By Lucas Southwell
Chef Gilles Renusson, a professor for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Arts at Grand Rapids Community College, was awarded Chevalier du Merite Agricole by the French Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume. The Consul General for the Consulate General of France in Chicago, Guillaume Lacroix, came to Grand Rapids to present the award in a private ceremony that was held at The Heritage Restaurant on Friday, Sept. 13.
This makes the world famous chef a Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre du Mérite Agricole (Order of Agricultural Merit). The French order, created in 1883 by the then Agricultural Minister of France Jules Méline, “rewards those persons – both French and foreigners – who have made noteworthy contributions to French agriculture… and is bestowed upon professionals who promote and elevate French Agriculture through their work in any of the different agricultural sectors.” Recipients of this award are chosen by the French Minister of Agriculture, and include many famous and notable individuals such as the late Queen Anne of Romania and Prince Charles of England. During the award ceremony Renusson received an ornate medal with a red and green ribbon and a diploma signed by the French Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume.
“It’s an honor,” said Renusson, “It’s not something you get for being great one day, its acknowledgement of one’s career, of philosophy, of honesty, of integrity, of hardwork and dedication.” He described it as the culmination of his long and successful career in the culinary arts, saying it was the “best you can get” when it comes to awards received in his line of work.
The certified master pastry chef has had an illustrious career which has taken him to restaurants around the world. He has worked as a chef in Paris, France at world famous restaurants such as Maxim’s, Fauchon and Dalloyau; in London, England at the luxurious Connaught Hotel; in Chicago, IL at the elegant Ritz-Carlton; and in Grand Rapids, MI at the impressive Amway Grand Plaza. He says one of the highlights of this career has been the opportunity to come teach students at GRCC. When discussing his career it becomes clear Renusson is pleased with the decisions he has made that has led him from his apprenticeship in Tours 50 years ago, to teaching at GRCC for the last 28 years.
“I was lucky to have made the right decisions and to work here at GRCC,” he said, Adding he is incredibly thankful for all of the support given to him by his friends and colleagues over the years.
Renusson is also thankful for all of the hard work done by everyone, including his colleagues and students, to create what he described as an “amazing” and “heartwarming” award ceremony. Where he felt surrounded by support and where “the food came out fantastic.”
In the wake of this honor Renusson thanks GRCC for everything it has done for him and advises students seeking success to “work hard, be true to your values, and believe in what you do.”