People 1 minute 05 September 2019

Alain Ducasse: Perfect Harmony

Legendary chef Alain Ducasse holds fast to the deep roots of French gastronomy to propagate its influence across the world through his culinary empire, Ducasse Paris.

Alain Ducasse video The MICHELIN Guide Insider Series

Born in 1956 on a farm in the Landes region in France, Alain Ducasse discovered a penchant for produce at an early age and entered the restaurant industry at 16, training with French culinary greats like Michel Guérard, Gaston Lenôtre, Alain Chapel and Roger Vergé. The course of his career has led him to become one of the world’s most decorated chefs with a global empire that spans beyond restaurants.

A passionate proponent of French gastronomy, the chef also helms Ducasse Paris, a business which includes his restaurants — 30 in seven countries from Paris to Tokyo — inns, cooking schools, cookbooks and consulting activities. “French cuisine is highly coveted and most prominent. The most contemporary and the most diverse because of the great chefs in France who have very personal interpretations of French cuisine,” says Ducasse. “A French meal is a model and it shines brightly.”

Alain Ducasse's signature cookpot with its seven seasonal vegetables in a white porcelain casserole varies at each of his restaurants all over the world.
Alain Ducasse's signature cookpot with its seven seasonal vegetables in a white porcelain casserole varies at each of his restaurants all over the world.

In 2015, Ducasse initiated an international day of celebration for French gastronomy. Held every year on 21 March, Goût de France, known in English as Good France, brings together 2,000 chefs, 150 French embassies and almost 250,000 people to celebrate the identity, vitality, tradition and diversity of French cuisine and lifestyle. “It is the idea that on this day, we celebrate a certain idea of restaurants in the French way and engage in conversation to share a moment together around food,” says Ducasse.

The theme of Goût de France this year was about socially and environmentally responsible cuisine, something that Ducasse feels strongly about as well. “A cuisine today needs to be careful of the health of our customers and consequently, cautious of the health of the planet,” explains the chef. “In our field, we have to be cautious in respecting the season, in respecting the fishing periods. And for the health of the individuals: less fats, less salt, less sugar, less animal proteins.”

Ducasse is passionate about the sharing of knowledge.
Ducasse is passionate about the sharing of knowledge.
A vital part of Ducasse Paris is its education arm: DUCASSE Éducation, which is 20 years old, teaches 400 students and trains 1,400 professionals each year. “We are obsessed with the transfer of knowledge because it will allow us to improve. We are very generous, we publish books, we teach cooking. What we are passionate about is the sharing of knowledge. You must give everything that you know, be generous,” he says.

“We can look further because we have good roots,” proclaims the chef emphatically. Indeed, French cuisine has been constantly evolving through the centuries, its modern movement spearheaded by frontrunners like Ducasse who pave the way for generations to come.
“Cooking is being in harmony with a society that evolves,” he explains. “Certainly, [the cuisine I do now] would not be the same cuisine that I'll do in 2025, nor is it the same as the one I did in 2010.”

It’s been a long and winding road, but never has Ducasse been more at ease with himself. “In my head, I feel perfectly in harmony with how I would like to live — in harmony with an evolving society, in harmony with myself.”

Dive deeper into the Ducasse philosophy in this video:

The MICHELIN Guide Insider Series: Perfect Harmony


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