the name of the famous chef at the heart of a feud between his school and his son

What would earthly chef Paul Bocuse, nicknamed the “cook of the century”, who died four years ago, think of this? A fierce legal battle now faces his heir, Jérôme Bocuse, of his former school, the Paul Bocuse Institute, who is torn over the use of the famous surname. In 2002, the chef agreed to link his name to the school of culinary arts and hospitality in Écully (Rhône) in order to revive it. The establishment, chaired by Paul Bocuse when it was founded in 1990, had experienced significant financial difficulties before its acquisition in 1998 by Gérard Pélisson, the co-founder of the hotel giant Accor.

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Twenty-four years later, under an association, the Institute has become an impressive war machine, with 1,400 students educated on ten campuses, destined to be part of the elite of the kitchen and hotel industry. An increase in power supported by the G & G Pélisson foundation, for Gérard and his cousin Gilles, the boss of TF1. Led since 2015 by Dominique Giraudier, the former director of Groupe Flo, one of the leaders in French catering, the association now has a subsidiary dedicated to innovation and development and another dedicated to the operation of student establishments such as the Royal Lyon Mgallery hotel, the Institut Restaurant or the Saisons Restaurant, one star in the Michelin Guide.

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In fact, the school that is the pride of Lyonnais is one of the cornerstones of a project promoted by Emmanuel Macron and Laurent Wauquiez. ” Football in Clairefontaine, now gastronomy gets its training center “, the boss of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region had set fire to last February. This knowledge center for gastronomy and catering is financed for 25 million euros by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. But this dynamic is now threatened by the scale of the conflict between Jérôme Bocuse and the school. For the establishment, the heir brings the school to its knees by asking for illegal copyright and by trying to interfere with education management. This can ultimately lead to a significant increase in tuition costs.

Disputed Partnerships

On the contrary, ” Jérôme Bocuse has always been willing to waive his request for royalties if the Institute commits to honor its contractual obligations ‘, his lawyer Carine Piccio points out. The heir, who has made his career far from his father in the kitchen in the United States, regrets the drastic changes in the organization of the school that would misuse his father’s name for a project marketing. And he assures that the origin of the alienation must be sought on the side of the school, which had wanted to strengthen its rights to the surname in 2017 to support its project to expand the Château de la Roseraie, a file of 25 million euros. euros.

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Originally, the contract between Paul Bocuse, whose signature has always been based on respect for a particular idea of ​​​​the French cuisine, and the school, updated in 2009, provided for the obligation to request the permission of the head in case of use of the name with other parties. The name “Institut Paul Bocuse”, usable until 2037, would also be limited to education, hotel and catering activities. With particular attention to the risk of confusion between school activities and those of the family. But according to information from Marianne, a series of partnerships, including before the celebrity chef’s death, made his heirs shudder. For example, Jérôme Bocuse was surprised by the opening of a restaurant school during the Shanghai World Expo under the name, without being informed.Another application restaurant, Amber West in Singapore, is said to have been operated by a company not affiliated with the Institute, ITE College West. The celebrity chef’s reel then landed on the cover of a recipe book for the Fontignac brand casserole, a usage without right or title, according to the plaintiffs.

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Several other partnerships have still made things red: the marketing of derivatives, watches and lemonades, a Paul Bocuse business class operated by Air France, a contract with Tefal, a clinic in Lyon or even an association with the Elior group, a multinational collective catering. Finally, in 2021, the chef’s son discovered the depot in China two years earlier of several “Institut Paul Bocuse” brands. These partnerships are without not for profit “and intended for companies” who works with the students or who helps? “the research center,” replied Dominique Giraudier, the head of the school, in the columns of the Figaro. asked by Marianne, the Institute has not responded to our requests for clarification. But internally, according to our information, the director also refuted that actions were carried out profitably by abnormally using the name Paul Bocuse. For example, by remembering that derivatives are products made for students, or that no menu was drawn for Air France but training for in-flight service teams.

Jérôme Bocuse fired

After a mediation that failed in 2020, the conflict between Jérôme Bocuse and the Institute intensified the following year. So the first one sent a reminder to the school. This suggests that she could take legal action against the heir in case of loss of use of the Institut Paul Bocuse name.In favor of a reorganization of the association’s board in the spring of 2021, Jérôme Bocuse subsequently complained that he had been expelled from the new executive committee, a part that is the subject of another separate legal proceeding. Before therefore requesting the courts to terminate the agreements binding him to the Institute and thus prohibit him from using his surname.

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If we have to wait at least next year for the dispute to be settled by judges, there are voices in the school to be concerned about the way things are going. ” There are many legitimate fears related to the Institute’s academic decisions and current governance, especially in the area of ​​human resources regrets Stéphan Demaeght, one of the school’s teachers, who has just been fired. Against the background of the fear that the Institute is no longer the standard-bearer of a certain French elegance.

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For example, witness the 12,000 signatures on the site of a petition deploring the filming of “Tourists” on school grounds. For example, this very quirky show showed broken arms playing with food. This had aroused the indignation of chef Christophe Muller. ” A school with such a radiant name doesn’t have to be a circus scene “, had reviewed this former pillar of the Paul Bocuse restaurant in Lyon.

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