He was there, among his own… but as a tourist! Like many chefs, Laurent Petit attended the Michelin Guide ceremony in early March in Strasbourg. With one big difference: he had neither a star to gain nor to lose. Since October, the 59-year-old (59) has passed on to his two co-directors Le Clos des Sens, his establishment in Annecy, which has been awarded three macaroons.
To retire? No way ! “I need a project, a challenge. I am almost sixty years old and I went to the end of the dream in Haute-Savoie where everyone laughed”, explains the king of lake and vegetable cuisine. Who has therefore decided to reconnect with its roots, the department of Haute-Marne. “Where I left at 18 to come back once a year for a kiss. »
A restaurant… but also lodges
Laurent Petit still has his mother in the small village of Bussières-lès-Belmont (about 800 inhabitants). “I have already bought a few houses around her home and the idea is to make gites with 16 beds. The work is in progress”, he explains again for what constitutes only a part of the project. Another, much larger, leads about thirty kilometers to Langres. For a restaurant of course!
The place is known in the pretty fortified city: the Villa Vauban, the former officers’ mess already occupied by an establishment of the same type. “It’s not done yet, it shouldn’t take too long, but it’s not signed”, cautiously indicates the buyer. “It is progressing, they must meet again with the current owners”, we corroborate with 20 minutes near the town hall. Who obviously has arms wide open towards such a chef… in a department that has only one small starred restaurant, in Colombey-lès-Deux-Eglises.
“I’m not going there to pretend”
“I want to express this Haut-Marne terroir and there is everything you need there”, judge Laurent Petit, citing in particular “the Emmental grand cru” or of course the Langres cheese. It is only at its first locations. “For a year, I will do sourcing. I have already spotted a fisherman on the Saône who works very well. The beginning of a process which, he hopes, should lead to an opening “at Christmas”.
The address, whose name is not yet known, will soon be provided with resources. “I’m not going there to pretend. We will structure very strongly from the start with between 15 and 20 people. It won’t be a race for the stars, but I would like to have the Bib gourmand (a quality meal on a limited budget) and I dream of the green star (eco-responsible gastronomy)”, proclaims the chef, while being aware, too. , the relative limits of a rural department (170,000 inhabitants) and not very dynamic economically. “My big concern is the clientele… Especially since I’m leaving a territory where as soon as you invest, there’s a response. »
This may be less the case in Langres but nothing to slow it down. “Be careful, I will continue to live in Annecy, it is only three and a half hours away, and I will not go to hold the tail of the frying pan. My goal is to find a team and pass it on,” concludes Laurent Petit. “I feel like I have a debt to Haute-Marne. »