Meeting with Bernard
Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
“My name is Bernard GAY, and I’m the chef at the Mistral Gourmand restaurant as well as the manager of the Au Gay Séjour Hotel.
I earned my CAP professional certificate in cooking in 1971 (best apprentice in Haute-Savoie), in a work-study program alternating between working in the kitchen at the four-star Albigny in Annecy and taking classes at the Savoie-Léman International Hospitality and Hotel Management High School in Thonon-les-Bains. I spent a short stint at the Sofitel Hotel in Lyon, and then a winter at the Palace du Mont d’Arbois in Megeve before my required military service where I served as a cook for the commander of the Clémenceau aircraft carrier in 1973-74. Afterwards, I returned home to help my grandmother in the kitchen, and I never left!
I received master’s degree (master chef) in 1987, a four-year program where I met my wife Marie Claude (she earned a master’s degree in hairstyling).”
Have you always wanted to work as a chef? What do you like about the profession?
“Since I was a kid I wanted to be a chef, that’s how much I liked my grandmother’s delicious, family-style cooking. I like to constantly create something new, something fleeting, using seasonal products for our guests to enjoy.
I’m a people person and for a dozen or so years I spent time working as a culinary consultant at professional trade shows like Equip’hôtel in Paris for Bourgeois, and at the Sirha show in Lyon for Ambassade de Bourgogne to perform demonstrations for attendees.”
Le Gay Séjour: a family affair
Could you tell us a little bit about the history of Le Gay Séjour?
“My paternal grandmother founded the restaurant in 1947. She settled down in Le Tertenoz, the hamlet across the way from Seythenex, after getting married. She cooked with my mom, Judith Boirard, at the La Belle Etoile Café in Les Combes de Seythenex, and both went from farm to farm to cook for family gatherings (weddings, baptisms, etc.).
At the same time, my parents and grandparents ran a farm, grew vegetables, raised chickens, made cheese, and even made bread at the village’s communal oven. The first boarders (in 1948) stayed with local villagers and then would eat at our house. Later, my parents got rid of the cows and built the first few rooms. It took several transformations and renovations (the last few with Marie Claude in 2005/2006) for the Le Gay Séjour to become what it is today!”
That’s what you call a family affair!
“Exactly! A quick anecdote, I cooked at the 50th wedding anniversary for a couple whose wedding in Marlens my grandmother cooked for.”
On to the kitchen!
As a chef, does typical day look like for you?
“A trip to the market as early as possible to have a lot of products to choose from, and then I start getting everything ready: preparing the sauces, garnishes, fish, meats, and desserts for lunch, which starts at around 12:30.
Next, all hands are on deck for two hours to serve our lunch guests. Then we clean up, put everything away, and I take advantage of the downtime until 18:00 to place orders, do some paperwork, take care of the garden…
Then we start preparing for dinner, which starts at 19:30 and goes until around 23:00. After that, we clean up, put everything away, and then repeat the next day.
To sum up, could you tell us what your specialty is, your signature meal?
“Wild European cisco fish from Lake Annecy with sorrel grown in my garden: a dish made with only local products and using my great-grandmother’s recipe.”
Is your mouth starting to water?
Then head to Bernard’s charming restaurant to taste his refined, family-inspired cuisine.
Hôtel Au Gay Séjour – Restaurant Mistral Gourmand
58 route du Tertenoz
Réservations : 04 50 44 52 52