Alain Ducasse is a chef with a deep respect for nature and the rhythms of seasonality, indeed the grand master of French cuisine serves a vegetarian menu at his restaurant on Plaza Athenee in the 8th arrondissement, Paris.
However, the French chef doesn’t necessarily see meat substitute products like Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger being the solution for eating less meat.
Just a year ago, we saw the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) call for a 50% reduction in meat consumption to offset the manmade carbon emissions and deforestation associated with cattle farming.
In that time we’ve seen plant-based meat companies become the hottest IPOs of the year and the success of the synthetic meat seems to know no bounds.
Asked by Business Insider France about the future of food, the Michelin-starred chef said he is certain that in the future, "we will eat less meat but of better quality. We need to produce (meat), in a way that the planet will be less disturbed”, and the farmers will be paid “at a fair price”.
When asked about plant-based meat substitutes like Beyond Meat and their burger, the chef was less than enthusiastic, saying, “we still believe that we need it to look like minced meat, but we do not need that a vegetable hash looks like minced meat, it must look like a vegetable hash, period.”
For Ducasse, changing the way we eat, starts with education. “We need to change the mentality, including within parents’ menu committees for students in schools. There is no need to have animal protein four times a week. Less animal protein, better quality in lesser quantities, less fat, less salt, less sugar, respecting seasonality, fishing seasons, periods of fish reproduction etc.”
Insects are a viable solution for the protein needs of tomorrow according to Ducasse. "Yes, why not? We eat a lot of shrimp," he says.
“Shrimp are crunchy bits of the sea that jump everywhere, they’re like grasshoppers, a grasshopper is something to eat in nature, shrimp it's a crunch of the sea.”
These ideas and more of the chef’s vast knowledge will make up the curriculum in a new school socialising in the culinary and pastry arts to open in September 2020. The third Ducasse school will have the aim of reactivating French cuisine and French know-how.
During a press conference held in Paris on September 26th he recalled his vision of gastronomy as “a universe that cannot be dissociated from the responsibility of feeding the planet, the traceability of food, the respect of natural resources ... A savoir-être, a savoir-thinking of cooking, good to eat, good for the planet”.