Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Alain Ducasse

I love food and that's almost an understatement. While most of world is charmed by Ferran Adria and molecular gastronomy, I believe that cooking in the most old fashioned terms; good technique, freshest ingredients and the know-how to mix and match flavours is more enjoyable. The best of molecular gastronomy cannot be eaten everyday like a staple, unlike haute cuisine. I respect Ferran Adria for his humble beginnings but I'll leave that for another posting.

Alain Ducasse was born in 1956 on a farm in Castel-Sarrazin in southwestern France. He recently gave up his French nationality for his Monaco nationality which was bestowed upon him. In 1972, when he was sixteen, Ducasse began an apprenticeship at the Pavillon Landais restaurant in Soustons and at the Bordeaux hotel school. After this apprenticeship, he began work at Michel Guérard’s restaurant in Eugénie-les-Bains while also working for Gaston Lenôtre during the summer months. In 1977, Ducasse started working as an assistant at Moulin de Mougins under legendary chef Roger Vergé, creator of Cuisine du Soleil, and learned the Provençal cooking methods for which he was later known.

Ducasse's first position as chef came in 1980 when he took over the kitchens at L’Amandier in Eugène Mougin. One year later, he assumed the position of head chef at La Terrasse in the Hôtel Juana in Juan-les-Pins. In 1984, he was awarded two stars in the Michelin Red Guide. In that same year, Ducasse was the only survivor of a Learjet crash that nearly took his life.  

What makes this man so special is while some chefs hold the honour of having a 3 star michelin restaurant, this man was the first to have 3, 3 star michelin restaurants in 3 different cities (Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Plaza Athénée in Paris and Alain Ducasse at Essex House (which was eventually closed in 2007 and reopened at the St Regis recently as Adour).

I've tried Spoon in HK which is almost like a 2nd line for him. It was good. Imagine how well the 3 michelin star restaurants would feed.

Alain Ducass in Essex House
Alain Ducasse in his kitchen at Paris.
Louis XV dining hall
Table settings at Louis XV
Dining Hall at Plaza Athénée
Seared Scallops with Green and White Swiss chard and Ponzu sauce.
Wild Scottish Patridge "Sur Canapé" It is served with a chicken liver mousse, foie gras and cognac "pie", chestnut purée, and roasted winter fruits.

Lobster poached with Salsifis, Spinach and Black Truffles.
Australian Barramundi with Chocolate Dolce Forte.
Bitter Chocolate Hedgehog with Caramelised Almonds.
Chocolate Truffle Cake.
Warm Apple Balls between Crispy Layers with quince gelée and Earl Grey ice cream.
Chocolate and Raspberry Star

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