Alain Ducasse: biography, professional activities
Everyone has heard of three-star restaurants and five-star hotels. But there is a 14 star chef. Just three months before his 60th birthday, Alain Ducasse accumulated so many Michelin awards that he could form his own constellation.
Instead of introducing
When he was only 33, he became the youngest chef, who managed to get 3 stars. 16 years later, in 2006, the Michelin Guide to New York honored his Essex House restaurant with 3 stars. This made him the first chef to head 3 three-star establishments at the same time (the other two are Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée Hotel in Paris). If you add five more one-star, 4 in France and 1 in Monaco, then a total of 14 will be!
At the same time, he created a chain of hotels, restaurants and bistros, which stretches from Las Vegas to Tokyo. Dyukass - the dream of any headhunter. He is able to simultaneously write the text of a speech and answer questions from a journalist.Jean-Francois Piège, while the chef of the Ducass restaurant in the Plaza-Athénée, on hearing this, asked puzzledly: “Do you mean that he did only two things at the same time?” Even his excuses for being late are unattainably high. “I'm sorry,” he says, as if apologizing, “they summoned me for an urgent audience with Prince Albert.”
Photos by Alain Ducasse are presented later in the article.
Taste for life
Ducass's obsession to fill his life with as many things as possible can be traced after 1984, when he became involved in the terrible plane crash that occurred during his flight to Courchevel in the French Alps. Unfortunately, the Piper Aztec, on which he flew, crashed into a mountain. Four colleagues of Dyukass died, and he was thrown out of the cabin, and he miraculously survived. According to the French restaurateur, this helped him to understand what is important and what is not. Ducasse moved away from the kitchen and opened his eyes to the vast world.
It has become a phenomenon of international scope. The ideas with which Alain Ducasse is constantly gushing, books translated into dozens of languages are being distributed all over the world. Elegantly dressed and immaculately well-groomed, he looks more like a diplomat, a successful entrepreneur or CEO than a chef. And he, of course, personifies all four.In the seemingly calm and confident Ducass, the nails seem to be gnawed to life. “I'm not nervous,” he once told Fortune magazine. “I prefer to make others nervous.”
Alain Ducasse: biography and professional activity of a cook
The future chef was born on 13.09.1956, and grew up on his parents' farm in Castelsarrazin in southwest France. According to him, when you grow up close to birds and fields, gardens and markets, you cannot help but develop an instinctive craving for quality food. At the age of 12, he decided that he wanted to be a cook. Perhaps this was inspired by his grandmother, whose Sunday dinners filled his room above the kitchen with the smells of mushrooms and braised veal.
At the age of 16, Ducasse began his studies at a local restaurant, but only after working with the great Alain Chapelle in Myonne, near Lyon, he began to feel his purpose. To this day, he calls Chapelle his spiritual teacher. According to Ducasse, the key word here is “perfection.” Chapelle taught him to honor and respect products and offer them to the client in the most pure and perfect state.
After moving to the Cote d'Azur, Alain Ducasse became a chef at the Juan Hotel in Juan-les-Pins, where in 1985He was honored with two Michelin stars. Two years later, he was approached by the Hotel de Paris with the proposal to head the ornate Louis XV restaurant. Acting, it would seem, under the influence of stupid bravado, Ducasse agreed to a clause in the contract, according to which within four years he should receive three Michelin stars, which is an almost impossible task.
He managed to achieve this in 3 years. And he did it by detoxifying high French cuisine and cleansing it from most of the excesses. Ducasse has much less sour cream and butter and much more simple flavors, such as extra virgin olive oil, lemons, herbs and sea salt.
“If my kitchen had to be defined with only one taste, it would be a fine, aromatic, extra-class olive oil,” says Ducasse. “Why hide the taste of freshly picked vegetables with rich sauce?”
Some critics at one time rejected his love for rustic Mediterranean cuisine, but success was on his side. Then, when a clearly ambitious young chef moved to a three-star restaurant where the great Joel Robuchon had previously worked,critics again took it as the arrogant act of a selfish adventurer. But it took Ducasse only 8 months to get his own 3 stars.
When in 2000 he moved his restaurant to the luxurious hotel Plaza Athénée, the Michelin guide decorated him with his highest award only 5 months after opening. But that is not all. At the same time, Michelin took one star from "Louis XV", despite the fact that the chef, menu, staff and standards have not changed at all. Dyukass believes that this was a warning to him, not a restaurant. “If Michelin was the only guide in the world, then I think it would be worth worrying,” he says. “But this is not true.”
However, when the third star was reassigned in 2003, he acknowledged that he felt that justice was restored. Infrequently simple and natural flavors of Provence can be found in the magnificent setting of the Louis XV dining room with its upward ceiling, complex frescoes and crystal chandeliers.
