The true story of the Chef Factory

10 dates which have marked the school's history

  • 1602 

    The floods in Lyon

    Crue à Lyon

    During a really bad flood, the river Saône broke its banks and spilled over the Quai des Célestins. Like many other parts of Lyon, the Chef Factory was flooded. To mark the occasion, our budding young chefs invented a new recipe known as "écrevisses à la nage" (swimming crayfish).

  • 1784 

    The Montgolfier brothers

    Les frères montgolfier

    The Montgolfier brothers launched the first hot air balloon, which would go on to bear their name: La Montgolfière. It caused a huge stir throughout the kingdom. Questioned by the king who was keen to know where such an idea came from, the brothers mentioned a visit to the Chef Factory when they saw a soufflé taking off and floating upwards after being removed from the oven.

  • 1793 

    The siege of Lyon

    Siège de Lyon

    In the heady days of the French Revolution, Lyon underwent a terrible siege as punishment for taking sides with the Girondists against the National Convention. Its inhabitants survived, thanks in part to the generous cuisine provided to them by the pupils from the Chef Factory.

  • 1815 



    Upon his return from the island of Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte stopped off in Lyon and left delighted, shouting after him "Lyonnais, je vous aime" (people of Lyon, I love you). What the official account doesn't tell us however is that he had just come out of a copious lunch prepared by the pupils from the Chef Factory. According to certain historians, what Napoleon actually said was "I love Lyonnais sausage".

  • 1831 

    The silk workers' revolt

    Révolte des Canuts

    The canuts (the silk workers, to whom the city owed its prosperity) were on strike. Unbeknown to many people, the real reason for this strike was the announcement that the Chef Factory would be stopping deliveries of their famous pike quenelles to the factory's canteens.

  • 1895 

    The Lumière brothers

    Les frères Lumière

    Using their new invention, the cinematograph, the Lumière Brothers filmed their first film in Lyon: Workers leaving the Lumière factory. In fact their very first film, which unfortunately got destroyed, was filmed several months earlier in the Chef Factory. According to the archives, it was called simply Quenelle and told the story of the life, death and resurrection of a pike.

  • 1933 

    Eugénie Brazier

    Eugénie Brazier

    Eugénie Brazier, one of the leading cooks known locally as the "Lyonnais Mothers", was twice awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. It was time for celebration at the Chef Factory because she was the first woman to have learned her trade at this secret school, where she went on to become one of the establishment's leading teachers.

  • 1942 

    The French resistance

    Les maquisards

    As the nerve centre of numerous French resistance cells, Lyon became known as the "capital of the resistance" in France. The Chef Factory played a key role in this distinction by introducing a clandestine communication system: the young homing pigeon in a salt crust.

  • 1961 

    Paul Bocuse

    Paul Bocuse

    Already awarded a star in the Michelin Guide, Paul Bocuse went on to become Meilleur ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France). When interviewed just after the meeting of the awards panel, he emotionally mentioned a mysterious Chef Factory where he had "learned everything" before denying this the following day. An urban legend was born: dozens of journalists and detectives began trying unsuccessfully to find the school.

  • 2013 

    The Bocuse d'or trophy

    Bocuse d'or

    The Bocuse d'or trophy of Léa Linster (the only woman winner of the Bocuse d’or and former student at the Chef Factory) was stolen in her restaurant. The rumour incriminates a certain Rodolphe Belsauce, former student at the Chef Factory too, who had been expelled from the school after selling for a fortune his cooking book and all his secrets...

Discover the secret of Lyon,

the City of Gastronomy

Somewhere in Old Lyon, there is a secret spot that has been home to a mysterious school for several centuries.
This school is behind the exceptional know-how of Lyon's chefs
raising Lyon to the rank of "City of Gastronomy"