Culinary heavyweight Yannick Alléno talks memorable meals and Michelin-starred menus, plus shares four exquisite recipes
Culinary enthusiasts cut a swathe to his gastronomic outposts; we talk to Yannick Alléno about mentors, memorable meals and making Michelin-starred menus
He’s the 49-year-old culinary heavyweight lauded not just by diners, but by his peers, who voted him number two in Le Chef’s 2017 poll of chefs at the helm of two- and three-star restaurants. Yannick Alléno is known for embracing new techniques, being able to reinvent classical French dishes and giving diners an experience rather than just a perfectly-prepared meal. We chat to the brains behind all the restaurants at the One&Only The Palm, including STAY by Yannick Alléno.
What was the last meal that truly wowed you?
I couldn’t possibly pick one! I am very fortunate to always be able to travel to several destinations and visit various restaurants; therefore, I have had the chance to taste various cuisines and wonderful dishes.
Most recently, I was in Italy and visited Restaurant II Riccio in Capri – it was a truly amazing experience. The restaurant ambiance and the selection of food combined with a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Naples was a sublime moment.
Do you have a dish that defines comfort food for you?
Pasta gratin, of course! It is my ultimate comfort food dish.
What inspires you?
Everything around me is an inspiration. A smile, a scent, the sunbeam, the smell of the rain falling on the bitumen. I am a curious person by nature and I love to create, which is why I make everything a source of inspiration for me. I enjoy playing with new and different ingredients, and incorporating new flavours or changing flavours to come up with unique recipes with distinctive tastes for my guests.
Who has shaped your career?
I’ve gained knowledge from a lot of people throughout my career. I have a particular admiration for the six Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Often shortened to MOF, a unique and prestigious award in France according to category of trades in a contest among professionals. The six who taught me everything are Manuel Martinez, Jacky Fréon, Gabriel Biscay, Roland Durand, Martial Enguehard and Louis Grondard.
Which chefs do you admire at the moment?
There are many sensational chefs in the market and I admire all of them, as being a chef is a role of ingenuity. I see a large global
dynamic coming up especially in the younger talent and it is essential to observe them and learn from them.
Are there any restaurants you would love to try but haven’t yet?
I would like to discover Alinea in Chicago. The restaurant has been universally praised for its innovative approach to modernist cuisine; being the only restaurant in Chicago that has thrice been named the Best Restaurant in America and one of only 12 in the US to earn the coveted Michelin three-star rating.
Your desert-island ingredient would be?
I would choose the potato, an ingredient that is easy to grow and is very nourishing. It’s something I use in many of my dishes that are available at the culinary outlets at One&Only The Palm, Dubai.
Have you had a chance to eat out much in the Middle East yet?
Of course! I like the food of the Middle East and I make sure to always try and taste new things during my visits. It is amazing how many international chefs are here in Dubai, bringing their own touch and art of living to the gastronomic scene in the city.
Are there any dishes or ingredients that have inspired you over here?
The Middle East is at the crossroads of the world. We feel a large ethnic intermingling here; a lot of mixed cultures and the food scene is constantly evolving. This wonderful city is really an intersection between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, which brings great potential to create and be inspired.
There is an exceptional Indian influence in the Middle East as well with all kind of spices available. Needless to say that dates, with the majority produced in the Middle East, play a major role in this culture. I have been inspired by these unique ingredients and incorporated several of them in my menus at One&Only The Palm.
Do you think there are trends when it comes to the culinary scene?
There is a return that I can see in France’s greatness, access to values, authenticity and history. I believe we are coming to the end of the experiential era when it comes to creating food. The food scene will soon have a shift and we will soon go back to the real ingredients and basic styles of cooking.
Is there one trend that you love – or one you
I don’t loathe anything. All trends are unique; there are the good trends and the bad trends. I like the good ones, whichever they may be.
Do you have any new culinary discoveries you can share with us?
In the French Basque country, there are a lot chefs who are doing a remarkable job. The only way to understand and experience these discoveries is by observing and tasting all of the dishes created by fantasic chefs such as Martín Berasategui and Ferran Adria, among others.
What cookbooks should be on every aspiring chef’s shelf?
Le Guide Culinaire of Auguste Escoffier should be on the top of the list. It is a true guide to modern cookery, a book that brings together the basics.
Are there any dishes that are distinctive to your Dubai menu?
At STAY by Yannick Alléno, we have an actual, living and abyssal cuisine. All the dishes answer a real wish for authenticity. Every dish we feature in all our restaurants and menus across the resort in Dubai tend to be modern, sophisticated and a creative version of iconic French classics.
I am working on modern sauces and creating the revolutionary technique of extraction, revealing the true taste of a product ensuring that this is something that is highlighted in each of my menus here.
How has French fine dining evolved?
French fine dining has been modernised. We did a real work on those sauces – with sauces we can conjugate the French cuisine in the past, present and future. I believe sauces are the key to the evolvement of French fine dining.
How would you like to see the traditional three-course meal reimagined? Should it be?
Immerging trends have transformed food in new and unique ways. We are now transforming food in different ways to play tricks on the palate using elevated experiences combined with a modern attitude of cooking and an element of discovery to transform dishes.
While, there will always be room for threecourse dining, there are also tasting menus, like the one at STAY, which take guests on a journey of culinary discovery.