Welcome to Our Family!
Who are the Founders of the Culinary Institute Lenôtre®?
Alain and his wife Marie own the Culinary Institute Lenôtre®. Alain is a certified pastry chef, candy maker and ice cream maker; he was also trained as a cook at the Grand Véfour, a famous 3-Star Michelin Restaurant in Paris. He has over 40 years of experience and earned an executive MBA from the University of Paris I. Alain also comes from a famous Parisian family.
Thirty years ago, he created the chef school Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, France, one of the world’s best retraining schools, where he taught for a number of years. He developed the international Lenôtre pastry shop franchise and technical assistance departments, expanding the Lenôtre chains in Japan, Germany and Brazil while also helping his parents’ business become the number one caterer in France. After receiving a request for a franchise in Texas, Alain and Marie were invited to visit Houston, Texas in 1981. Ultimately they started their own business there, first with a retail and wholesale bakery. In 1998, they opened an international cooking and baking school for career seekers, career changers, food enthusiasts and also for continuing education. As their fame was spreading they were asked to franchise their “Know How” in the Middle East. There are now 10 “Alain LeNôtre” restaurants and bakeries in Cairo, Egypt. Alain LeNôtre’s motto is: “Tradition, quality & respect.” He chose the word tradition because he is the 3rd generation of chefs in the LeNôtre family.
Alain Lenôtre received The Order of Agricultural Merit bestowed by the French Government for extraordinary services rendered to Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Marie Lenôtre was appointed Director of the Culinary Institute Lenôtre® in 1998. Marie has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Houston, a Bachelors Degree in Drama from the University of Athens, Greece, a Master’s Degree in Public Health Education from the University of Texas, and a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Houston.
In 2001, Marie Lenôtre, with a group of philanthropist socialites in Houston, created the Culinary Endowment & Scholarship, a Texas non-for-profit organization that raises scholarship funds for underprivileged students who aspire to a culinary career. 100 tuition scholarships have been disbursed so far to such students after many charity galas and the support of many generous friends. Marie was the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 President of the Houston, Texas Chapter Les Dames d’ Escoffier, a society of professional women of achievement in the food and beverage industry. She was honored by the French Government with The Order of Merit at an event officiated by Chef Daniel Boulud.
– From the Founder of Culinary Institute Lenôtre, Alain Lenôtre
“I inherited the love of cooking and baking from my parents and grandparents. My grandmother, Eleonore, was among the first French woman chefs in the 1900’s. She was the private executive chef for the Baron Rothschild family at their residences in Paris and Bordeaux. My grandfather, the elder Gaston Lenôtre, was chef of the Grand Hotel. In the big city of Paris, when Gaston and Eleonore discovered they were both from the same small village of Normandy, it was love and they married. They had two boys, my father Gaston and my uncle Marcel.
Gaston was born in 1920 in the province of Normandy, known for Calvados Brandy, cheeses (including Camembert), and the Mont Saint Michel Monastery. As a child, Gaston loved to play soccer, but he spent his teenage years after school working in bakeries and kitchens. This ethic of hard work paid off later on when, with my mother Colette, Gaston made the Lenôtre name famous in Paris.
He liked to work with his family members which at one point included twelve of us. This includes the third generation of Lenôtre chefs, which are my cousin Patrick Lenôtre (who helped found the Culinary Institute Lenôtre) and myself. So there was no escape for the next generation of Lenôtres. My wife Marie and I, along with my sisters, Sylvie and Annie, have continued the family tradition of fine cooking and baking.
Gaston Lenôtre was admired as a living Antonin Caréme (1784-1833) or as a modern Auguste Escoffier (1846-1945). He was certainly the contemporary world’s most famous French Pastry Chef and caterer. Gaston learned from the old masters, but he also rejuvenated them. By doing so, he altogether rejuvenated the French Culinary Arts.
In addition to his incredible taste and professional “Savoir Faire,” Gaston made many bold moves. Among his list of firsts are the first chain of upscale bakeries in Paris, a bakery-café bistro in the first French shopping mall, the first central kitchen in the country outside of Paris, the first professional French re-training chef school, the first line of frozen desserts distributed all over France, and he developed the first International bakery franchises (now in a dozen countries including Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and Kuwait).
My father wrote nine recipe books with my sister Sylvie that have been translated into English, German and Japanese and have sold close to a million copies. He also was the official caterer of the Soccer World Cup in France in 1998 and of the French Olympic team in Sydney, Australia. He catered for presidents, kings and celebrities all over the world.
In his final years, my father enjoyed a well deserved retirement at his hunting ranch in the Loire Valley. I went with my wife (Marie) and my son (Gaston) to visit him in his last moments. Together we made apricot jam, watched the wild ducks on his lakes, picked mushroom chanterelles in the nearby woods and cooked them for dinner.”