The fate of Marine Beulaigue was plotted: after studying at Sciences Po Bordeaux, a double Franco-German course and a master’s degree in HR, office life opened its arms. But that was without counting on his passion for cooking. After nearly two years of career in human resources, Marine Beulaigue drops everything and decides to retrain. She alternates between trading files and meetings for an apron and a CAP. After graduating, the young cook joined the brigade of the Parisian restaurant ANONA as a clerk. Adorned with the Green Star of the famous Michelin Guide, led by Chef Thibaut Spiwack, the establishment has a strong ecologically responsible commitment, from the menu to the furnishings and kitchen practices. Meeting with a commis promised a great future in the kitchen.
“I have always had a passion for cooking”Marine Beulaigue, 26, immediately tells POSITIVR. But as a good student, she is destined for a future of major studies and important positions. “I really wanted to study everything that has to do with business administration”she recalls. Without a specific job in mind, the student then turned to a general course and ended up at Sciences Po, in Bordeaux, continuing her studies with a master’s degree in business and organizational management. “The relational and human side of business was very important to me”, she says. It has been decided: Marine Beulaigue is following the path of HR.
But she soon becomes disillusioned. “I was a bit disappointed because the course was very administrative and not human enough”, says the person who, after her internship, still gets a job at a company where she works for two years as an HR manager but also as a manager of the organization. Issue : “the passion for cooking has always worked on me”explains Marine Beulaigue.
How come she leaves the business world for the kitchen? The director concerned replies that it is “a confluence of circumstances” : changes in the company, incarceration, through which he can “rethink” [ses] priorities” and a chance. “I found an organization that offered to get my CAP in work-study conversion.”
Problem: At the time, the Covid-19 pandemic was still relevant, as were the health restrictions. Most restaurants are therefore closed. The enthusiast eventually finds an establishment where she can do a first year of work study: a company restaurant, where the quality of the products offered is not to the taste of the aspiring chef, but where she can practice her skills before integrating a 5- star hotel for his second grade. There, the quality of the kitchen suits the student better. But behind the scenes, the practices of this “large group with a lot of process and little adjustment” not aligned with the young woman’s values of ecology, the fight against waste or even food waste and leftovers.
Being vegetarian, a militant and personal act
From ecology to human ties, Marine Beulaigue aims to develop professionally in an environment that allows her to reconcile her personal obligations with her professional practice. One day, the young woman went to the site of the Ecotable label, which rewards culinary establishments for their environmentally responsible commitment. There she discovers, among other things, ANONA.
This restaurant in the 17th arrondissement of Paris was opened in 2019 by Thibaut Spiwack, whose popularity has continued to rise since his appearance in season 13 of the famous television show top chef. “I loved the philosophy of the place, the menu and the place. I sent an email to the chef and he offered to come to the restaurant the next day for an interview”says Marine Beulaigue. “The chef explained to me his values, the way the restaurant was run, where the products came from, how the dishes were made. For my part, I explained to him my vision, what I would like for my work and under what conditions I would like to practice it.
The candidate seizes the opportunity to also sample the restaurant’s cuisine. “Beyond the chef’s dedication and the beauty of the place, there was something new. I was served vegan dishes that I had never seen anywhere else. There was real creativity behind it.” The chef’s kitchen touches the taste buds of the future clerk, who has been a vegetarian for two years.
Being a vegetarian is a very personal militant act involving only me and my conscience. I do what I can with my resources, so do the others. I’m not trying to convince them. I can explain why I am, but I don’t impose it on people. I agree to cook and even taste meat or fish. I appreciate that here at ANONA we have real alternatives for people who don’t want to eat meat.
Marine Beulaigue, Registrar at ANONA
More eco-friendly alternatives
Just a few weeks after his arrival in the brigade, the restaurant presents its new recruit on Instagram: “Marine pays a lot of attention to eco-responsibility. She does not hesitate to challenge the team to go even further in the approach of the restaurant and we love it!”we can read about the publication, posted in June last year.
“I felt a great intelligence with Marine, she’s just the kind of person I like to talk to and I found she really had her place in the brigade”Thibaut Spiwack, 36, tells POSITIVR. The chef adds that he wants to give as many opportunities as possible to “a man who has 20 years in the house than a Marine who is two years on the road”. His commitments, his vegetarianism and his observations of the practices of the kitchen interest Thibaut Spiwack. Because it is absolutely necessary for him to surround himself “from people like Marine pushing us to go further”Especially if you are confronted with old reflexes and habits in your daily life.
We all have a vision of ecology. I created the restaurant with a solid foundation but with the guarantee that the rest can be improved, especially through conversations with others.
Thibaut Spiwack, head of ANONA
It is, for example, thanks to the new addition that the restaurant now has an environmentally responsible solution for piping bags, these “plastic bags in which we pour a preparation for a more precise presentation”explains Marine Beulaigue. “In conventional kitchens, we use a lot of them because they’re disposable.” A solution is found in conversation with the boss: “we bought some kind of gun”, “a large bazooka”, specifies the chef, “which is washed between each use and reproduces this piping bag effect well”.
However, the chef indicates that, despite goodwill, more eco-responsible solutions are not always quickly applicable: “In room service, we tried to keep the same cutlery during the meal, not to change the glasses of wine, but the customers didn’t want it. Despite our Ecotable label and our Green Star in the Michelin Guide, people cannot live without certain things”analyzes the one who encourages other chefs to innovate in their establishment. “The more of us, the more we will be able to challenge others and inspire colleagues”he believes. “My goal is not for ANONA to become a unique restaurant. We have a real role to play: people go to the restaurant every day, we have to do passive educational work on ecology in the dining room and in the kitchen.”
A view shared by the clerk who bemoans the lack of publicity for the Green Star in the Michelin Guide. “A great award that still deserves more recognition”, according to her. Especially in a world where you can say you’re engaged while serving avocado toast: “these products that come from afar and whose ecological impact is not negligible”emphasizes the apprentice chef.
We are really at a turning point, restaurateurs have a real card to play. Not only to please the people, but to be able to continue to eat everything, we will have to be careful and especially train the teams in this. There are dedicated chefs, but few employees. It is important that these commitments are valued and not just for publicity.
Marine Beulaigue, Registrar at ANONA
Marine Beulaigue embodies this new generation of future chefs (and chefs!) committed to ecology. His journey shows us that it is possible to find a place to reconcile his passion and his values for people and the environment.