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Armand Doucet is manager from the restaurant L’Antidote, Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (Some). He agreed to look back on his career, to bring his perspective to his profession.
News: Can you describe your course to us?
Armand Doucet: I started my culinary studies in Granville, at the Maurice-Marland hotel school. I stayed there for four years. I went to the baccalaureate, which I obtained. I then went to Paris to do the Ecole Supérieure de Cuisine Française. It was a BTS, which I did alternately. It allowed me to learn more about management, service, management…
What did you do after your studies?
THAT : I made the choice to work. I was assistant at the Cité de la Mer restaurant. I held the position of executive assistant until the end of 2007. In 2008, I opened my own establishment. It is a project that was part of continuity, a logical continuation.
Have you always wanted to work in this professional sector?
THAT : Yes, since I was a teenager. I started when I was 13, helping my uncle who had a business. I gave him a hand from time to time. I even remember that as a child, I wanted to be a pastry chef. Which was not to my parents’ liking, or even my college. I had excellent grades, and many hoped that I would follow a general course, but catering is a job with the heart.
For you, what qualities do you need to do this job?
THAT : It requires having artistic qualities and knowledge of culinary techniques. Anticipation also depending on the time of year. Some are more crowded than others. When you have your own establishment, you have to be a good manager.
With all these years spent in this sector, do you find that the profession has evolved?
THAT : Technology has indeed changed the profession. We work a lot with touch pads today. There are also standards that have changed. Traceability is more important. Relationships have also changed. Reservations are now made a lot online, less by phone.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to do this job?
THAT : Lots of self-denial. Be passionate about the products and the producers. Developing the artistic dimension is also very important for the decoration and presentation of dishes. Learn to work with colors, textures. It’s meticulous work, we mustn’t forget that we have to whet our customers’ appetites.
The cook prepares and cooks meals according to a culinary production plan, food hygiene and safety rules, and the establishment’s quality charter. He works alone or in a team, under the responsibility of a chef. He may be required to determine the quantities to buy, make the market and negotiate prices. He works in traditional, gastronomic and themed restaurants, but also in company or community restaurants and food companies.
The CAP cuisine is prepared after the 3rd year, in a vocational school or in a private establishment. It is also strongly open to work-study (apprenticeship contract and professionalization contract). In continuing education, the AFPA offers a professional cook title. The CAP can be supplemented by additional mentions according to the specialties (MC dessert cook, MC catering employee, MC art of light cuisine, etc.). Continuation of studies is possible towards a BP (professional certificate).
The profession is accessible with a CAP/BEP in cooking or culinary production. Access to public service establishments is generally by competitive examination (school canteens, hospitals, etc.).
Professional experience is often a determining factor in hiring cooks. Work-study training and internships are therefore strong arguments in applications. On the other hand, the cook must accept split hours, evenings, weekends and public holidays. In the dining room, the sense of customer service is a significant plus.
Interview by Julien LUCAS
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