Monsieur François Delahaye

Chief Operating Officer

Dorchester Collection

GM Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris

The fictional hero you wish you had been?

James Bond! I love James Bond

What would be the title of your autobiography?

I'm not planning on making one but if I had to write one it would be "The Life of an Innkeeper"

Someone among your friends who symbolizes French elegance in your eyes?

Inès de la Fressange! I find that she is the person who most represents French elegance

The most memorable dinner you have attended?

Martell, the oldest of the grand Cognac Houses’ 300th anniversary spectacular celebration at the Château de Versailles. We first had a glass of champagne on the Château's terrace while the Patrouille de France gave a flight demonstration exclusively for us. It was absolutely mind blowing! Then, we had dinner at L’Orangerie. The menu was prepared by Paul Pairet, the Michelin-starred chef of Ultraviolet restaurant in Shanghai. During the dinner, there was a projection of images on all the walls which made us live an intense moment: while we were eating truffle and at the same time, we were watching a video that was making us pass from the soil and the oaks then to the truffles that the dogs were finding out… Fifteen dishes were served to us with beautiful wines. Then, the dinner ended with a fireworks display ... It is the most magical dinner I have ever attended.

An accessory that never leaves you?

A jacket ! I always wear a jacket. I find important for a man to wear a jacket. Even when I go on vacation to the Maldives, I put on a jacket even if it is a very light one… I think a man must have a certain elegance, I hate when people wear T-shirts.

A character trait that defines you?

I like to help! people I love it when people call to ask me a favor

Your well-being secret?

I try not to drink too much alcohol, it's very complicated, but drinking too much is not good for me. I try to be careful to what I eat because I love to eat. I practice sport with a coach ... Yes, I have little tips to avoid aging too quickly ...

If I want to invite you for dinner, what dish can you not resist?

I am very eclectic! I love Japanese food and love heavy family dishes like veal blanquette and beef bourguignon. I don’t like gourmet cooking when it’s too much fuss.

The worst table neighbor you've ever had?

It's hard to say because I have a very specific point of view. I'll tell you an anecdote where I had dinner 2 nights in a row at the same restaurant. It was Robuchon's restaurant, 59 avenue Raymond Poincarré in Paris. The first night, we were with my wife and a travel agent named Bill Fischer who is not really a funny man. Finally, I had prepared myself so much for the evening to be dreadful that the dinner went quite well and was even nice...

The next night, we went back to the same place with my wife and had the same menu and this time, we were with my step dad and step mom. My wife spoke of inheritance and I have terrible memories of this moment. The worst dinner of my life!

I would say my worst table neighbors are people who don't like to eat.

I attended several dinners at the Quai d'Orsay including one with very demanding people sitting next to me for who everything was an issue! They ate out of plastic bowls leaving on the side their porcelain plates. I must say that this dinner was a bit complicated for me to manage as a neighbor. Indeed, we were in a stunning place at the heart of the French art de vivre since it was with the Colbert Committee, the women were in long dresses and the men in tuxedos, everything was very beautiful and there were these people next to me who ruined the charming atmosphere.

Do you live in a glitter world?

Yes, absolutely sometimes and it is part of my job! but, I have a wife and children who reset me well in the evening when I get home. I'm not freaking out either, thanks to them! Also, I have teams that I let speak and they express themselves freely. Just because I had lunch with Laurent Fabius doesn't mean I'm someone important.

A secret that you would be willing to share with me?

I have a secret for you! I commissioned a lady writer to write a book about the leave of a concierge who was retiring after 40 years working at the hotel. I wanted her to write the story of 40 years in the life of a concierge at the Plaza Athénée. The writer spent 2 years in the hotel canteen sitting with the employees. She would sit down and let them tell about their lives at the hotel. She had this ability to make people talk! When I read the huge book she gave me, I thought to myself that it would never be published. This book is an atomic bomb that would destroy the hotel's reputation. It’s appalling! If people ever read this book and find that they have been analyzed by the hotel staff and that their adventures of all kinds had been reported, they would recognize themselves in the situations described and that would be the end of the Plaza Athénée hotel. So the book is in my safe and it won't come out. The writer gives names that I could take off the book but people would recognize each other! The situations are so funny, so incredible and moreover they describe stories about famous people! This book is a real secret.

The last time you were amazed?

I am amazed by everything. The last time was last night! I dined with Pierre Hermé and his wife in their residence. He had cooked a fish, it was amazing! and for dessert, we have had a little ice cream! I am very lucky because I still manage to be amazed by simple moments, by a picture or by the smile of a child

A star whim that you have realized ?

An Arab prince arrived one day at the hotel with a snake - in a dry aquarium with some sand - which he had just purchased. At 2 a.m., he went to the concierge and told him he needed to feed his snake. The very resourceful concierge found through a friend working at the hospital, white lab mices which he gave to the prince. The next day, the client made a scandal saying that his snake was ill poisoned with mices that had undergone tests. In fact, we learned later, a snake goes into hibernation for 2 days after eating.

Many customers have complicated wishes and we are able to satisfy them. We can do everything, but never do anything illegal! For example, we had a client who asked us for little tigers to play with his children ...

What would you organize as an ultra exclusive experience to surprise the most VIIP of your VIPs?

Above all, I spend a lot of time listening to my guests and understanding what they like. Each guest is unique and I talk a lot with each of the them to understand their needs and desires. I remember a guest of the Sultan of Brunei to whom we told that we were going to offer a very unique experience. He was taken on a tour of the hotel kitchen, he was put on a chef's hat, a cook's jacket, an apron, he cooked food and even made small preparations. He asked to be photographed! I can tell you, he loved this experience very very much!

What if you weren't in the hotel business?

I like plans and volumes. If I hadn't been a hotelier, I would have liked to arrange spaces like an architect does