Thierry Marx, the chef étoilé with a rags-to-riches story who in 2012 founded a network of free cooking schools — 10 so far — to boost the disadvantaged into employment and a sense of purpose, met with AAPA members on November 8. The venue was the eastern Paris headquarters of his Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s), not far from the bohemian Menilmonant district where Marx grew up. In a free-flowing exchange, the affable 64-year-old discussed the nuts and bolts of the project, shared anecdotes about his extraordinary rise from working-class neer-do-well to the summit of French cuisine and waxed philosophical on a range of subjects including how obtaining a black belt in judo and immersing himself in Zen meditation allowed him to sublimate the negativity one might expect from the exclusion he experienced in his youth.
Marx received his first Michelin star in 1988. Today, his Sur Mesure restaurant at the Paris Mandarin Oriental boasts two stars. This year, he opened the Onor restaurant near the Tuilerie Gardens, giving his pupils a prestigious showcase for their skills, with one-fifth of the staff coming from his schools. “In French society we always talk about merit,” he remarked. “A lot of people told me they didn’t have the kind of luck I did. And so I said to myself I absolutely have to do something for ‘my people

Home page: Photo credit: Mathilde de l’Ecotais

Second page: Photo credit: Gina Doggett