With a shared love for hospitality and a deep appreciation of diverse cultures, Julie and Matthias Cattelin have carved out a veritable niche for themselves in the global hospitality industry. Circumnavigating multiple countries – from France, the UK, to Japan and the USA – this dynamic duo illustrates a rich tapestry of adaptability and exceptional service that break the boundaries of different cultural contexts.
Julie, the charismatic service maestro, lends an impressive history in marking her expertise across various Michelin-starred restaurants. Meanwhile, Matthias, the uninhibited sommelier, has shown equal brilliance in showcasing wine expertise. Both have ascended from being commis to leadership roles in these Michelin-starred restaurants, demonstrating their sheer dedication and aptitude engrained in their careers.
Living their heritage with the world and transmitting their knowledge to hospitality professionals, Julie and Matthias represent the embodiment of international exposure and cultural adaptability.
Join us as we delve into the world of the Cattelin’s – a journey punctuated by Michelin stars, cultural intersections and most importantly, an unrivalled passion for hospitality.
Embracing the travel and relocation aspect of work
Julie and Matthias Cattelin are not just hospitality professionals; they are also globetrotters with a shared passion for discovery. Following their studies, they jet-setted off to different countries, gaining valuable experiences and expanding their knowledge through international exposure. Their journey brought them together at Gravetye Manor in England, an encounter that sparked a shared desire to work and travel simultaneously.
The couple reflects, “We both traveled to the UK to improve our English…We quickly realized that we share a desire to work and travel simultaneously. Working abroad for us means discovering new cultures and learning alongside other professionals in the hospitality industry.”
This pursuit has led them to work in various Michelin-starred restaurants – notably spanning France, the UK, Japan to the USA – serving not only as a testament to their adaptability but also contributing to their growth as hospitality professionals. For Matthias, who trained as a sommelier, international travel also meant invaluable opportunities to visit wine regions and local wineries, a key aspect in further informing his craft.
In each country, they make a concerted effort to immerse themselves in the local cuisine, dining at a variety of restaurants. This practice serves dual purposes: sampling the local culinary offerings and observing how the hospitality industry operates in each context. “It’s fascinating to see what’s happening outside of France, to compare how the hospitality industry operates in different regions, and to evaluate their skills in comparison to ours,” they shared.
Between Matthias’s work in the wine cellars and Julie’s mastery at the front of house, the couple’s international journey has not been merely about clocking experience; it’s been about embracing diversity, cultivating adaptability, and finding joy in discovery and learning. Their tale speaks of the perfect blend between pleasure and hard work, underlining their commitment to deliver exceptional service across diverse cultural contexts. Seemingly, for Julie and Matthias, the thrill of the journey is equally as important as the destination.
Sparking the journey to international opportunities
In a moment that would significantly shape their future, both Julie and Matthias made the notable decision to venture beyond the comforts of home, spurred on by an inextricable connection to hospitality and an undying spirit of exploration. The resonating question at every job interview Julie attended following her seasonal job fresh out of school was haunting: “Do you speak English? It’s crucial in our restaurant.” She knew she needed to breach this language barrier if she was to propel her career to new heights. “I decided to challenge myself and move to the UK to improve my English. England wasn’t far – less than two hours away. Of course, being away from family and familiar surroundings was challenging, but the excitement of this new chapter in my career was invigorating,” Julie explains.
Upon her start at Gravetye Manor in November 2016, the intensity of the experience in a foreign setting was immediately palpable. Though the first couple of months were strenuous, she soon found pleasure in it – developing connections with her colleagues, indulging in the culture, and above all, witnessing the stark differences between the UK and France. The move would prove to be a remarkable turning point in her career.
Simultaneously, Matthias found himself fresh out of graduation, striving to perfect his English and dreaming of landing a coveted position at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Fate took an exciting turn when a commis sommelier position opened at The Chester Grosvenor in Northern UK, and eager for fresh experiences and challenges, he seized it. Though the initial plan was to stay for a few months, the rewarding experience led him to extend his tenure to two enriching years. Like Julie, Matthias too, found the move abroad a key stepping stone in his journey.
These decisions undoubtedly sparked the beginning of the duo’s journey to international opportunities, illuminating their career paths and culminating in a shared experience marked by international exposure, cultural adaptability, and success in the art of hospitality.
Insights from working in restaurants across countries
In their globe-trotting careers, Julie and Matthias Cattelin have absorbed a wealth of culinary traditions and dining customs that have enriched their outlook and refined their skills in the hospitality industry. Reflecting on their diverse work experiences, they shared, “It’s fascinating to see how food culture varies from country to country.”
