A newcomer to the NYC dining scene, Parisian Edgar Vaudeville has worked with some of the most prestigious and luxurious hotels and esteemed restaurants in the world; from Poland, England, Australia, Thailand, Canada and Malaysia to all over the U.S. — including the famed Le Bristol Hotel in Paris and the W Doha in Qatar. He has built and expanded global acclaim for his unique ability to launch and revamp an establishment’s image, to grow a fresh celebrity clientele, and to set up restaurants and hotels on rejuvenated paths to success.
As the Director of Special Events and Public Relations, Edgar has been a key player in the revamping of Le Colonial, one of New York City’s finest Upper East Side dining establishments. Since his arrival, he has breathed new life into the restaurant by adding a luxurious upstairs cocktail lounge, and hosting a variety of high-profile events — including an anniversary party for celebrity hair stylist Roy Teeluck with Gotham Magazine, a charity masquerade for The Junior Committee for the NY Center for Children, and a Grand Cru Dourthe Bordeaux wine dinner.
We sat down with Edgar over a glass of wine and cha gio — a Vietnamese specialty made up of a crispy roll filled with pork, shrimp, lettuce and crab, served with lettuce greens, fresh herbs and nuoc cham sauce by Executive Chef Wingwee Hsu. Here is what he had to say:
Kimberly Fisher: At what point in your life did you decide to be involved in the hospitality industry? What influenced you to do so?
Edgar Vaudeville: When I was 14-years-old I was cooking with my grandmother, which ignited a certain passion. I was dyslectic at school, and French programs do not recognized dyslexia. I quickly stopped the normal school program and decided go to culinary school at the young age of 16. I then did my first experience with great mentors, such as Alain Ducasse, Roger Verger, and Guy Savoy. Since then, I have always dreamed of living in New York.
KF: If you could give a word of advice to an aspiring restaurateur, what would you say?
EV: Be passionate with what you do. Don’t think in revenue, it will come by itself if you offer good service and quality food. Consistency is a key to success. Offer every one of your guest a warm welcome and a memorable experience. For me, the keys are: "The cuisine is an art;" "To make it is a job;" and "Degustation is a pleasure."
KF: What do you predict will be the next big trend in cooking and/or the restaurant industry?
EV: As we all know, trends are created in New York and after 5-10 years it goes overseas. I believe that "functional" food and drinks will become very popular in the next few years. Unfortunately, we will see less and less gastronomique restaurants, and we will have more and more fast, casual, healthy food.
KF: What places or cities in the world have influenced you the most?
EV: I will say that during my childhood the celebrity chefs I have worked with taught me the passion, hard work and consistency. I had an amazing experience in Qatar opening the first lifestyle hotel (W Doha) and opening the first bars, lounge and clubs in the country. Organizing the first fashion events to support young, local, talented designers was spectacular. Recently, my experience in openings was awarded "Best Luxury Hotel Bar Worldwide" for Le Bristol in Paris. This is the place where […] "hospitality becomes an art." Every employee is the best in what they do; their passion and knowledge are unreachable.
KF: In your opinion, what innovation has recently influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way?
EV: Social Media, food blogs, chef TV shows, and foodie apps. The innovation is constant. As soon as someone comes with a new one, it is copied and diversified the next day — which actually becomes a new innovation, and therefore a new trend.
KF: What would you say is the current climate of business in the restaurant industry?
EV: I am not sure that the restaurant business has suffered a lot from the current climate of business. Food is a necessity and people in New York have no time, and don’t take time to cook. During crisis periods it is well known that people compensate their needs with the basic pleasures of the life — good food and good wine! All the three-star Michelin chefs are now opening casual dining, such as Alain Ducasse, Jean George, Daniel Boulud, David Burk and many more. They use their reputation to market lower hand, very lucrative and reasonably priced restaurants. The impact of the social media and all those new foodie apps also boosted the consumer awareness of what is the new trend. Bloggers are actually trendsetters.
KF: Besides gastronomy, what do you enjoy?
EV: I am passionate about travel, discovering different cultures, religion and lifestyle. When mixing all the lifestyle and cultural elements you come up with an amazing recipe, which no one else can copy unless they travel and meet the same people that actually inspired you. I love giving my time and passion to charity [and] lately I have joined the Junior Committee for the NY Center for Children. We are raising money in organizing memorable events and offering better conditions for the abused children of New York. When I was living in Thailand, I was supporting orphans by offering them food and day-to-day needs. Giving back is very important to me.