8 Avenue Dutuit,
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Yannick Alléno often tells an anecdote. As a child, he’d listen to a programme on radio where they asked children to send a letter to a star. Father Christmas, Michel Platini, in those happy and revolutionary days, it might well be some child wrote to Mao as well.
Young Alléno wrote his letter and asked to meet Paul Bocuse: «He’s always been my Zidane». On the 26th January 2018 at the funeral of Monsieur Paul, Alléno was sitting in the front row in the cathedral of Saint-Jean in Lyon, close to Ducasse. They were two of the 1500 uniformed chefs who arrived to say goodbye to the father of French cuisine. Not just a maestro, but a brotherly friend and a counsellor often met on public or private occasions.
Bocuse and Alléno were more than friends. Their liaison is between two generations of French cuisine, between the father of Nouvelle cuisine and the author of a revolution that gives new rules to French sauces. Indeed, according to Alléno «in cooking, sauces are like verbs». They give structure, movement, power and this could work as the sparkle from which the grand saucier at Pavillon Ledoyen could start a new era for the grand table du monde.
The restaurant, on the Champs Elysées, got the third star in 2015. Then Yannick Alléno once again charmed the most beloved and dreaded Red Guide in France in 2017, the year of the consecration of 1947, the restaurant inside luxury hotel Cheval Blanc in Courchevel: five tables seating 22 people with a menu ranging between 127 to 450 euros.
A double charge of adrenalin, yet the chef with the physique du rôle ladies are so fond about had already experienced this: he got the first three stars at Le Meurice, an establishment he abandoned in 2012 with the goal of conquering Paris in a kitchen of his own. Said, done and done again.
Today Alléno has 17 restaurants around the world, from Marrakesh to Dubai, from Beijing to Taipei. He has founded bimonthly magazine Yam (Yannick Alléno Magazine) which sells 25000 copies, and the most important publications refer to him as the “Le prince des palais”, or simple the roi.
He appreciates Nordic cuisine but loves Italy (he spends his family holidays in his house in Tuscany) and Italian cuisine, mostly because it’s capable of «making every food great: it’s impressive how you can make marvels with the simplest and poorest ingredients. It’s the opposite of French cuisine, which mostly uses noble ingredients». Yet to him, French cuisine is «the cuisine of truth».
I love extractions, of coconut, beer, liquorice. But his goal, on which he’s worked with determination with Bruno Goussault and the scientists at the Centre de recherce et d’ètudes sur l’alimentation in Paris is rediscovering sauces. He even wrote a book on the topic: "Sauces, reflections of a chef" (2014).
The evolution compared to the great sauces of the past? Cooking at very low temperatures and concentration in cold conditions, so that the water is reduced while the flavour stays the same. It’s based on the idea that: «Heat destroys, cold preserves», another pillar in Alléno’s philosophy.
Future projects? Climbing up the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best where he appeared in 2017 with Pavillon Ledoyen, straight to number 31. Pas mal.
A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's author for Repubblica, Gambero Rosso, Dispensa
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José Gomez, Eneko Atxa and José Gomez junior, co-authors of the eighth edition of Joselito Lab, on Thursday 17 November at restaurant Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, in the Basque Country, 3 Michelin stars
The complete team from Yannick Alléno’s Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris: three restaurants, two stars (three for Alléno Paris, two for L’Abysse, one for the new Pavyllon, which we visited)
Joselito pigs roaming free in the dehesa. The famous Spanish brand of ham turned 150 years old