Arnaud Faye is the two-Michelin-star chef at La Chèvre d’Or in Èze, southeastern France. The establishment, perched on a promontory, is blessed with an idyllic setting and a culinary commander, just named a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, who leads his staff with gentle strength.
He stands straight and tall with a rather regal bearing, an aura emphasized by his new blue-white-and-red collar signaling his recent admission into the elite family of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Arnaud Faye is imposing, but does not impose. Not, in any case, by force, screaming, or pounding his fist on the table. “Early in my career, I was a bit inflexible,” he admits. “So I took a step back and thought: Out of all the bosses you had, who made the deepest impression on you? Those who got upset all the time or those who stayed calm?” The answer lies in the question. Born in Clermont-Ferrand in 1978, Faye worked at many institutions before taking on his first position as chef at L’Auberge du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly: Patrick Henriroux’s La Pyramide, Antoine Westermann’s Le Buerehiesel, L’Arnsbourg with Jean-Georges Klein, Patrick Bertron’s Le Relais Bernard Loiseau (now La Côte d’Or), the Ritz Paris with Michel Roth, and Thierry Marx’s Mandarin Oriental. He won’t say who falls into which category, but one thing is certain – Faye is now a chef who likes nothing more than a soundless service. “It saves a tremendous amount of energy, it’s extraordinary,” he insists, “because it means we can focus on other things.” In the kitchens, at the slightest outburst, he doesn’t raise his voice or add to the tension – a look, a hand gesture is all that’s needed to soothe the troops. “When you get worked up, you’re showing a lack of self-confidence,” he adds. “But other than causing fear, I don’t see what good it does.” His respect for his staff goes both ways. “You should be close,” he explains in conclusion, “but you have to maintain a healthy distance, too.”