Adrien Aumont — Now we know exactly what we don't want for the on-board catering, we need to find the best people to finesse the model. In fact, I had some people in mind. We’re going to wait a little longer before revealing them to you, but they’re business partners who run two restaurants, one of which is Michelin-starred, as well as a patisserie, wine bar and hotel. In short, men of many talents, and both architects of the bistronomy scene I mentioned in the previous newsletter.
So we reached out, and after a few back-and-forths, met with them both. We hit it off immediately. Before even getting to the end of our pitch, they understood what we wanted to do with the Midnight Trains project. Soon after, we made the decision to work together. As well as bringing their talent and individuality, they’re good people, not just business partners.
Romain Payet — Much like Yellow Window, Luigi Martinelli, and Nicolas Bargelès, these two are extremely informed experts in their domain. Now you might be thinking: what do chefs of their calibre have to gain from getting involved with a project like Midnight Trains? Their reputation is second to none, they’re respected by their peers, and acclaimed by critics and the public. But besides that, they have a vision and a mission: to enable as many people as possible to eat well, and democratise the consumption of good quality food.
What’s more, they were in a period of personal and professional development themselves and wanted to boost their ability to get more people eating well. But doing so in Parisian restaurants with twenty or thirty covers isn’t easy. We’re offering them access to several hundred passengers at a time, which for them, is a huge opportunity. A gigantic sandbox in which to express creativity (constrained by the specificities of cooking on board a train).
Our new partners have brought expertise that goes beyond the products and the cuisine itself. They’re helping us create our restaurants from scratch, and in particular, working on finessing the atmosphere. The aim is to create a unique ambience that’s in line with the spirit of Midnight Trains, yet different from the rest of the carriages. It covers the creation of a menu, of course, but also the decoration, colours, furniture and soundscape. Strolling down the street to find a good restaurant, it’s always the look of a place that piques your interest. You might cast an eye over the menu, and if it suits, you go in. Then if you liked the food and the atmosphere, you tell your friends and family, and might even return. It’s the same for a train’s restaurant carriage. As we’ve said on many occasions, we’re committed to ensuring our restaurant carriages are convivial and hospitable, not just metal boxes for satiating your hunger. They’re an integral part of our vision for Midnight Trains and the experience we’re trying to conjure for passengers.
Adrien Aumont — Behind the general design of the restaurant carriage, there are obviously two technical issues. The first is the creation of the menu within the constraints of a restaurant carriage. The second, and much more complex one, is sourcing good-quality ingredients to feed hundreds of passengers on several daily night trains. It turns out that, yet again, we need to get creative, since no one has done this before - at least not in the way we want to.