Yak & Yeti feted with French order for promoting French gastronomy

KATHMANDU: The French government bestowed the distinction of Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole on Philippe Belhay, General Manager of Kathmandu-based Hotel Yak & Yeti for his contribution to the development of the French gastronomy.

On behalf of the French Minister for Agriculture, the distinction was conferred upon Belhay by French Ambassador to Nepal Yves Carmona.

The French government confers several distinctions in recognition of merit in various fields.  Among these, Le Mérite agricole was instituted on 7th July 1883 by the then Minister for Agriculture Jules Méline in recognition of services rendered to agriculture.

Belhay is a seasoned hotelier with experiences in managing hotels in Qatar, UK, France, Tunisia, India, China and Nepal.  He has been educated in the United Kingdom, Germany and France and speaks English, French, German, Italian and Arabic, according to a release issued by the Embassy of France to Nepal.

Belhay has been the foremost promoter of the project Goût de France/Good France in Nepal since its inception in 2015.

“Hotel Yak & Yeti, under Mr Belhay's management, has achieved the International award from World Luxury Hotel Awards, "Global Winner Luxury Historical Hotel" and "Luxury Historical Hotel Country Winner – Nepal in 2015 and 2016 respectively,” the Embassy mentioned in the release.

At the award distribution ceremony in Kathmandu on Monday, French Ambassador Carmona said, while referring to Belhay said: “Your guests might wonder what kind of agriculture you have practiced – is that dahl or bhat or raising yaks or yetis?”

Speech given by Ambassador Carmona on the occasion

Excellences, Excellencies, chers amis, dear friends,

Cher Philippe Belhay,

It gives me great pleasure to be here tonight in this historical magnificent Hotel Yak and Yeti to provide you with a very eminent French distinction, an officier du mérite agricole.

Your guests might wonder what kind of agriculture you have practiced – is that dahl or bhat or raising yaks or yetis?

Not at all.

Merite agricole is also awarded to high level chefs, as well as overall hospitality talents. Worldwide famous 3-star Michelin chefs like Alain Ducasse, Guy Robuchon,, Jacques Le Divellec and Guillaume Gomez, chef at the presidential Palais de l’Elysée where he has worked for 20 years, have been awarded with it; the same with André Trigano, former CEO of Club Méditerranée, the famous resort group. And also statesmen like former French President Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Raymond Barre. And even the prince Charles of England.

Dear Philippe Belhay, your fate, your good fate was to become a distinguished host wherever your steps lead you. Born in a country famous for its hospitality and tolerance, the ancient Phénicie then Tunisia, you are an excellent connoisseur of the French gastronomy. A British citizen, your knowledge of French language and culture qualifies you as honorary French. Your entire career and your strong cosmopolitanism have made you a citizen of the world.

You have studied hotel management in British, German and French Universities and schools.

Gifted with a conspicuous sense of human relationships and a warm heart, you have spent decades creating or enhancing high level hotels, restaurants and golf courses in countries as diverse as Qatar, UK, France, Tunisia, India, China and now Nepal. You have been an enthusiastic promoter of the already famous campaign “good France / Goût de France” since its inception in 2015 and from the very beginning, of quality French food and beverage.

You can speak fluent English, French, German, Italian & Arabic and also some Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Swedish. Therefore, your place in this international society of Kathmandu is a very iconic one. Your dedication to your job, I should say to your mission, is so intense that this hotel is also your home.

It has been that way in bad times as well as in good times. No one could forget that during the 2015 earthquake, you hosted hundreds of stranded and shocked tourists. With your well trained staff, you kept Yak and Yeti running without any interruption, letting the comfort of your guests take precedence on your own.

These are the qualities which have also been honoured by this medal.

And now that moment has arrived and I must proceed in French as per the protocol:

Philippe Belhay, au nom du Ministre de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt, nous vous faisons officier de l’ordre du mérite agricole.