Could the Paris 2024 Olympic Games help advance the French hotel industry in its quest to improve current environmental and social challenges? Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx offered his thoughts and solutions during Equiphotel.
The 2024 Olympics in Paris are not just about world-class athletic performances; they are also set to transform the culinary and hospitality landscape in the city. With a strong emphasis on the role of food and French cuisine as a cultural cornerstone, the event aims to enhance the dining experience for athletes and spectators alike. Beyond the culinary aspects, these Olympics present an opportunity to address various challenges, including those in the hospitality industry.
At Equiphotel in November of last year, we heard professionals such as Michel-starred chef Thierry Marx discuss current problems in the hospitality industry and offer suggestions. In certain cases, solutions have already been implemented.
Energy Conversion, Social Housing, and Education
The issues of energy conversion, social housing, and education hit different aspects of the hospitality sector. While larger chains can battle the energy crisis with ease, the larger portion of the industry comprises small and medium businesses that struggle to find affordable solutions against rising energy prices. These businesses rely on local social housing options where they can lodge employees during peak seasons but with companies like Airbnb saturating the real estate sector, over-consuming housing solutions, it’s becoming nearly impossible. In addition to these two major challenges, fewer people are interested in joining the industry as it requires long hours and difficult physical work. What can be done?
The hospitality industry faces significant cost pressures due to rising energy costs. Actors need to find affordable and innovative ways to reduce energy consumption without diverting capital investments earmarked for facility improvements while focusing on initiatives like LED lighting and combined heat and power (CHP) for efficiency gains. While there’s potential for hotels to combine battery storage with onsite generation and explore demand-side response, the immediate focus should be on doubling energy efficiency efforts to achieve significant financial and carbon savings at minimal cost.
Thierry Marx, President of the Union of Hotel and Restaurant Trades, is raising concerns about the recurring issue of a lack of accommodations for seasonal workers, impacting the ability of hotels and restaurants to recruit staff and potentially putting some establishments at risk due to limited services and terrace access. Marx is urging the government to address this housing challenge by exploring renovation, utilizing available dormitory housing, and constructing social housing, all while emphasizing the need for accelerated and improved professional training to adapt to the changing work landscape and move away from a sacrificial work culture.
On the educational side, Chef Thierry Marx and elected official Frédérique Calandra launched their eighth free culinary school, aiming to help the restaurant industry recruit individuals who face employment challenges. Last year, they opened a new school in Toulouse, offering an 11-week culinary training program. Their “Cuisine mode d’emploi(s)” schools have a track record of helping 90% of participants find employment and focus on empowering those distanced from traditional education or the job market. In addition, he’s recently launched a digital CV platform in collaboration with France’s unemployment center to help candidates with and without experience find work while offering them follow-up education so employees can strengthen their skills.
Food Vision for Paris 2024 with Thierry Marx
Chef Thierry Marx has already begun many initiatives, including improving the food offered by the TGV train restaurateur. In June 2022, the members of the Union of Hotel Trades and Industries elected the chef to head the association in support of his quest to defend their professional sector which, they’ve agreed, is in a crisis. As we approach the long-awaited year dedicated to the Paris 2024 Olympics, it’s the perfect time to discuss what the chef has in store regarding his food vision for the event.
Paris 2024 is cooking up a sustainable storm as it readies to serve 13 million meals and snacks, all with the distinctive touch of renowned Chef Thierry Marx. At the heart of Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games lies a commitment to halve the event’s carbon footprint, and Chef Marx, along with an array of exceptional culinary talent, is spearheading the drive to offer a culinary experience like no other. With a culinary vision that prioritizes quality, taste, and culinary integrity, Paris 2024 has consulted extensively with key players in the French food industry over 18 months to ensure its approach is not just about reducing the carbon footprint but elevating the standards of sustainable dining in sporting and cultural events.
This approach not only paves the way for responsible and environmentally conscious food, but also highlights that what’s good for the body and the planet can also be a delicious experience, offering more plant-based options, local and seasonal ingredients, and a responsible approach across the entire culinary process. Chef Marx believes that Paris 2024’s culinary vision is not just a set of guidelines; it’s an array of opportunities for us all to embrace.