Interview with Alain Ducasse, the ‘Glocal’ French Superstar Chef
When Alain Ducasse is not jetting across the world to one of the 23 restaurants in his 19 Michelin star studded empire, he may be cooking, though not necessarily in one of his own kitchens. It might be Massimo Bottura's Reffertorio soup kitchen in Milan, or the Lido 84 restaurant on Lake Garda for the Gelinaz chef shuffle, or simply putting in an appearance at a chef event in Los Angeles. We met recently for a conversation about his passion for gastronomy and his quest for excellence in all his ventures, which are meticulously researched and planned to the last detail. No surprise that this perfectionist's schedule includes four hours of tastings every day!
The elegant, dignified, and somewhat larger than life persona metamorphosed into an entirely different being as he spoke animatedly about a tasting in Paris the previous day and about his love of travel and architecture. There was a lilt in his voice and a sparkle in his eyes as he described his meal at a new LA hotspot adjacent to a museum or the second Gout de France event (initiated by him) happening around the world. His Breton wife, Gwenaelle, is an architect and the couple, along with their young son Arzhel, when not in Paris spends time on their farmhouse in the Southwest of France. Originally from the same area, he trained with greats like Alain Chapel, Roger Verge, Gaston Lenotre, and Michel Guerard. He now is sharing the knowledge acquired through his decades of work in the business via his training programs for the professional, as well as novice cooks, and numerous books including "Cooking for Kids" a cookbook for children.
The savvy entrepreneur heads an extensive culinary empire that stretches from France to London, New York to Las Vegas, Hong Kong to Tokyo, and from Monte Carlo, Monaco all the way to Doha, Qatar. The three flagship restaurants located at the Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Louis XV (renamed the Alain Ducasse restaurant) at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London hold three prestigious Michelin stars each. In addition to these, he has a Hotel & Chateau Collection, inns in the countryside, chocolate manufacturing, a consulting division, cooking school, and even a publishing company that produces many books authored by him.
But wait the Chevalier of the Order of the Legion d'Honneur bestowed man is not done yet!
The most recent project Champeaux, a contemporary brasserie at Forum Les Halles, debuted in April 2016. The royal Palace of Monaco, with which he has a longstanding relationship since the time of Prince Rainier, commandeered his services for the wedding celebrations of Prince Albert in 2011. The royal connection that began with Monaco continues next year with Ore, a modern cafe which will be opening at the Palace of Versailles. His first foray into China with a restaurant project in Beijing also comes later this year. The culinary world pays close attention to whatever he does and when he chose to introduce a "naturalite” menu at his Plaza Athenee restaurant, a furor ensued over the mistaken impression that his restaurant was going vegetarian. His wife incidentally is a vegetarian. The newly reopened and extensively refurbished restaurant in Paris lost a star for a year, but quickly regained it, returning to its elite status in the world of haute cuisine.