Among the dominant personalities of the contemporary scene, Alain Ducasse is much more than a chef. In his countless restaurants around the world, he is able, as though in a dream, to be director, scriptwriter, set designer, leading actor, co-star, even critic and spectator. Such is the care that goes into every crumb of the dining experience, selecting his staff and ingredients like an implacable bloodhound, subjecting the maisons to regular visits, forcing his lymph into the least important areas of the menu.
An all-encompassing love of cooking, because the subject and setting of the dream change every time. From the corroborant local cuisine to the swamps of haute cuisine and the dynamic metropolitan concept restaurants, Alain Ducasse is everywhere and nowhere: the centre of a tourbillon crowded with stimuli, clients and sensation. The Mediterranean and, in this case, Italy, has always been among his passions and here in Italy he has become the mentor of great talents: some of those who have worked under his watchful gaze are Massimo Bottura, Carlo Cracco, Davide Oldani and Andrea Berton. Capable of assimilating his efficiency and organisation, his love of the product as well as his entrepreneurial skill. Because we’re talking about a third millennium Escoffier, founder of a new concept of cooking and restaurant catering capable of an unprecedented summa for future generations.
«For lunch all you had to do was go into the garden to pick artichokes, beans, tomatoes and peppers. They were the most beautiful vegetables in the world. And I went out to fish for eels, pike and goby fish. The only thing we bought was butter», he says, remembering the country Christmas in Lande, baptism of a philosophy of applied craftsmanship to which he has always remained faithful. After his apprenticeship at the catering school in Bordeaux and at the Pavillon Landais of Soustons, he tied on his apron by the side of Michel Guérard and Gaston Lenôtre, legends of nouvelle cuisine; Roger Vergé, who inoculated him with the Provençale virus of olive oil; and the unforgettable Alain Chapel. Ducasse later became chef at Terrasse in Juan-les-Pins, coup de feu after which we lost count of all the new openings. From Monaco’s Louis XV to the Parisian Plaza Athénée, and New York, Beirut and Hong Kong, the sun never sets on his restaurants.
Umbra di Perugia con residenza a Bologna, è giornalista e scrittrice di cucina. Tra i numeri volumi tradotti e curati, spicca "6, autoritratto della Cucina Italiana d’Avanguardia" per Cucina & Vini
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Left to right, Alain Ducasse posing in front of the Comandante's pass, Stéphane Petit, who will lead the Ristorante Alain Ducasse in Rome, and Salvatore Bianco, the Comandante's executive. All photos from Paolo Marchi
Salvatore Bianco and Alfredo Manzoni, chef and maître of the new restaurant Il Comandante at the Romeo Hotel in Naples