People 3 minutes 05 February 2021

Chef Wilfrid Hocquet From Blue By Alain Ducasse On Capturing Its First MICHELIN Star

Chef Wilfrid Hocquet shares his experience opening a restaurant in a year of surprises.

French MICHELIN Guide Thailand Michelin star

Moments after finding out that his restaurant — Blue by Alain Ducasse at Icon Siam — received One MICHELIN Star, Chef Wilfrid Hocquet sat down with us to discuss this pivotal point in his career.

Chef Hocquet is no stranger to the world of MICHELIN Stars. He spent nine years training with his mentor, the esteemed Alain Ducasse, and over two decades gaining experience in some of the world’s most awarded establishments, including Le Louis XV and Daniel by Daniel Boulud. Now, Hocquet’s latest position as Executive Chef of Blue has brought his career full circle. Blue by Alain Ducasse is a contemporary French restaurant that removes the complexity of fine dining, creating a more accessible experience. The formula seems to have worked. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought to the culinary industry, the team at Blue managed to capture a MICHELIN Star within its first year of opening.


The exquisite creations of the Blue by Alain Ducasse team. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)
The exquisite creations of the Blue by Alain Ducasse team. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)

“The MICHELIN Star means everything for a chef. It’s consecrated,” said Hocquet, who attributed much of his success to his team. “We worked a lot, and we sacrificed so many things, like time with family and friends, just to do what we love. It’s a bit overstated, but we really think about this every day. The MICHELIN Guide recognition is just amazing for us.”

When asked about his cooking philosophy, the Southern France native explained, “I don’t really have one besides trying to make people happy. We’ve incorporated great values from Alain Ducasse like respecting the product and trying to improve every day. We improve the guest experience, the capacity to be happy at work, and the management. I guess to always improve is my main philosophy. That, and also to respect the seasonality of the ingredients.”

“The passion for food is in the DNA of the Thai people. In the streets, people queue and eat on the sidewalk. It’s amazing.”
Chef Wilfrid Hocquet and Manuel Montana, President & Managing Director at Michelin East-Asia & Oceania. (© MICHELIN Guide Thailand)
Chef Wilfrid Hocquet and Manuel Montana, President & Managing Director at Michelin East-Asia & Oceania. (© MICHELIN Guide Thailand)

Creating French dishes in Bangkok has its challenges in terms of seasonality. “You never know which countries you can get products from even when you try to source the best ingredients,” said the chef. “You have to deal with the fact that you are in Thailand, so you can’t get everything. We do try to follow the French seasons, but we are lucky to have Australia and Japan nearby.”

However, being in Thailand also has its benefits. The chef settled into his life in Bangkok and found charm in the Kingdom’s food scene. “Of course everyone will talk about the street food in Thailand. I think the passion for food is in the DNA of the Thai people. In the streets, people queue and eat on the sidewalk. It’s amazing. It’s easy food. It’s not expensive. The variety of food is incredible, and the food is amazing. I mean, it inspires me that you can make dishes without all the elements of the MICHELIN machine, just simple food on the street.

“I have many favourite spots in the city. Besides going to French bistros, our team loves simple food, for instance at Ruby Wine Bar in Soi Convent. What I really like is taking the team to taste different Thai seafood restaurants. It’s not that expensive, and you can enjoy many different dishes. I also love to just pick up some moo ping (grilled pork skewers) or go to Thonglor to find mango sticky rice. It is part of how I educate myself on what is the best of the best places.”

“Our patience, dedication, and attention to detail are the real reasons we achieved our success.”
Pastry chef Max Boonthanakit and executive chef Wilfrid Hocquet. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)
Pastry chef Max Boonthanakit and executive chef Wilfrid Hocquet. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)

Being in Thailand this year came with a few more challenges, as the country halted international flights. We asked how the restaurant was able to cope. “Well, we closed!” Chef Hocquet recalled with a laugh. “But we did reopen again. Without tourists, we had to change our menu pricing to fit the local market. We did a smaller, more approachable menu and extended our hours for customers.” 

By far, Blue was not alone in making major changes, and the chef was pleased to still see many of his peers at this year’s MICHELIN Star Revelations.

“Of course, I was happy to see all the nominations. I know how much dedication it takes to get here. I am very happy for Chef's Table as they moved on to their second MICHELIN Star. Even with COVID-19, we still have great restaurants like Sühring or Le Normandie who can aim for Three MICHELIN Stars. I feel next year will bring more surprises. The worst is behind us, we just have to go through this period.”


A private corner overlooking Chao Phraya River. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)
A private corner overlooking Chao Phraya River. (© Blue by Alain Ducasse)

Showing some optimism, the chef continued, “I mean, I don’t wish for anyone to close their restaurants down, but there are places that are not as professional. I feel that for our category, you need to have very strong people behind every restaurant. So, with other places closing down, I feel it reinforces the standards a bit. When the tourists come back, I think it’s going to be even better because we kept a big pool of good restaurants. And we see a lot of new Bib Gourmand and MICHELIN Plate as well as Star recognitions, so I feel things will be even better.”

Restaurants in the industry often experience a shift in customer base when they first achieve a MICHELIN Star, but this French chef doesn’t see his daily tasks changing much. “I don’t think the Star will change the way we run the restaurant in any way. The Star is really a result of all we are. Hopefully, we can improve even more and train ourselves to operate at the highest level of precision and dedication. Maybe at that point we would then be able to reach for our second Star.”

When asked why he believes Blue received its One MICHELIN Star, the chef joked, “Because we deserve it!” With a light-hearted laugh he continued, “Actually, I think it’s a lot of work behind the scenes every day. I mean we don’t decide if we would get recognised — we just try to do our best, and the inspectors decide for us. I think our patience, dedication, and attention to detail are the real reasons we achieved our success.”




Hero photo: © MICHELIN Guide Thailand

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