Lionel Levy Case Study: Competing to be the best in the kitchen
When it comes to restaurant dining, the bar has been set unbelievably high in the last decade. From the work of Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons to the brilliance of Ferran Adrià and his multiple awards, hotel restaurants are now acquiring month long waiting lists and producing Michelin calibre chefs. None is more notable in this army of talented chefs than IHG’s very own Lionel Levy. Responsible for heading up InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu’s restaurant Alcyone, Levy has been at the forefront of bringing local, Marseille style cooking to international attention; acquiring him a Michelin Star in the process. So how did Levy begin his journey as a chef and what brought him to prominence as Executive Chef with IHG? Read on to find out more about his story.
A lifelong love for food
Levy was born and brought up in Toulouse to a Mediterranean family that placed a strong emphasis on simple, local food – an atmosphere that permeates much of the South West of France. Levy also grew up living near a Moroccan restaurant. Experiencing the sights, sounds and flavours of this vibrant restaurant ignited the young Levy’s passion for creative cooking. It is here that his desire to work in a professional kitchen was born. Following these formative experiences in his childhood home, Levy naturally wanted to follow this passion professionally. He enrolled in Toulouse’s own hospitality school where he began his formal training, harnessing his natural talent. From there Lionel completed a six month apprenticeship in Toulouse restaurant Le Pastel, run by famed chef Gérard Garrigues. It is here that he got his first taste of life in a professional kitchen and the quest for perfection that defines most great chefs.
A Parisian apprentice
A natural move for the young and ambitious chef was to relocate to the centre of all things gastronomique… Paris! Following his education and apprenticeship in Toulouse, Levy found himself in the centre of, arguably, the world’s centre of culinary excellence. His first Parisian experience was in the heart of Paris at La Verrière, under the tutelage of Chef Eric Fréchon. Here he seized the chance to learn how to run a small kitchen efficiently, preparing perfectly for the unique demands of hotel life. Moving on from La Verrière, Levy went on to work with Chef Yves Camdeborde at his restaurant at the forefront of the bistronomie movement, La Regalade. With its focus on simple, elegant bistro food Levy was able to expand on his favourite flavours and tastes that he picked up as a boy in Toulouse. His final adventure as a young chef learning the ropes in a city that famously prides itself on its cuisine, Levy got the chance to work as Sous Chef alongside the legendary Alain Ducasse in his Paris restaurant Spoon. It is here that Levy honed his taste and his appetite for perfect. This is what he would bring with him to Marseille.
The move to Marseille
It was in the late 90s when Levy’s old Head Chef and friend Gérard Garrigues contacted him about an opportunity that had become available in the beautiful Southern French city Marseille. A restaurant space had become available and there was a chance to meet with an investor who was willing to invest in a young chef who wanted to run their own restaurant. As with any great prospect, Levy jumped at the chance. Despite never having been to Marseille before in his life, as soon as he arrived he quickly fell in love with this Mediterranean corner of the country. Then, in November 1999 Levy opened his first restaurant, Une Table, au Sud (A Table in the South). Located in Marseille’s Old Port, the venue quickly became the restaurant to be seen at for those that love fresh, traditional Marseille style food with a unique, fine dining twist, courtesy of the imagination and vision of Levy himself. His vision meant he was awarded a Michelin star in 2005.
Life with InterContinental
In April 2013 the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu opened in a beautiful, 18th Century building overlooking the town’s Vieux Port. In October, six months after the hotel opened Levy joined forces with IHG and opened the hotels gourmet restaurant Alcyone. Working with the hotel, Levy also heads up the hotel’s other restaurant Les Fenêtres and the food offering in The Captain Bar. It is here, with his four Sous Chefs and Pastry Chef that Levy has truly been able to develop himself completely, create an astounding hotel dining experience and really put Marseille style cuisine on the map. _ “When I first came to Marseille, luxury was not here. I saw Marseille grow up and up and now with this hotel [InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu] it is wonderful.”
Create your own kitchen
Are you a passionate and creative chef looking for the next step in your career? Do you long to take over your own kitchen, develop world class menus and bring exceptional dining experiences to people from all over the world? Here at IHG we are always looking for unique and daring culinary talent to assume Head Chef roles at our hotels all over the world. So if you think you can bring new and exciting flavours to our restaurants, and really put IHG on the map as a place any foodie would be proud to be seen, make sure you head over to our dedicated careers site and get in touch.
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