Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF)
Culinary Arts Director at Le Cordon Bleu Paris
Maître Rôtisseur Éric Briffard has been Executive Chef and Culinary Arts Director at Le Cordon Bleu Paris Institute since 2016 and Head of the Institute since 2018.
Originally from Burgundy, Chef Briffard began his cuisine training at the Relais Saint-Fiacre. He then became a “compagnon” (craftsmen’s guild apprentice) at the Concorde Lafayette Paris hotel, L’Espérance, and the Manoir de Paris.
At 28 years of age, he was appointed Chef of the Royal Park Hotel’s restaurant, Palazzo, in Tokyo, before being named Chef of Restaurant Jamin in Paris by his mentor Joël Robuchon.
Several years later, he decided to focus on his own style of cuisine and made his mark at the Michelin 1-star Château de Fère en Tardenois. Upon his return to Paris, he was put in charge of the kitchens at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée and was awarded two Michelin stars for its gastronomic restaurant, Le Régence, a feat he repeated in 2007 at Les Élysées du Vernet. In 2008, Éric began managing the kitchens of the Four Seasons Hotel George V and was awarded a further two Michelin stars for its restaurant Le Cinq.
Chef Briffard is “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” (MOF) [Ed. see below]. When asked how he became a MOF, Eric recounted, “It was in 1993. To be crowned “One of the Best Craftsmen in France” was very close to my heart. I entered a lot of competitions as a Compagnon (member of the trade guild), it was an entirely logical step to enter the MOF competition; it represents the holy grail in my profession in France. When I think about it, it was the most emotional moment of my career!
I won the final in Strasbourg at the end of 1993. When the results are announced and you hear your name called it is so emotional, it brings tears to your eyes! I joined Chef Joël Robuchon on the podium in front of all the cameras and he tapped me on the cheek while embracing me and said “not bad” (laughing), it was a real high point. We celebrated our victory at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant, L’Abbaye de Collonges, and I was awarded my medal by President François Mitterrand at the Elysée Palace. It was extremely emotional and a dream come true, recognition from my peers.
In 2016, Eric was awarded the Grand Vermeil medal from the city of Paris. He is also a Knight of both the Order of Agricultural Merit and the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2018, he was awarded a Knight in the World Order of the Culinary Academy of France medal and the “2018 Transmission of Knowledge Chef Trophy”.
Ed. This above article has been published as a result of the generous assistance received from Le Cordon Bleu Paris
Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF)
Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (colloquially shortened to “MOF”) is a craftsmen competition in France, held every four years.
The title of Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France is a unique and prestigious award in France according to category of trades in a contest among professionals. The contest is organized and recognized as a third-level degree by the French Ministry of Labour. The President of the French Republic is granted honorary membership with the title MOF honoris causa. The awarding of medals is traditionally followed by a ceremony at the Élysée Palace in the presence of the President of the French Republic.
This award for special abilities is unique in the world. Created in 1924, initially between the best workers of the era aged 23 and over, the contest was given the title of Un Des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (One of the Best Craftsmen of France). Today, by the diversity of specialities, the list of which is regularly updated, the award has also been awarded to more modern trades including in the field of high technology.
In the competition the candidate is given a certain amount of time and basic materials not only to create a masterpiece, but to do so with a goal of approaching perfection. The chosen method, the organisation, the act, the speed, the knowhow and the respect for the rules of the trade are verified by a jury just as much as is the final result.
The winning candidates retain their title for life, with the indication of the specialty, the year following the one in which they obtain the title. This prestigious title is equally recognized by professionals and the greater public in France, particularly among artisan-merchants such as pâtissiers, hairdressers, butchers, jewellers, and others whose trades are recognized, particularly those for more luxurious goods.
The competition requires months, even years of preparation; the programme of the tests is presented two years before the exam. Technical ability, innovation and respect for traditions are worked on at length to achieve the level of excellence, efficiency, speed required and perfection to pass the subject and be crowned by the jury which assigns marks on each point throughout the test.
MOF winners in the kitchen/gastronomy category naturally include legendary French chefs, for instance Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon, Roger Vergé, and Michel Roux.