A meal with Frédéric Mazzella, Founder of Blablacar
An epicurean meal at Domaine Les Crayères (Reims), an intimate and convivial experience where Frédéric Mazzella, founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, reveals their little secrets and first emotions about Champagne to Gérard Lemarié, Reims philosopher, for Grappers.
In Reims for the launch of a short-distance service, the journey from Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne, he discovers Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 2007 and a few delicacies: foie gras with hibiscus jelly-rhubarb, butternut squash with daikon julienne-marrow seed with salsify purée-vanilla and grapefruit.
Where did the idea for BlaBlaCar come from?
Frédéric Mazzella: It was the Christmas holidays about a dozen years ago and I wanted to go home to Vendée but all the trains were full. I asked my little sister who lives in Rouen to swing by Paris to pick me up, and on the A10 motorway, and I realised that there were lots train seats that I couldn’t get but the cars on the road had lots of empty seats. The initial idea started there, for private customers, which allowed us to create dedicated services for professionals.
Champagne, yes, but for what occasion?
Frédéric Mazzella: I never open a bottle of champagne without having something to celebrate, except for rare occasions like the launch of our new project, end of year celebrations or a new baby. It also symbolises the beginning of a connection, an encounter with a person or a moment in life synonymous with pleasure, sociability and fun. I like it as an aperitif or at the end of a meal; I'll only drink a little with my main course. Sharing is not merely a word, it is a philosophy. The leitmotiv for developing a flourishing company around values of generosity, discussion and conviviality.
Without being an expert, can you tell the difference between champagnes?
Frédéric Mazzella: Drinking champagne should be a pleasant and convivial affair. I greatly admire the work of oenologists and sommeliers, their ability to create and recognise wines, grape varieties, and share their creativity with us. I have met Manual Peyrondet, Meilleur Sommelier de France 2008 and MOF 2011, several times and I find his ability to recognize wines truly incredible. I'm not a specialist as it is a genuine craft to discover wines and tastes, but I can understand the work, although it is difficult to put wines into words.
What would a BlaBlaCar champagne be like?
Frédéric Mazzella: If it was a brand, it would be called “Sharing”. The champagne would be a discussion, it would make people want to share and most importantly it would be full of movement. The bubbles would be fine with a pleasant level of sparkle without being aggressive. It would be very lively, just like a car-share journey.