Back to ba­sics

French chef Alain Du­casse goes for pu­rity over pomp in cui­sine.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FOOD - By EMMA CHARL­TON

LOOK­ING out over his global em­pire of gourmet restau­rants, star-stud­ded ta­bles reach­ing from Tokyo to the Eif­fel Tower, French chef Alain Du­casse de­cided this spring it was time for some­thing new.

So he took the menu of the Plaza Athe­nee, the flag­ship three-star res­tau­rant that graces the lux­ury Parisian ho­tel, and de­cided to strip it back to ba­sics – in what he be­lieves may her­ald a rad­i­cal new food trend.

“I want to re­mind peo­ple of the taste of bread and but­ter,” Du­casse told AFP over a seven-course tast­ing ses­sion in the kitchens of the five-star ho­tel, on Paris’ ul­tra-chic Av­enue Mon­taigne.

“The best bread, toasted just so, and served with but­ter at ex­actly the right tem­per­a­ture,” he en­thused, wolfing down slice af­ter fra­grant slice of the thick, crusty bread sourced from one of the cap­i­tal’s best boulan­geries.

Pro­duce – bought in the right place, at just the right time of year to en­sure peak qual­ity – is at the heart of the new menu, un­veiled re­cently to the ho­tel’s elite in­ter­na­tional clien­tele.

“We are defini­tively go­ing to get back to es­sen­tials,” Du­casse said. “There are no ac­ces­sories – just like a very beau­ti­ful woman does not need ac­ces­sories.

“We are are no longer in a cui­sine of pomp and cer­e­mony. There will be more lux­ury in the decor, but more pu­rity in the plate.”

Du­casse’s new dishes – “Veal, Car­rots” or “Veg­eta­bles, Fruits” – sound a far cry from the po­etic elab­o­ra­tion that de­fines gourmet menus the world over, and nowhere more so than in France.

“Our mod­est am­bi­tion is to set a new gold stan­dard for veal, duck, beef,” said the chef. Chef Alain Du­casse is de­ter­mined to make sim­pler but tasty cui­sine. Dishes of no more than three in­gre­di­ents will aim, he said, to “de­fine the essence of taste. Cui­sine has be­come too com­pli­cated – this is about sub­ject, verb, ad­jec­tive: duck, turnips, sauce.”

When a cus­tomer or­ders beef he will be brought a two-foot rib, un­adorned, to the ta­ble, from which to choose his slice.

To give his new con­cept shape, Du­casse brought in Christophe Sain­tagne – who has spent over a decade work­ing for him, and the past two years over­see­ing his ta­bles in France, Bri­tain and Ja­pan – to take over the Plaza kitchens.

“We wanted to make the cui­sine sim­pler, more read­able – not cui­sine for the sake of demon­stra­tion,” said Sain­tagne.

As an ap­pe­tiser Sain­tagne served up two poor man’s dishes – strips of smoky pork lard and mea­gre fish, served side by side on cubes of al­most-burned bread, in a fold of red-and-white butcher’s paper.

In re­cent years Du­casse has been best known as an en­tre­pre­neur-chef, with more than two dozen ta­bles around the world col­lect­ing star af­ter Miche­lin star – of­ten earn­ing the sug­ges­tion that he spreads him­self too thinly.

But in the past Du­casse has been cred­ited with launch­ing food trends that later went vi­ral, like the re­vival of Mediter­ranean-style cui­sine in the mid-1990s.

At the Plaza, he said, “we had a beau­ti­ful ma­chine, but it was just snor­ing away. I don’t know if peo­ple will like it, but the road I want to take may just be the start of a new trend.” – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.