ONLYLYON today relies on a powerful network of 26,500 Ambassadors, including 5,000 abroad.
It is by participating in the development of a company in the real estate sector that Jean discovers the rich economic and cultural fabric of the Lyon region. He is immediately impressed by this 'iconic city,' the capital of gastronomy, from which he maintains numerous connections, partners, and friends. An entrepreneur and networker, Jean is involved in various investment projects in the 'Hospitality' sector in collaboration with hotel groups, investors, and property developers.
Now based in Barcelona, Jean continues to contribute to the influence of the metropolis, both through his professional activities, where he actively supports the development of Lyon's tourism, and also through his personal commitment.
Convinced of a strong economic and cultural connection between Lyon and Barcelona, Jean wanted to join the Ambassadors community to support this development and promote exchanges. As a correspondent, he animates the network and works on strengthening the ties between these two 'exceptional and ultimately so close' cities.
A Franco-American, Julie-Anne Lutfi always dreamt of a life that would combine her two favorite cities: Lyon, where she grew up and Boston, where she studied law. Quite naturally, in 2016, she became ONLYLYON’s correspondent in Boston for the city’s 130 members of the Ambassadors network. A corporate lawyer, she has since then spread the “good word” among Bostonians. Involved in developing the Big Booster project (an international start-up acceleration program), she is also a go-to contact for Lyon inhabitants who wish to settle in the area.
Huanhuan Zou Belous
After graduating from the China Youth University of Political Studies, Huanhuan Zou Belous worked as a journalist for XINHUA News Agency before coming to France in 2005 for a Master’s in Communication. She fell in love with Lyon, where she found not only a job, but also the man who would later become her husband! While in charge of cooperation between the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region and China, she developed her knowledge of the area and the city. After 5 years at the Hôtel de Région, she became a consultant in 2013 before creating 26° Communication: “the ideal temperature”, she says with a smile. Since then, she has organised events and set up international partnerships, particularly between France and China. Now aged 40, Huanhuan loves the city of Lyon, which is similar to Ganzhou, her native city near Guangzhou, as well as its atmosphere, culture and gastronomy. She has been an ONLYLYON Ambassador and Correspondent since 2013 and works in connection with foreign delegations, attracting investors, journalists and artists via cultural or gastronomic projects or for the Festival of Lights, Sirha, Lyon BD Festival, the Contemporary Art Biennale, etc.
Pushed by the difficulties of studying theory of gastronomy in Japan, Daisuke Sato arrived in Lyon in 2001 for a DEA in Humanities and French Civilisation specialized in Gastronomy of the Past. He learned how the first French restaurants in the 18th century changed how we eat. He fell in love with this “big international city with a people-centred feel, listed as UNESCO World Heritage, where you can discover architecture from the Roman era to today, which is rare”. An internship with ADERLY, during which he was tasked with supporting Japanese companies wanting to join the metropolis, strengthened his resolution. From theory to practice, he took the plunge. After 15 years in Lyon, where he created his own consulting agency, ALFELIS, he moved to Paris in 2016. Now a food & beverage consultant and the manager of a Japanese restaurant called Omusubi Gonbei near the Palais-Royal in Paris, he became an ONLYLYON Correspondent and Ambassador in Tokyo in 2019. Since then, between trips to Japan, he brings together the Lyon community in Tokyo around his adoptive city.
Like her parents and grandparents, Noémie was born and grew up in the Croix-Rousse district. After studying at INSA, she headed off for the USA, diploma in hand... And now, at the age of 26, she has been living in New York since 2018. As a supply chain engineer for Dassault Falcon Jet, she discovered ONLYLYON in 2019. Seduced by the idea of promoting her hometown and building a network of good vibes on the other side of the Atlantic, she accepted without hesitating when offered the role of correspondent. “I was already an ambassador without knowing it, because I’m so proud of my city, I never stop talking about how great it is. Lyon is a human-sized city, perfectly located between ocean and mountains, combining lifestyle and incredible architecture. For me, France is Lyon: capital of gastronomy and possibly the best city in France!” she says enthusiastically, mentioning Paul Bocuse, Cafe Terroir, Monsieur P, Balthazar and Copains Copines on the Croix-Rousse Hill. Nowadays, she runs monthly after-work drinks with Hugo Crimier, bringing people from Lyon together around their ties to the city. “We live far from Lyon, so finding a bit of home here is great.”
