Chef Thierry Marx opened up his kitchen to CEO magazine in collaboration with Mandarin Oriental Paris, what the found was a Zen master at the centre at the peak of his powers creating art and changing lives.
Chef, philanthropist, entrepreneur, humanist, philosopher… Chef Marx epitomises what a true leader is, as he says, “someone who puts others before himself”. With two Michelin stars, 12 restaurants in France and Japan, 12 cooking schools and five bakeries to his name, Marx is a chef with ambition and drive, yet when he speaks, he does so gently, with the voice of someone who has journeyed deep within himself and found silence.
"I always say to my young collaborators, if you want to command, it’s pretty simple – leading by example is the only proof of authority,” explains Marx. “You should always be able to look your employee in the eye, and you should always be able to look your customer in the eye.”
Marx’s kitchen, is a quiet place, far removed from the brio of normal service, Marx welcomes the silence that comes from meditation. “It allows me to listen to hear, not listen to respond. It allows me to put time between my emotions and my actions. The complexity of service is the compression of time. You have two hours, barely, satisfy 50 clients,” he says.
A phenomenally successful chef, Marx is a philanthropist who runs a free culinary training course to help unemployed people find a way back to a career. “People do not ask to be carried, they ask to be able to blossom with their own projects,” says Marx.
This accomplished chef speaks of staying curious and trying to always remain a student. Staying humble when you are strong and staying strong when you are weak, is the key.
“The moment you believe you know everything, that is when you enter the cycle of old age"
“What is magic in the kitchen is the many phases; the ingredient that is provided by mother nature, the technical capacity to put this nature into practice, then it’s about creating the desire for this dish. Then there is touch of transgression, to dare a dose of curiosity and that is a basic understanding of what a chef creator needs to apply to give the desire to taste his style of cooking.
Even if people don’t like your style of cooking, you say ‘it’s mine, a thousand pardons, but it’s my signature.”
Since 2010, Thierry Marx has run the two-Michelin-starred Sur Mesure and Camélia at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris.