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Alain Ducasse

30 March 2021
A preacher of authentic taste

The insatiable multi-starred chef now roasts cocoa and coffee. He explains us why.

As a frequent traveller, do you usually take a tasty box with you?

I do not travel with anything. Recently, I was initiated to vegetarian food in a Kyoto temple and the tasting of silky tofu flavours on a fine sesame purée was a true privilege in this contemplative atmosphere. Tasting exceptional foods is my wealth and I am lucky enough to do it… around the world.

You started off at Gaston Lenôtre to become a pastry chef?

Yes, absolutely, but I quickly switched to being a chef. Incidentally, I met Pierre Hermé – who was then 14 ears old – and I knew from the start that he would be better than me when it came to pastry!

Sweet versus savoury?

The key word is de-li-cious. Be it sweet or savoury, the bite you take has to enchant the palate.

Your mascot flavour?

Bitterness. And, in a more general way, savours with a certain fullness.

A childhood souvenir?

I was raised in the South of the Landes. My bedroom was just above my grandmother's kitchen. Scents came before taste. I relished the fragrances that arose from the kitchen as of 11.30 in the morning. My DNA for taste is in the South, from the Atlantic to the south-West Mediterranean, where it remains anchored.

A favourite dessert?

Choux à la crème. The contrast between the perfect baking of the choux pastry and the mellowness of the cream delights me. I hate the crisp wafer on the choux pastry. It usually serves an aspect that is too perfect, which becomes a model, and does not add anything to the textures that I love. Pastry should have its snags, it should be telling the story of the craftsman behind it and show a human character. I would rather have less choice, but be sure every cake has been made on the day.

A sweet recipe?

You will soon learn about it…

What would you do preferably at teatime?

Take a break: hot chocolate, brioche and grated chocolate of my own.

If you were a sweet?

A superb praline.

A sin to be shared?

The love of good food is not a sin any more. Sin, to a chef or a pastry chef, would consist in moving away from authentic flavours. The fact that anyone can express himself around the world, perceive and share the produces of his own land in a different way, is a true asset of this planet.

From magazine "Desserts" Spring - Summer n°11

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