A native of Landes, Alain Ducasse now runs more than twenty restaurants around the globe, three of which have been awarded triple Michelin stars, in Monaco, Paris and London. His curiosity knows neither limits nor borders; inspired by the world, he soaks in its cultural richness and diversity. At Plaza Athénée on Montaigne Avenue in Paris, the chef remains true to flavours and allows natural aromas to express themselves with strength and subtlety.
How would you define your profession?
Cooking is all about bringing happiness to your guests. Everything counts, from the plate and what surrounds it, to the smile of the person who welcomes you, to the setting and table arts. We have to find just the right balance and harmony so that the meal stays etched in memory.
What is your philosophy in the kitchen?
I see myself as the intermediary between nature and the eater. Nature gives us raw elements, and the chef elevates the natural flavours of products.
What values do you promote within your enterprise?
Gastronomy is one of the most beautiful examples of French art de vivre. We have to make this tradition live, however, and ensure it isn't treated as a museum piece. We have to respect the quality requirements while not being afraid of moving ahead and innovating.
What are the next big culinary trends?
Gastronomy will evolve as a reflection of the world's evolution. Two factors seem to have a direct impact on our work: the emergence of Brazil, which is rediscovering its culinary roots and inventing its tradition, and the environment, because the planet's resources are not inexhaustible.
What is your signature dish?
The Cookpot, a "glocal" recipe that defines today's reality. Seven seasonal vegetables stew in a slow cooker that I designed myself, making a dish that adapts to all cultures since the vegetables always stem from local terroir.
What products are emblematic of the Mediterranean terroir?
Vegetables, fruits, grains and Mediterranean fish. Even if these products are not exclusive to this area, they have their own special flavours in which the local soil and climate are expressed.
Where do you find inspiration?
In my contemporaries' way of life. I prepare Mediterranean dishes on the Riviera, but I make all sorts of Parisian food - from haute cuisine to bistro - in Paris. When in Osaka or New York, I let myself be inspired by the local culinary traditions.
What products or specialties would you like to introduce to someone coming to France for the first time?
First, I would like to both reassure and surprise them. I'd reassure by showing them that there is nothing intimidating about having a meal in a French restaurant. Then, I'd like to surprise by showing off the incredible diversity of today's French cuisine, its creativity and dynamic energy.