French Cuisine and Hospitality Shine at Historic Le Vallauris
(Gerry Furth-Sides) Whether overseeing their Le Vallauris and Le St. Germain restaurants in Palm Springs, or catering a party of 50 in a landmark home straight up the mountain behind them (as they are here), the Belgian-American Bruggemans family and crews always makes it look and feel easy.
Valuable lessons that became second nature came early. Tony explains, “My parents were in the industry, my mother an incredible chef and my father in a service industry. Outside of their week-day jobs, they catered weddings, communions and other occasions on the week-ends. We were exposed at a very tender age to the meaning of doing service and ‘customer is King,.’ something we’ve maintained throughout our careers. It’s automatic that I will see to it that whoever walks through the door is happy.”
Both Paul and Tony graduated from hotel school in Belgium, Tony transferring from kitchen to front of the house by the time Jack Weiser at Frascatti in Los Angeles sponsored them to come to America. Tony and sister Christiane (Rorize), who has been with Paul for 30 years) arrived in Palm Springs to help with Le Vallauris about ten years ago.
“You have to think of restaurant hospitality,” Tony goes on,” like the travel industry, as a vocation (calling) more than a job. You work until the job is done, not by the clock. And you do the job with a smile and the best intentions so that the customer always has a great experience so that they come back. This is the first KEY to customers coming back.
“Though this idea of customer service is very European, it is a seriously refined one,” Tony goes on. “I can still remember horrific experiences in Berlin and even in France where food was thrown at me and waiters take orders as though they were doing you a favor. In the United States there can also be somewhat of a contradiction because management may believe in service but in this ‘the land of the free’ the staff may feel that catering to the client is being subservient. That leaves you with the attitude of, ‘I will give you service but don’t ask too much. What has to be understood is that even with free enterprise, in order to make money not only do you have to provide service, but you have to provide it from the heart.
“Los Angelenos live the pioneer spirit and want to try a new restaurant rather than dine at a familiar one,” he continues. But Palm Springs diners are more continental and love the familiar once they are assured of consistent cuisine and service,” which is the second key to success.
LeVallauris, 385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA, 92262, (760)325-5059. For details, menus and information, please visit: www.LeVallauris.com,