Working in the gastronomical sphere with her company Tastimony, Anne-Sophie has clearly come up with the right recipe for bringing together London’s community of Lyonnais and promoting the city across the Channel. Anne-Sophie, who coaches UK teams selected for the Bocuse d’Or competition and the Pastry World Cup, never misses a chance to help people discover Lyon.
Hugo grew up in Lyon until he was 18, before leaving for Mexico. Now logistics director at L’Oréal, he has been living in New York since 2010. For him, becoming an ONLYLYON Correspondent felt completely natural. “This way, I can keep a connection with my roots, meet other people from Lyon and talk about Croix-Rousse and local restaurants, like my favourite, Le Garet... For me, Lyon remains the capital of gastronomy and the French resistance, framed by the two hills of Croix-Rousse and Fourvière. Between the Gallo-Roman sites and the architecture, few cities in the world can claim to have such striking historical heritage over such a long period,” he enthuses. Since 2019, he has been coordinating a community of expats, including several company directors. “We support them by organising events in their premises and activating the network to promote Lyon in New York.” Since August 2021, he and Noémie Patricot have been organising “Au Cabanon” events every third Thursday of the month in Manhattan, led by a company director... from Lyon, of course!
He was born and raised in Lyon and still lives here when not putting on his shows all around the globe. Appointed as head of the Créteil and Val de Marne National Centre for Choreography in 2009, this "Lyonnais through and through" remains very fond of his city. The dancer and choreographer admits that Lyon, the capital of dance with its Maison de la Danse and its dance biennale, helped him become what he is today. A pioneer in his field, he continues to promote Lyon’s identity. The founder of Compagnie Käfig and of the Pôle Pik Choreography Center in nearby Bron, he has managed to take hip-hop from the streets to the stage of many prestigious venues. More than a form of recognition, for Mourad Merzouki being an ONLYLYON representative is a way for him to “wear the team's stripes and to build bridges between Lyon and the rest of the world.”
A Lyon native, Daniel Boulud is one of the most famous expatriate chefs in the United States. In New York, he heads several brasseries, cafés and restaurants, including the two-starred Daniel. The chef honoured us by serving as the representative of New York’s ONLYLYON community at a kickoff party in September 2019. “In my view, Lyon is a unique city given the influence of its gastronomy, its geographical location, culinary traditions, its wine-growing areas, and more broadly for its lifestyle. It is a subtle blend of excellence, enjoyment, history and creativity. Lyon is the perfect recipe!“
Christophe Paucod, the Michelin-starred Lyon chef who heads Tokyo’s “Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonnais” bouchon in Tokyo did us the honour of becoming an ONLYLYON community representative in late 2019. It is a small piece of Lyon in the heart of Japan. With its typical Lyonnais décor the ONLYLYON Ambassadors enjoy gathering in this bistro-style restaurant. “I have tried to bring traditional Lyon cuisine with a slightly more refined touch, and slightly smaller quantities to offfer refined bouchon dining experience.”
Whether they are Lyon natives or people who have adopted the city, living in Lyon or abroad, the Ambassadors, through their activities and their love for the city, help to promote Lyon in France and around the world. This strategic influencer network plays a decisive role in the ONLYLYON program’s activities.
An international network
In all, 13 correspondents organise, develop and manage ONLYLYON communities in Sao Paulo, Sydney, Moscow, Boston, Montreal, Brussels, London, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and Paris! Detecting opportunities for business, cultural or academic collaboration for the Lyon area, they are vital points of contact for promoting ONLYLYON’s various missions worldwide.