May 22, 2022

The Covid invites itself for the 30th anniversary of the Festins de Bourgogne, a company based in Chemilly-sur-Yonne

This is the story of a beautiful entrepreneurial and family saga that began in 1992. Didier Chapuis was then a cook by trade. Trained at Taillevent, he went through other prestigious Parisian houses and even became technical director at Flo Prestige. That year, however, he decided to set up on his own and created, with his wife Évelyne, the Festins de Bourgogne company in Chemilly-sur-Yonne. Three decades later, he is still at the head of the company… which has grown significantly: Festins de Bourgogne now has three sites, 200 employees and continues to perpetuate exceptional culinary know-how, appreciated by customers.

The company celebrates its 30th anniversary

“Here in Chemilly-sur-Yonne, we offer a catering shop and an external catering activity. We also supply restaurants and ensure the delivery of meal trays for catering concepts. We are also developing a sauces and bases activity of sauces”, summarizes Didier Chapuis. Two stores complete these activities, located in Marsannay-la-Côte (Côte-d’Or) and Daumesnil (Paris 12), created in 2001 and 2005 respectively.

Festins de Bourgogne is preparing to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of its parent site in May. “We will surely do something between us,” projects the manager. However, the profession is not celebrating at the moment, undermined by the context of the health crisis linked to Covid-19.

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“All the conviviality has stopped. We are at the heart of all that is festive and unfortunately, the festive is not at its best.”

Didier Chapuis, founder and patron of Festins de Bourgogne (empty)

“The drop in activity is less violent than in 2020”

For two years, it is true that the catering part of the company of the Chapuis spouses has experienced a serious setback. “Usually, we do company receptions, weddings, birthdays, retirements… All that was suspended during the first confinement”, recalls the boss.

The situation is now a little less critical: “The drop in activity is less violent than in 2020. The new wave of Covid is also arriving in winter, at a time when the pace is not necessarily the strongest for us. .” The firm even claims a good month of December 2021: “We worked well during the Christmas holidays.” Which is not really the case with his fellow caterers in Yonne…
The manager of Festins de Bourgogne now wants to capitalize “on the resumption of football with AJ Auxerre” to relaunch his catering services (he provides the buffet at the club’s home matches). And of course on “the new wedding season” which should resume in May, he hopes.

We are completely dependent on the virus and the decisions taken as a result by the government.

Fortunately for the founder of the place, “the catering part represents only 15% of our total activity. What we lose on one side, we make up for on the other. We are really lucky to be multi- trades”.

Production of trays for trains suspended

However, its salvation will not come – at least in the immediate future – from the “railway” services offered by the gastronomic company. The Icaun site devotes a third of its activity to the production of meal trays intended for first-class users of Thalys, Eurostar and Lyria trains (via the Plaisir des Mets brand located in Appoigny). “This normally represents between 5,000 and 10,000 meals a day.”

These deliveries are currently suspended due to the latest government measures in force, but the manager nevertheless hopes “a resumption for February, even if there are still uncertainties”. This would allow it to compensate for the loss of turnover recorded on the catering part for a few months.

A fall in turnover “by 50 to 60%” at Festins de Bourgogne

In the meantime, certainty is therefore rather to be sought on the side of sales in catering stores. “They turn almost normally”, assures Didier Chapuis. Because if the trained cook repeats at will that “all conviviality has stopped” in these times of pandemic, the fact remains that “customers continue to eat three times a day”. The fact of organizing family events or between friends directly at home also contributes to this maintenance of activity in shops, according to him.

“Customers are just dormant”

This success, the brand cultivates it by maximizing on “local and exotic flavors, between tradition and modernity”, in order to attract a varied audience.

In thirty years, we have succeeded in uniting good pastry chefs and cooks. It is the quality of people that makes the quality of products.

The evolution of recipes too. “We have two people in research and development to do this.” 174 recipes were thus created in 2021 and limited or thematic edition menus established for the start of 2022. Expertise and quality now recognized by gourmets.

“What is reassuring is that we have not lost any customers during this period. They are just dormant.” But beware of waking up… “A return to normal” is indeed anticipated by the professional by spring. Also, it is already recruiting staff accordingly.

“Stay active” while waiting for the return to normal

Nearly forty people were hired in the fall of 2021 by Festins de Bourgogne. While Didier Chapuis is taking advantage of this calmer month of January to play on his teams’ recovery days and “offer training” to them in order to “stay active” in view of this deadline.

The whole profession seems to be waiting firmly for this resumption of activity to get its head above water. In any case, “people are in demand”, agrees Didier Chapuis, author of a fine professional career. And not a little proud to see his son Matthieu follow in his footsteps. “He joined us six years ago and is now at the head of Plaisir des Mets in Appoigny.” The beautiful family saga continues to be written…

200 employees are spread over the three Festins de Bourgogne sites (including 150 in Chemilly-sur-Yonne and Appoigny). 66.381 covers were served in 2021 by the company.
174 new recipes were designed last year. 50 weddings per year are covered on average.
15 This is the share of the company’s catering service on its overall activity.

Arnaud Charrier
[email protected]