Alain Ducasse is our new hero. This world-renowned chef recently created a meat-free menu at the famed Paris hotel Plaza Athénée’s restaurant. Combining his famous culinary skills and his passion to preserve this earth, Chef Ducasse crafted a number of different meals that feature vegetables, cereals and fish as their main event. Not many chefs are able to pull off a meat-free menu but Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is an undeniable success. We were honored to get the chance to sit down with this brilliant man and learn about his inspiration and his amazing career.
While I began to think about the new menu in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée, I realized that it was time to take an extra step. I needed to demonstrate that we can make fine food with vegetables, cereals and fruits.
BWB: You became a visionary when you introduced a meat-free menu/option at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. Can you talk us through this decision process?
This decision was actually the result of an idea I had a long time ago. While working at the restaurant “Le Louix XV” in Monaco, I immediately decided to propose an entirely vegetarian menu called “Jardins de Provence”. It was 1987, and I wanted to pay homage to the marvelous vegetables of the Riviera. At first, the vegetarian menu was chosen by every one in twenty clients. Over time, however, it gained more and more attention. At the same time, the question of how I could help preserve the planet felt more and more crucial to me. I have always been very sensitive to the topic, probably because I was the son of a farmer; to me, it is obvious that we need to think about how the earth is cultivated. My job as a chef taught me early on that we can’t make good food with mediocre products. While I began to think about the new menu in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée, I realized that it was time to take an extra step. I needed to demonstrate that we can make fine food with vegetables, cereals and fruits.
I wanted to show that it was still possible for people to enjoy food even when their meals didn’t include animal-originated protein.
BWB: How does one go about educating people so that they can discover the benefits – for your health but also for the planet – of a reduction in their consumption of meat (especially red meat)?
I believe in the value of setting a good example. I wanted to show that it was still possible for people to enjoy food even when their meals didn’t include animal-originated protein. It is much more efficient to teach this by proving it myself, so I began to use different products.
BWB: What are some of your favourite vegetarian meals?
I propose some in a series of cooking books that I named “Nature – Simple, Sain et Bon” (“Nature – Simple, Healthy, and Good”). My favorite recipe is “the Cookpot of vegetables”.
BWB: What are some of your favourite foods at the moment?
I always love seasonal products! Especially ones cultivated locally.
Bright and clear eyes, pink or red gills, adherent scales…these are all good signs of fresh fish.
BWB: For fish, what are some of your recommendations to make good choices?
First, avoid threatened species and privilege small boat fishing. Then consider the freshness. Bright and clear eyes, pink or red gills, adherent scales…these are all good signs of fresh fish.
BWB: What are some other changes that you do in your daily life to preserve the environment?
Like with cooking, I don’t like wasting food. There are so many ways to use everything. For instance, always use carrot tops and even potato skin!