Article By Rishan de Silva
On Friday morning, EatOut Kenya had the privilege of spending time with Mr. Maurice Hennessy, from the world-renown cognac brand, Hennessy, which falls under the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) group. Maurice Hennessy was visiting Kenya as part of their tribute to celebrate Kenya’s 50 years of independence, where Hennessy is releasing a limited edition bottle to commemorate and celebrate the event.
From the outset one may be intimidated by the prominent figure, towering over everyone else, and sharing the name of the prominent luxury brand, yet this is not the case. Mr. Hennessy, is very approachable and personable and cares about making connections with the people he talks to, EatOut was happy to share the company of such an endearing gentleman.
Maurice told EatOut that he “went to farming school, and [he’s] a farmer” and that he has “always been interested in rearing animals and growing things”, harkening back on an era of the self-sustaining man. He told us that he was not always being groomed to take over the business, despite being the 8th generation, as his father was a nuclear scientist who “thought that [he] would not really be interested in the business”.
In his youth, he interned at a few farms, then moved on to an internship in food distribution, which led him to take on an internship with a Hennessy distributor in Paris, which is where he realized that “the customers were very interesting, the people in the business were very interesting, the product itself was very interesting” and the people at Hennessy liked him.
Maurice Hennessy then went to Burkina Faso in West Africa, then known as Upper Volta, as part of a civil service program with the French Army, instead of joining the army itself. He worked in a hospital for about a year before being sent into the bush to train locals on farming practices.
When he returned to France there was a major oil crisis in 1975 and he was lucky to find a place within the Hennessy Company, and joined at the end of 1975.
In speaking about the celebration of Kenya and the release of this commemorative, limited edition bottle, Maurice said that the Hennessy brand enjoys commemorating significant events. They did so similarly for Jamaica’s 50-year celebration, and for Barrack Obama’s inauguration. He stated that Hennessy has “always had a love for Africa…and we know that some of you like to drink Hennessy, so let’s celebrate together!”.
We asked him what one restaurant experience has blown him away, to which he responded by saying that he is “not keen on elaborate food, likes to cook food himself” and in general enjoys “traditional foods” which do not involve too much “marketing”. He said that the best foods in France are found “in people’s homes”.
A modern renaissance-gentleman, Mr. Hennessy hopes to visit Kenya again, to spend time travelling and visiting different regions of the country.
There will be a gala tomorrow evening, where Hennessy will formerly present their commemorative limited-edition bottle to Kenya, and where they will also auction two bottles, one from 1963 and one from 2013, all proceeds will be donated to Sarakasi Trust.