For its 68th annual conference,
Les Grandes Tables Du Monde celebrates the arts of tableware and food service

The 68th Les Grandes Tables du Monde congress was held in Paris from 4 to 6February 2024. The association singled out four personalities for their contribution to the culinary arts, pastry, dining service and wine waiting, to bring dining experiences to life in countries around the world.

On Tuesday evening, Les Grandes Tables Du Monde unveiled its list of excellence awards for 2024. This year, four winners received recognition during a ceremony at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.

« Beyond its long history involving a group of Michelin-starred chefs, a host of prestigious restaurants and a much-admired plaque, a nod from Les Grandes Tables du Monde is the ultimate accolade in haute cuisine. The award is attributed to restaurants that move with their times, question themselves, while seeking – and often finding – just the right balance between tradition and modernity ». David Sinapian, the association’s president, explains.

Les Grandes Tables du Monde, which was celebrating its 70th anniversary, brought its members together to launch its 2024 guide. It also welcomed 17 new members for this year, from France and abroad. These 17 exceptional restaurants skilfully combine fine food, excellence and a welcoming atmosphere.

In its role as a think-tank in fine food, the association organised a round table discussion for its members at the Plaza Athénée, aiming to showcase the dining and food service professions.
Several speakers shared their views on the following question: “Should a restaurant be considered a stage?” Nicolas Brossard, associate director of the Christopher Coutanceau** restaurant, Joseph Desserprix, dining room manager at La Scène** and Anna Crupano, dining room manager at the Jean Imbert Plaza Athénée, discussed this hot topic.

Les Grandes Tables du Monde: growing international appeal

● New members

This year, 17 new restaurateurs are joining the association, including 15 from outside France, bringing the number of members to 192, across 23 different countries. Why does the association draw so many restaurateurs? Most probably its global vision of fine dining, food hospitality and strong community bonds.
When it was created in 1954, the association’s ambition was to promote a refined concept: the French art of living. Even at that time, its founders were already talking about their vision to create a global association of restaurateurs.

In 1957, the first foreign member (Marcel Kreusch from Villa Lorraine in Brussels) joined the association.
« When cooking becomes an art form, it’s always a joy to appreciate what others are doing. » – extract from a press release by the Traditions et Qualité Association, the former name of Les Grandes Tables du Monde, issued in 1988

Leaving French shores, fine food and its demanding professions have gone global, and Les Grandes Tables Du Monde is a unique and important player in promoting those art forms.

Who are the new members?


Year after year, Les Grandes Tables du Monde paints a picture of premium contemporary gastronomy through the prizes it awards and the personalities it recognises.
It singles out professionals who have strived to build their careers with devotion and consistency, hailing them as leaders in their respective professions.
Always on the move and selected for their range of admirable qualities, the four professionals nominated this year are leading lights in their field and examples to follow.

● Winners

Bernardaud Prize for the Best Restaurateur
Thomas Keller (Per Se, The French Laundry)

Mauviel 1830 Prize for Best Dining Room Manager
Esteban Valle Trujillo (Domaine de Châteauvieux)

Valrhona Award for Best Restaurant Pastry
Chef Sébastien Vauxion (Le Sarkara)

Best Sommelier Award
Nina Mann (Victor’s Fine Dining by Christian Bau)

From left to right: Michel Couvreux – representing Thomas Keller, Restaurateur of the year; Sébastien Vauxion, Pastry Chef of the Year; Esteban Valle, Hall Director of the Year; Ester Eggert – representing Nina Mann, Sommelier of the Year.

La Table Ronde

Expert personalities share their unique perspectives on an intriguing issue: “Should a restaurant be considered a stage?”
In the world of fine food, the symbiosis between exceptional cuisine and unique service creates an experience that transforms eating into a spectacle for all the senses.

● Speakers

Nicolas Brossard – Coutanceau
The associate owner of Coutanceau leads the “theatricalization of food service” course at ESSCA Angers business school
Joseph Desserprix – La Scène
Originally from Burgundy Franche-Comté, Stéphanie Le Quellec is the dining room manager at Paris restaurant “La Scène”, and she won the title of MOF “maitre d’hôtel” in January 2023.
Anna Crupano, who has been deputy director of the gourmet restaurant at the Plaza Athénée for six years (alongside Denis Courtiade).


● Theme

1. In the dining room

« It’s about offering guests a journey, an immersive experience, and that means paying attention to detail », says Nicolas Brossard.

Wherever guests go and whatever they see, they must be immersed in the atmosphere of the place.
By carefully choosing the uniforms that serving staff wear, for example. Joseph Desserprix believed there needed to be a radical change at La Scène. The wait staff swapped their black outfits for jeans and ankle boots to make the service more relaxed, and developed a new approach to their customers.

The soundscape of a restaurant is hugely important too. When Anna Crupano and Denis Courtiade started thinking about the playlist for the Plaza Athénée restaurant, they decided to call on a specialist agency. Following an interview and a sample of a few songs suggested by Anna, a tailor-made playlist was composed for the venue. The list is renewed every three months, depending on the season and the musical inspirations of the assistant director.

Nicolas Brossard explains that at Christopher Coutanceau’s restaurant, only the sound of the waves accompanies the meal, while for Joseph Desserprix, a full playlist was created with input from his team.

There are many other important details, as guests already know; lighting, interior design and decoration (furniture, tableware, dinnerware, etc.) are markers of a restaurant’s character, like pebbles dotted along the way, which will influence the guests and leave them with different memories, whether consciously or unconsciously.

2. At the theatre

“A restaurant is a theatre that puts on two shows every day”, said Michel Guérard.

While a restaurant plays the leading role in the overall dining experience, wait staff coordination and team leadership can be compared to a form of stage management.

As Anna Crupano explains, « when we have to deal with a business dinner, we step aside, we are present, but leave the guests at the table to talk among themselves. When there is a couple who have been coming to the restaurant for 15 years, and no longer speak to each other, we are also there to spark conversation, encourage them open up to each other again.»

Joseph Desserprix finishes with: « It’s about getting a feel for the guest».

Everyone who works at the restaurant, whether as a waiter, a dining room manager or a sommelier, does whatever they can to adapt the service to customer expectations.
However, as David Sinapian puts it: “Even though service is key, it is important to keep a closeness with your guests; technical competence is almost secondary. The most important thing is the human aspect; that must be the focus of everything we do.”

If the dining room is a theatre stage, each performance is unique; every time the curtain rises a new production begins. Yes, the dining room is a staged production, but the actors do not recite previously rehearsed lines, there is no script. Each restaurant has its own approach, each staff member and each guest.

« Just like in cooking, there is no right or wrong recipe, everyone tells their own story ». David Sinapian