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

Hello! Middle East - - THIS WEEK -

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.

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