The young 31-year-old chef, Adrien Soro, is forced to close his restaurant in Paulin in the Dordogne. After being hit by Covid-19, the restaurateur cannot cope with inflation and rising energy prices.
Victim of the increase in energy prices, the young star chef Adrien Soro gives up. He has an appointment on Wednesday at the Bergerac commercial court for the judicial liquidation of his restaurant in Périgord, La Meynardie in Paulin-en-Dordogne. His 7 employees on permanent contracts lose their jobs, as do the 15 fixed-term contracts he hires each season.
“I’m the example of something that has gone wrong,” laments the 31-year-old chef at RMC on Tuesday. “I want to testify so that if a talented person arrives tomorrow in the Dordogne, he will not have his head cut off in the same way”, warns Adrien Soro. “In my eyes, it’s a series of bad decisions that put us in a position where we were no longer credible,” explains the chef.
A meteoric rise before an equally rapid decline
After training with Joël Robuchon, Adrien Soro opened La Meynardie in March 2019. Less than a year later, in February 2020, he obtained a Michelin star, then a green star, which rewards chefs who supply in short supply with local products. All the numbers are so green: its customer base is increasing, it goes from 3,500 customers in 2019 to almost 6,000 last year, its revenue too, the margins are good, the average ticket per coverage even reaches 119 euros.
But his establishment is closed during the Covid-19 crisis. At the reopening, faced with the labor shortage, he struggled to increase his staff despite his good will. And the help is not enough: “We get 70,000 euros in total when we have lost 250,000”, laments Adrien Soro. As a result, on December 18, he serves his last customer.
An electricity bill multiplied by 6
Because, as an accident never comes alone, inflation hits the chef hard: “All my prices have increased: sugar has tripled, I’m not even talking about butter. Everything that forms the basis of French cuisine, it’s starting to become impossible to buy, ” he explains before the final blow is delivered by the energy.
“The crushing blow is the last electricity bill. We have been fighting to save the company for a year, the banks’ trust is broken and the bills are exploding: when I opened I paid 800 euros for gas per quarter today. I am on more than 2,300 . For electricity, I have gone from 1,000 euros quarterly to 6,000 euros. It is impossible to hold on today, “regrets the chef who does not want it not to the banks.
“Of course there are tensions, but the banks have the pressure and the knife under my throat. I don’t hold a grudge against my banker for a second. He is aware of the situation, he is worried. He is overwhelmed by files. like mine”, assures the star chef.
“I lived in a truck for 7 years to buy my restaurant, that’s all I had in mind”
“I don’t even know if an installation for 10 years is enough today,” says Adrien Soro. “People who live in the Dordogne have had at least one star for 15 years and have been around for 50-60 years. But they are also really stressed and for them too it is a matter of time,” warns the starred chef.
Today, the future is bleak for him: “I don’t have many options open to me. I haven’t put aside a single euro. I even lived in a truck for 7 years to buy my restaurant, I only had that as a goal , and then I wanted to take advantage of it”, explains the chef.
Restaurants suffocated by price increases are also facing labor shortages. There would be a shortage of 200,000 workers, according to Thierry Marx, the president of Umih, the trade and industry union in the hotel and restaurant industry, the largest union in the sector. “It’s a real crisis”, says the chef at France Inter himself.