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They started out as entertainers in the music halls of Paris. Then they bought the La Cardinale estate on the banks of the Rhône River and transformed it into a first-class hotel, and finally they looked for others who cared as much about hospitality as they did. Then in 1954, Marcel and Nelly Tilloy and eight other hoteliers cofounded the Route du Bonheur, a loose network of dedicated restaurateurs in eight top-notch establishments between Paris and Nice on the French Riviera. That was the birth of Relais & Châteaux.
Today, the “Route du Bonheur” goes all around the world, and Relais & Châteaux still sees itself not so much as a hotel chain, but as an association of hotel and restaurant enthusiasts with close to 520 establishments in 60 countries, each one of them proudly independent but linked by a shared passion for and appreciation of the good things in life.
From Paris to Singapore, from Geneva to Kobe – out-of-the-ordinary gourmet dinners took place around the world in 2014 to celebrate the association’s anniversary. These included a Fairy Tale Dinner in Milan, a Schloss Sensation at the Schloss Hotel Yantarny near Kaliningrad, and a festive gala on board the Silver Wind in the port of Monte Carlo.
The highlight of the anniversary year was the Relais & Châteaux Rendezvous in Paris in November. Each year proprietors, maîtres de maison and chefs come together for an annual convention in a different city. The 2014 conference in Paris was particularly special because, for the first time ever, it was open to the public.
On the first evening, several young chefs presented their version of “Paris Avant-Garde.” The Palais de Tokyo, a magnificent classical building that opened for the World Expo on the Right Bank in 1937, was especially remodeled and decorated by event designer Jean Blaise and artist Fanny Bouyagui.
The next day, participants got together in an unusual but very fitting location: the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. There, they issued a joint manifesto for “A better world through culinary arts and hospitality” – 20 points for improving and maintaining diversity in the culinary arts and hospitality worldwide. The manifesto was intended to usher in a militant global movement in wholehearted support of good living.
The relationship between Relais & Châteaux and Lufthansa First Class goes back many years. Very often, we turn to Michelin-starred chefs from Relais & Châteaux – Claus-Peter Lumpp, Thomas Bühner and Anne-Sophie Pic, to name but a few – when we want to turn a First Class flight into an amazing culinary experience.
So it was only natural that Lufthansa First Class participated in Relais & Châteaux’ anniversary celebrations. Throughout the year, selected grand chefs from the Relais & Châteaux establishments were invited to attend the 60th anniversary festivities along with local chefs. “Star chefs host star chefs” was a gourmet festival made up of more than 100 culinary gala events around the world. A ten-percent discount was applied to all flights to the anniversary celebrations.
As a souvenir, guests were given a small but elegant cookbook entitled Culinary Delights. It contained an exquisite selection of recipes from Lufthansa First Class and Relais & Châteaux chefs – so that after the event, guests could play at being star chefs themselves.
By the way, each cookbook also contained a raffle ticket, and we were very pleased to welcome the lucky winner as a guest of honor at the final anniversary festivities, which took place in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
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