Alain Ducasse is a modern Chef, a company director, a team leader, a teacher, and one of the most popular and well-known chefs in the world.
Alain Ducasse enjoys legendary status in the world of gastronomy. With an extensive portfolio of restaurants all over the world, a series of cookbooks, a cooking school, a cooking consultancy, and more Michelin stars than most chefs would know what to do with, he is like a one-man industry that seemingly never stops. But it is his food at flagship restaurants like Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, that really sets him apart as one of the world’s best chefs.
For almost five decades he has been chasing perfection on a quest that has taken him through the ranks at a number of French kitchens as a young chef, to being the first chef to own three-Michelin-star restaurants in three cities. He developed a fascination with Provençal cuisine in the late 1970s while working at Le Moulin de Mougins, and went on to win his first Michelin star as head chef at La Terrasse at the Hotel Juana in Juan les Pins.
Shortly after receiving two Michelin stars at La Terrasse in 1984, Ducasse was involved in a plane crash in the French Alps, in which he was the sole survivor. He has described lying in the snow for seven hours, bleeding and waiting to be rescued, as dying without dying. The experience drove him on to find purpose in every aspect of his life. In 1987, as chef de cuisine at Le Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, he won his first three Michelin stars – making it the first hotel in the guide’s history to do so.
It was in Monaco that Ducasse developed what was to become one of his most famous signature dishes – rum baba. Presented under a silver cloche, the perfectly moist sponge is doused with fine and rare rum before being topped with a dollop of rich vanilla cream. Another classic Ducasse dish is the Cookpot de legumes de saison, which features his favourite seasonal vegetables, which remind him of helping out as a child in his grandmother’s garden. To celebrate 25-years at Le Louis XV, he created a dish of gamberoni from San Remo, with a delicate rockfish jelly and three generous servings of caviar.
His restaurant operation spans the globe, from Las Vegas to Tokyo. In 2007 he opened Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London, and by 2010 it had won three Michelin stars. He has restaurants in destinations as diverse as Doha, Beirut and Macau, and he spends a great deal of his time flying between them all to guide their progress and ensure the high standards that have become synonymous with his name. As such, it has been said of Ducasse that he was the first genuinely remote chef, turning management from a distance into something of an art form.
But despite the size and reach of his empire, Ducasse always remains true to his overarching philosophy of humanist cuisine. Although each restaurant in each destination is different, reflecting the unique aesthetic and energy of its place, they all have the same connections between nature and humanity. For Ducasse, it is the role of the growers, producers and chefs to build those connections, while promoting strong values of open-mindedness, tolerance, generosity and sharing.
In 2013, Ducasse was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the World’s 50 Best restaurants, sealing his place in the pantheon of great chefs. Indeed, for any young chef starting out in the world of restaurants, Alain Ducasse is a name that conjures images of the very finest haute cuisine in the most palatial of restaurants. What’s more, it is a name that will always be known for the tireless pursuit of excellence, a voracious appetite for discovery, and the ambition to fulfil great potential. But it is also a name that inspires chefs to cook in the right way, and with the very best of intentions.