant Marcon is scheduled for 12th April this year, which still gives them time to refine the details…

Other hobbies? What do you do when you're not cooking?

Aside from cooking, I love sport! It allows you to release and manage the tensions you may have on a daily basis. I do a lot of cross-country skiing in winter, in Mézenc in particular. Then running and cycling the rest of the year. And it’s true that what I really like now that the children are starting to grow up is sharing all these moments with them.


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