In the UK, they observed how locals often favored substantial breakfasts and the ceremonial afternoon tea over lunch. As opposed to France, where a quick espresso shot and a croissant remain the go-to morning fuel, the British prefer a leisurely breakfast. This difference significantly impacts staffing patterns too; unlike French eateries that pause in the afternoon, UK restaurants commonly operate in nonstop shifts prompted by the afternoon tea service.
The Cattelins’ tenure in Japan offered a unique perspective on the nation’s extraordinary commitment to their craft and workplaces’ rigid hierarchical culture. They admired the meticulous precision required in Japanese cuisine, particularly while carving and flaming dishes. The couple likened it to their experiences in France’s finest food establishments.
Their time spent in the United States, particularly in California, highlighted another contrast in the global food culture milieu. Whether it was in a prestigious three-Michelin-star setting or a relaxed brasserie, the Cattelins found the expectations to be distinct. They were particularly inspired by the Californian mindset – its positive attitude, natural interactions with guests, and the front-of-house staff’s overall exuberance – all contributing to memorable dining experiences day in and day out.
This plethora of international experience has cultivated Julie and Matthias’ adaptability and their skill to deliver exemplary service across a myriad of cultural contexts, further demonstrating the significance of their global exposure in fostering cultural adaptability.
Cultural adaptability is a fundamental skill set in the international hospitality industry, as attested by Julie and Matthias Cattelin. With their extensive experiences at globally recognized establishments, they have honed their cultural adaptability and communication skills, leading to exceptional guest interactions and service.
Julie and Matthias noted a distinctive aspect of their work experiences: “Every restaurant, in every location across the globe, definitely has a unique approach to guest service.” They observe that as native French individuals, their international interactions have been facilitated by their cultural identity, stating, “As French people, we find it 90% easier to connect with guests when we’re outside of France. The moment we start speaking, they immediately recognize that we’re from a different country. This often sparks curiosity and prompts interesting conversations.”
Their international experiences have provided insights into distinct cultural contexts – from the inquisitive guests in San Francisco to the appreciative and welcoming attitude of the English. Julie and Matthias fully embrace these diverse cultural dynamics, adapting their communication style according to the specific environment. However, they also understand the importance of maintaining authenticity in their interactions, “The objective is to avoid canned, rehearsed speeches and instead, have natural and authentic dialogues with the guests.”
In both personal and professional interactions, Julie and Matthias carry the heart of hospitality in their approach – comfort and welcome. The ability to adapt while maintaining authentic connections is key in the international hospitality sector, and it is a skill that they have both mastered. Their approach to staff interactions and guest communication reflects their understanding of cultural dynamics.
Admiring different services across countries
Julie and Matthias Cattelin have crafted their careers in hospitality through invaluable experiences spread far and wide across different countries. Drawing on these international sojourns, they admit, “Traveling and working in various countries has given us an interesting perspective on service standards worldwide. France has a strong reputation for its service, and wherever we went, we strived to impart some of our techniques, as well as learn from others to improve our skills.”
Their experiences in the US sparked surprising insights into how service structures uniquely vary across cultural contexts. Here, Julie and Matthias encountered an unusual staff-to-table ratio in three-Michelin-star restaurants; generally, there was one Captain per only four tables. This staffing surplus starkly contrasted with what they were accustomed to in France, where a single Captain typically managed eight to ten tables. According to Matthias, “the level of attention to detail is often higher in the US because there are more staff members tending to fewer tables.”
While the dedication to service remained constant, the duo also noticed a striking difference in guest engagement between the two countries. “In France, due to the larger ratio of tables to Captains, staff members often have less time to communicate and interact with guests compared to their counterparts in the US,” observes Julie. American establishments’ unique staffing structure allowed for a more personal connection with guests, as fewer tables per staff enabled them to initiate engaging, meaningful conversations actively.
Further distinguishing itself, Japan’s service displayed an intriguing blend of two cultures. As Matthias recalls his time at La Tour D’Argent in Tokyo, a French restaurant, the unique Japanese traits shone through. He recounts his experience, saying, “The mix between French and Japanese food was surprising, and the guests were so enthusiastic and proud to try the mix between these two cultures.”
Their journeys across the globe have enabled them to appreciate the unique aspects and adapt their service skills to grace any dining room floor, reflecting their love for learning, their commitment to excellence, and their ability to adapt adeptly to cultural differences.
