French-Australian Chef To Be Honoured By The French Government
On Monday, 29 May, celebrated French-Australian chef, Jacques Reymond will be awarded the prestigious Medaille de Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite Agricole (Knight Of The Order of Agricultural Merit). Taking place at L’Hôtel Gitan in Prahran, the ceremony will be attended by French Ambassador to Australia, H.E Mr Jean-Pierre Thébault who will personally travel to Melbourne to bestow the award on behalf of the French Government.
One of France’s highest civilian honours, the Order Of Agricultural Merit is being awarded to Reymond for a number of reasons: his representation of French haute cuisine in the many countries he has worked in, his mentorship to young chefs, as well as his promotion of France and his introduction of French produce, cuisine, wine and culture to Australia.
Reymond shares, “It is a great honour for me to receive this distinction as it will stay in the spirit and the heart of all my family forever.”
Created in 1883, the Order Of Agricultural Merit rewards those who have rendered outstanding services to agriculture, either in agricultural practice or related industries, public functions, through scientific work, or in the world of gastronomy. The list includes farmers, researchers, chefs, professionals and others who benefit from agriculture. In the hospitality world, it rewards individuals who make significant contributions to the world of gastronomy.
Nicknamed ‘le poireau’ (the leek), Reymond is part of a contingent of only 22 people not living in France to receive the honour in 2023, decided by the French Minister of Agriculture and Food, Monsieur Marc Fesneau.
Beginning his career in his hometown of Cuiseaux in the Jura region of France, Reymond apprenticed at the Burford Bridge Hotel in Surrey, UK where he first met wife Kathy. The pair travelled extensively, with Reymond working in a number of high end establishments, including 3-Michelin Star L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence, and 2-Michelin Star Jacques Cagna in Paris. An offer to become Executive Chef at the Hotel Tropical in Manaus, Brazil, was too good to resist and at the tender age of 23, Reymond was put in charge of some 100 chefs.
Returning to Europe, Reymond worked at The Hotel Velazquez in Madrid before managing the family establishment, L’Hôtel du Nord in Burgundy where he was awarded a Michelin Star, before making the decision to move to Australia in 1983. His travel to Australia, was, in fact, inspired by a visit from Australian wine writing legend James Halliday, who on tasting Reymond’s cuisine entered the kitchen to tell him he was needed in down under.
Arriving in Australia some 40 years ago, Reymond is often considered the father of fine dining in Australia. He has enjoyed a long and celebrated history in the Australian hospitality landscape, running his multi award-winning eponymous restaurant in Windsor for 23 years. In that time, Reymond also created two television series, My Secret Recipes and BYO Restaurant and his own cookbook Cuisine Du Temps.
Reymond now serves as advisor and mentor to his family’s restaurants, L’Hôtel Gitan, Bistro Gitan and Frederic, as well as being food consultant for Turtle Island in Fiji, which he has done for the last 30 years.