How I Got Here: André Cointreau

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here: André Cointreau CEO and president of Le Cordon Bleu on the French culinary school's recently-launched London restaurant CORD

Related tags: Le cordon bleu, Chef, Culinary art, Restaurant, Fine dining

The CEO and president of Le Cordon Bleu on the French culinary school's recently-launched London restaurant CORD, its global influence, and the rewards of working in hospitality.

Why restaurants?
How else can you showcase the best of culinary arts and honour the different gastronomies in the world? Le Cordon Bleu has become over the years the most important culinary and hospitality training institution in the world. It has several restaurants and cafés around the world – Peru, Canada, Brazil, London and Paris, and they each express an homage to local cuisines with the local ingredients perfected with the great techniques of our chefs.  Le Cordon Bleu restaurants are the illustration of the quality, technicality and creativity level of what Le Cordon Bleu teaches in its institutes. It is also about keeping close to the industry and what the customers want in an ever-evolving environment. At CORD, our new restaurant located on Fleet street London we are happy to propose a fine-dining experience in a cosy but chic environment. Adjacent to the restaurant you can find a café, with delicious French patisseries and viennoiseries baked on-site daily, open for breakfast and lunch, and also a space dedicated to learning where we propose gourmet short courses, wine classes and tastings.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Being born in a family of entrepreneurs, it was always crystal clear to me that nothing was going to be handed on a platter and that you had to work for it. The most important though is to have a vision, something to push this ambition and energy towards. This is real for anything whether a project is big or small to any business venture.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
Pierre Gagnaire.

What motivates you?
My family, especially my grandkids.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My grandfather from Cognac, who built a successful empire with Remy Martin Cointreau.

Best business decision?
Creating a company that creates jobs worldwide.

What time do you wake up?
It varies, my teams work on different timeframes throughout the world so it can be quite early.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee or tea depends of the time of the day, but always with a dash of milk.

How do you let off steam?
I travel a lot so it depends. It can be a book, or a swim if a pool is nearby but when my family is around having a meal together always does the trick.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Did you mean a night on the town ? If yes, then absolutely. Life is made of opportunities and they usually don’t come when you stay on your sofa, so when I can I like to make the most of my time and go out.

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Scrambled eggs, according to my kids.

Typical Sunday?
It usually involves a little work, a nice lunch and outing with my wife.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Deep sea fishing on the Australia big bite with great friends.

Favourite holiday destination?
Family home in the country in France.

What are you currently reading?
Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behaviour and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)​ by Thomas Erikson; Islam​ by Annie Laurent, and The Importance of Being Earnest​, by Oscar Wilde.

What was your dream job growing up?
Professor of humanities.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Everything comes to customer experience and everyone in the team has a role to play. So choose a good team and you should be off to a wonderful start.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The perception that it is a lot of hardship for little in return. Hospitality in general is indeed a lot of work but it comes with so much rewards.

Bio

Born in Paris in 1958, André Cointreau graduated first from Hautes Etudes Commerciales (H.E.C.’72), l’Institut des Hautes Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po ’74), and Paris University (D.E.S./Masters in Economics). He began his career at Unilever, then at American Express Banking Corporation, before joining the Cointreau Group as sales manager in 1977. In 1984, André Cointreau was appointed President & CEO of Le Cordon Bleu. Since then, he has thrived in promoting gastronomy around the world, with the mission to deliver excellence in education.

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles

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