A journey of growth
Julie Cattelin and Matthias Cattelin both traversed paths of extensive international exposure and cultural adaptability that showcased an evolutionary journey in their respective in-depth knowledge fields of hospitality.
This comprehensive array of cultural exchanges and professional experiences has given them an enriched understanding of the global hospitality landscape. “We undertook all these adventures and work experiences abroad to gain invaluable knowledge,” shared Julie. Moreover, this international exposure not only gave them a broader perspective but allowed them to fine-tune their skills and develop a unique approach toward their profession.
At La Tour D’Argent in Tokyo, a Michelin-starred restaurant known for its distinctly French culinary influences in a Japanese setting, Julie was the first woman to join the front-of-house team. Meanwhile, Matthias significantly expanded his wine expertise by interacting with producers and vintages unseen in France. These experiences embodied the successful blending of distinct cultural nuances, offering a fresh understanding and respect toward the similarities and differences in service traditions.
Their positions at the Gravetye Manor in the United Kingdom taught them significant leadership skills. Julie led the training of the front-of-house team, while Matthias was responsible for educating the entire staff about wine, a testament to their growth as leaders alongside their professional evolution. Their tenure at the 1 Michelin star La Maison dans le Parc in Nancy, France, allowed both to be crucial factors in the establishment’s receipt of a Michelin star, reflecting their capabilities in management, training, and restaurant operations.
“After more than 10 years in the hospitality business, we have definitely refined and improved our skills,” stated Matthias. Indeed, their international journeys have significantly contributed toward enhancing their skills.
Navigating new processes in different hospitality settings
Adaptation is a cornerstone of professional life. For hospitality veterans like Julie and Matthias Cattelin, every new location brought fresh challenges illuminating the universal need for adaptability within their industry. As they traversed from one country to another, immersing themselves in diverse hospitality settings, they embraced new cultures, menus, and practices with an unwavering resolve to excel.
Despite their profound experience and well-honed skill sets, they approached each new role with humility and a willingness to start from scratch. Julie recounts their journey to England, “Even though we brought a wealth of skills with us, I had to begin there as a food runner.” This humble start did not deter them, but fueled their resolve to absorb and learn.
The learning was not limited to work processes and languages; it extended to the core of their service – the food and wine. As a French Captain skilled in cheese, Julie had to learn about English cheeses, reflecting the global diversity of the culinary landscape. Matthias, with his extensive training in French wines, equipped himself with new wine-related qualifications, bridging the gap between his knowledge and the world of international wines.
Their stint in San Francisco underlined the structural differences that exist even within the same industry across different continents. From differing hierarchies to alternate job roles, the US’s system was unlike anything they had encountered before. Yet, it was another obstacle they adeptly navigated, armed with their profound adaptability.
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust another layer of complexity into their professional lives. “We had to alter our approach to work and be mindful of the guest contact,” recalls Matthias. Despite the struggles, it was yet another learning curve they swiftly adapted to, demonstrating that true professionalism lies in the balance of learning, adapting, and excelling, regardless of the setting.
Sharing relevant information and perspectives
In the face of the global crisis brought about by the pandemic, renowned service professionals, Julie and Matthias Cattelin, proved their resilience and adaptability. “When the pandemic began, we stayed at home for a few months, then returned to work for a seasonal job in Corsica for six months. It wasn’t our dream job, but it served as a temporary solution until we found something more suitable,” shares Matthias.
In May 2021, Julie and Matthias’s formidable expertise took them to Nancy to assist their friends Roxane and Charles Coulombeau, who had just purchased a restaurant. Roxane, pregnant at the time, needed help overseeing the team, and so the pair stepped in. Matthias assumed the role of head sommelier, while Julie took the reins of service and front-of-house operations.
Leveraging their global perspective and rich industry experience, they contributed significantly to the growth and development of the restaurant, propelling it to earn a Michelin star and a Michelin service prize within eight months of opening. This prestigious award is given to only two restaurants each year, attesting to their exceptional service and leadership.
“Two enjoyable years were spent there. It felt good to be back in France for a while. We were close to Alsace, Champagne, and Burgundy, so we had plenty of opportunities to visit vineyards,” says Julie. In the midst of their professional successes, the couple also found personal joy, as they were able to tie the knot during this period.
This narrative of adapting to changing circumstances, seizing opportunities, and achieving recognition underpins the professional journey of Julie and Matthias Cattelin. Their story unfolds an inspiring testament of perseverance marked by hard work, international exposure, and cultural adaptability. Their commitment to delivering exceptional service while continuously learning and growing in their field serves as a shining example for hospitality professionals globally.