This combination works because the kitchen smells unusually clean. A collection of the finest Provencal vegetables wrapped in spring onions and lightly cooked with truffles and taggiasca olives are ridiculously good.And the absence of artificial ingredients in a plate of fragrant local strawberries with snow-white mascarpone-sorbet is balanced by the magnificent taste of a soft chocolate bar and crispy toffee, decorated with gold foil.
Chef Alain Ducasse, however, does not cook in person. Those days are long gone. He admits that now he spends little time in the kitchen, and does not know the reasons why he should do this, positioning himself as a “creative chef”. Who comes up with ideas, leaving their implementation to a carefully selected and trained team. According to Ducasse, he cooks most of the dishes in his head.
His real secret lies in selecting the recruited and retained cooks, such as the native of Nice, Frank Cherutti, the extremely talented chef of Louis XV. He has been working with Ducasse since 1980; they used to cook together at the Juana Hotel.
It is tempting to see a cult leader in Ducasse. But when asked whether it is fair to assume that he runs his business as a religious cult, and his subordinates must unconditionally believe in their boss and his values, he replies shortly: “No, that would not be fair.”Nevertheless, many consider him a genius and guru, including the British creator of the culinary empire, Gordon Ramsay. “I try to follow in his footsteps,” he says. - Its absolute consistency is amazing. He has 3 three-star restaurants, and they are all phenomenal. ”
For Ramsay, the decisive factor was that Ducasse proved that there was no need for the chef to directly participate in the preparation of food for success. Indeed, his most famous statement to his critics is that today the chef should do more than just get fat at the stove. “The difference between Ducassus and me is,” says Ramsay, “that I invest in talent, and he clones them. His chefs never work for themselves. This is always the restaurant of Alain Ducasse. ”
In the red book, which give each recruit Ducass, outlined 12 core values. These include:
- passion (“love is enough, the rest will come”);
- harmony (“act as one” immediately);
- diversity (“mixing of cultures is a treasure for the mind”);
- courage ("do not be afraid and dare").
A French entrepreneur Alain Ducasse can dare.“I imagine the places I want to visit as a client, and then I create them,” he says. “Once I imagined a city restaurant where you could sit down and create your own dinner, become a chef, combining that with this.” This is how the menu of its Spoon network, which operates in five different countries, was born.
Keeper of traditions
And while, on the one hand, Ducasse is pushing the boundaries of catering establishments, at the same time he is busy preserving traditions and history. Joining forces with Thierry de la Brosse from L’Ami Louis bistro, he bought two charmingly old-fashioned and unique Parisian bistros (Aux Lyonnais and Benoit), turning them into ... two charming old-fashioned bistros. Aux Lyonnais is a great place to eat and feel the confident brilliance of old Paris. Benoit - the lost experience of brass railings, lace curtains and hearty long-lasting dishes.
Somehow, French chef Alain Ducasse took the time to purchase three wonderful country hotels: in Provence, in the Basque Country and in Tuscany. He is also the president of the prestigious Châteaux et Hôtels de France private group and chairs the industry training center, the cooking school and the publishing house (Les Editions d’Alain Ducasse).In addition, Ducasse has written dozens of books, including: La Riviera d'Alain Ducasse (1992), Spoon, food and wine (1999), Dictionnaire amoureux de la cuisine (2003), Spoon Cook Book (2006), Nature: Simple, sain et bon (2009). He also launched an online store where you can buy chocolate, dishes, cooking books, including the luxurious edition of Alain Ducasse's Culinary Encyclopedia, available in Russian.
In addition to the controlled perfectionism, in his life there are moments of whimsy, almost whim. He became so obsessed with the work of the Belgian ceramics designer Pete Stockmans that he commissioned him to create a set for "Louis XV". According to Ducasse, his creations are the result of a completely new vision of porcelain. Cornflower blue plates and designer accessories are a bright, alien, denim presence in the gilded luster of the “Louis XV”. But the master said, so it should be.
Like Joel Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse restaurateur actively invests in Japan. According to him, it is impossible to remain indifferent to Japanese culture. This is another civilization, where everything that has been learned before must be forgotten. This is a huge intellectual challenge and a great sensual experience. Although the Tokyo adaptation of Benoit has already shown itself well, great hopes are being placed on the elite Beige restaurant.Ducasse is convinced that he will be able to rise to the same dizzying heights as his existing three-star establishments, and there is no reason to think otherwise.
Alain Ducasse collaborates with the European Space Agency, working on hermetically packed lunches designed for extreme conditions, such as space travel (what he calls “food for extreme pleasure”), and also creates recipes based on nine ingredients that According to the agency, could be grown in greenhouses on Mars. How clever and Dukas-like! He knows that sooner or later his opportunities to get Michelin stars here on Earth will run out.