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Bertrand Despinoy, from Picardy working for Joël Robuchon

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Bertrand Despinoy,

from Picardy working
for Joël Robuchon

With a career spanning more than twenty years, Bertrand Despinoy from Lille is enjoying some excellent professional experience far from France. The challenge he was given, to win a ‘Grand Award’ for this three-star restaurant, convinced him to go and work in Las Vegas after eighteen months spent in Macau.

Steve Benjamin, and Claude Le Tohic, to the Restaurant Joël Robuchon,
are the embassadeurs of the French Leader.

Bertrand Despinoy is primarily traveller before being a sommelier. It was in London that he discovered the appeal of wine whilst working in restaurant service. “I quickly returned to Lille to begin a specialised sommelier course, a “mention complémentaire”, to take part in the Ruinart Trophy competition and finally ended up doing a “mention complémentaire” for bar service.” He then joined the regional UDSF, chaired by Jean-Marie Cacheux.

He went on to gain experience on the Côte d’Azur, and then tasted life in New York, before packing his suitcases again, this time to head for Macau. “It was an opportunity proposed by Mr Robuchon at his restaurant “Robuchon a galera”, part of the Hotel Casino Lisboa. For eighteen months I worked with an absolutely exceptional wine list containing 3 000 references, grouping together a collection of wines from around the world most highly rated by Robert Parker and the “Wine Spectator” magazine. A cellar that stores thousands and thousands of bottles that belong to the casino’s owner, which he allowed us to sell in the restaurant...”

In 2008, Bertrand Despinoy took up a new challenge within the Joël Robuchon group, in Las Vegas this time. “Here, I’m working in my first three-star establishment; my role is to provide new ideas and, most importantly, win the ‘Grand Award’ presented by the “Wine Spectator”. To succeed, he will undoubtedly have to add several dozen new references to a wine list that already includes a thousand wines. “This huge selection is a real strong point; so too is the very open- minded attitude towards wines of the world that prevails here, in one of the temples of French gastronomy.”

But Bertrand Despinoy still has to adapt to certain customs in this country. “Customers who make the request when they reserve a table can come to the restaurant with their own bottle of wine. But we have set a corkage fee of $100 to avoid people bringing just any kind of wine...”

Anthony Diaz joined Bertrand Despinoy.

Two restaurants and four stars

In the labyrinth of the MGM Grand (5 600 rooms and 8 000 employees), the two Joël Robuchon restaurants stand side by side and welcome customers exclusively for dinner. L’Atelier (100 covers a day, with an average bill of $145) is decorated in a contemporary style; soft lighting and a view of the kitchen managed by Steve Benjamin. This Parisian took part in setting up the first L’Atelier in Paris, in 2003, before heading for Las Vegas and winning a Michelin star in November 2007. Although he is aware of the stringent standards imposed by his boss, he also appreciates his innovative nature and the attention he gives to the slightest detail. “He leaves us some liberty with tests to create dishes. He has them accepted first by the chefs who participated in creating L’Atelier, but in the end it is Joël Robuchon who tastes and approves!”

Next door, the Restaurant Joël Robuchon is the world of Claude Le Tohic. With his MOF title (one of France’s finest artisans), his experience has enabled him to increase the number of stars in the group’s collection. Three shine above the entrance to this restaurant, whose decor, combining comfort and quality, invites customers to voyage. The impression is one of being far from the capital of gambling and outward appearances. “Here,” he explains “the key to success is to maintain a French identity for all elements of service in the restaurant and for the other services we provide. We have the feeling of being attendants of a museum which, at each service, displays its modernity and ability to adapt.”
The excellent team working here enables this restaurant to keep all its promises and leave its American customers starry-eyed.
Forty covers per service with an average bill of $450, 30% of which for wines, highlights customers’ attraction to the appeal of a fine restaurant.

Jean Bernard

Just a few metres from the slot machines is a luxurious

restaurant that gives customers the impression of entering

a Parisian three-star restaurant.