(Southern France) It was on this day, July 10th, in 1945 when a man was born by the name Jean-Michel. Although he came from humble beginnings, soon the entire world would know his name and the brilliance of his fortitude. For it was Jeal-Michel who studied under the brilliant chefs of South France and began opening stores all across the world. When he started to gain fame, he changed his name to a name you are surely familiar with. He has become so iconic in the world of food that you will see his name at convenience stores and restaurants across the globe. This, is the story of Pret Manger.
Raised in the same village that many iconic French films have been set, Pret Manger grew up eating the finest foods from the premiere chefs of the region. You see, his father was a food critic, not necessarily a good one, and he would take his son to the restaurants with him. He was a good father and would always share his meals with his son, discussing the attributes of the food.
Unfortunately, Papa Manger was a horrible writer and could never fully capture what him and his son had shared. Instead, he would often get sidetracked and end up telling a story he had overheard at the restaurant, completely forgetting the actual food. Even when a young Pret would remind him to do this, he would end up talking about parenting and not even mention the beautiful ratatouille dish they had shared earlier.
Pret Manger’s palette was so sophisticated by age 12 that the French government allowed him to skip the usual waiting period and begin drinking before he turned 13. When he went to college, he grew to see that not everyone had the appreciation for food that he did. He knew that he had no choice but to dedicate his life to serving others delicious treats. And so he did.
Over the next 30 years, Pret Manger established his name across the world until it was impossible to see ready-to-eat food without thinking of him. He loved his life and he loved serving others. However, over time he realized that he could only spread his message so far. After three decades on the job, he decided that his work had been done and he disappeared into the static of anonymity. Now, we simply remember him by his name and by his story.
Next time you head to the Pret Manger store, I hope you remember the story of a wonderful man who brought the delights of food to us all.
This article was written by Nathan Ellwood, who is a fool and a friend. Follow him for more on Twitter @NPEllwood.