Being open

Alice Cheng
Founder and CEO of Culinary Agents, New York City, USA

Patrice Marnat
Owner of Les Diamantaires, Paris, France

Wanted, found

Paris at just past noon on a typical Thursday: Patrice Marnat’s Les Diamantaires is bustling. The comfortable restaurant in the 9th arrondissement is especially popular with lunchtime customers. Not only exploring tourists, but also office workers from the neighbourhood like to come here to fortify themselves on feuilletés au fromage, Armenian-style ravioli and tarte Tatin.

The perfect location in the heart of the metropolis on the Seine, a history reaching back to 1929, the creative cuisine of French and Middle Eastern inspiration – all of this contributes to the success of Les Diamantaires. But the most important reason guests keep coming back to the Rue La Fayette is the restaurant’s team. It’s the soul of the enterprise. Patrice Marnat employs a staff of 14 in his establishment, which, the proprietor and qualified chef stresses, “couldn’t exist without them and their dedication.” As Marnat says, “the restaurant competition in Paris is unbelievably tough – a professional structure and the perfect personnel line-up are crucial to survival.” Under such conditions, the search for expert staff can pose an existential challenge.

“I’ve already posted job offers on Culinary Agents – and received decidedly good responses. One especially positive thing I’ve noticed is that all the interested candidates were very competent.”

This is where the online job network Culinary Agents comes in, with pragmatic and reliable help. In the spring of 2015, METRO GROUP launched a cooperative venture as shareholding partner alongside the American start-up, which specialises in professional networking and job placement for skilled personnel in the hospitality industry. Culinary Agents began operations in France and Italy in autumn 2015. Patrice Marnat is enthusiastic about the new service: “I’ve already posted job offers on the platform – and received decidedly good responses. One especially positive thing I’ve noticed is that all the interested candidates were very competent and a good match to my postings.” Thanks to Culinary Agents, the restaurateur was able to quickly fill two positions with qualified employees. And that makes not only the boss happy, but also the guests of Les Diamantaires.

The perfect team: Patrice Marnat is responsible for managing Les Diamantaires, while his son Anthony (middle) conjures up the restaurant’s culinary creations.

Special agent on a mission

New York today, L. A. tomorrow, Paris the day after: Alice Cheng is constantly on the go. When it comes to establishing contacts, networking and conversing with existing and potential customers on-site, the founder of the start-up Culinary Agents takes matters into her own hands.

Ms Cheng, in the USA, some 4,500 companies are already using your job networking website. Since October 2015, Culinary Agents has additionally been active in cooperation with METRO GROUP in France and Italy. That’s a remarkable leap for a start-up …

… Yes, absolutely! When we presented our concept to Olaf Koch and his team, we were all excited: both sides very quickly came to a clear vision of how our service could support the customers of METRO Cash & Carry and how we could bring together our respective areas of expertise to collaborate in new markets. It was the ideal basis for a successful partnership!

What makes the French and Italian markets so attractive for Culinary Agents?

France and Italy have always had a tremendous influence on gastronomic culture and culinary trends worldwide. They are ideal countries in which to launch this European expansion. At the same time, our users from France and Italy enrich our network enormously because many of our American customers are looking for jobs internationally and have a great interest in coming to Europe to further their development. Our portal provides them with perfectly suited career offerings and mentoring programmes.

An American start-up and a major German corporation – how does that work out in practice?

Brilliantly! Both companies are fully focused on creating real added value for customers. We complement each other perfectly in this: as a start-up, we want reliable investors who enable us to establish and expand our concepts. We benefit from METRO GROUP’s excellent market knowledge and close customer relationships. In turn, we bring a proven digital solution, new ideas and well-developed concepts to the partnership – and we’ve got plenty more to offer!

The Culinary Agents team is always working on many projects at once – at the whiteboard, Alice Cheng stays on top of it all.

The food service experts

Alice Cheng

Her proven digital expertise and thorough understanding of the food service industry are what set Alice Cheng, founder and CEO of the online job network Culinary Agents, apart. Cheng, who was born in New York, initially worked on her start-up outside of a full-time job, developing it after work and at the weekends. She has now been solely focusing on her own company since 2012. Building and maintaining customer relations is just one task that Cheng tackles with enthusiasm. When on city trips, she visits up to nine customers a day.

Patrice Marnat

Patrice Marnat has a special relationship with METRO Cash & Carry: the trained chef and owner of Les Diamantaires himself once worked at the wholesale company for two years. In 2015, he took over at the helm of the historic restaurant in Paris’s 9th arrondissement. The restaurant’s name, Les Diamantaires, harks back to an era when diamond merchants and jewellers would meet for business at this fancy locale.