A unique combination of modernity and traditionalism is probably the best way to describe Yannick Alléno who is following his own concepts for haute cuisine, ranging from the experimental (Cuisine Moderne) at his 2 Michelin star 1947 in Courcheval to the traditional in Terroir Parisien in the left bank of Paris and another one planned at Palais Brongniart on the right bank.
Starting at a young age of 15, Yannick Alléno, seemed to know even then about his destiny with cooking. Spending all his time with the best of chefs in his youth, he now lays claim to the well deserved title of ‘Prince of Palaces,’ as a member of the elite circle of the world’s greatest chefs.
“Giving emotions is my only challenge” – the quote, by itself, sums up the chef’s passion for cooking and his desire to serve the best. And this dedication and pursuit of excellence is there to see for anyone who tastes his ‘creations.’ Cuisine Moderne has become the focal point of his life.
With his French looks and his culinary talent, it’s fair to say he does not blend into the background. Taking centre-stage seems to come naturally to him and he is readying himself to ‘break the rules of French cuisine’ and to take a stand for liberty and culinary creativity.
The dinner that he hosted at One&Only The Palm recently, had most of us begging for more. The presentation and his explanation (the women seemed to love his French accent) were just the right preparation for the moment of truth, and what a moment it was! Endless delicious, divine moments… but, as happens so often in life, the night had to end.
His creations are connected to food but they do extend beyond. A chef with an eye for art and design, Yannick says, “I want to sign a new lifestyle which restores timeless codes, which gives them a new lustre, a new splendor and a new flavour.”
To get a sense of his artistic bent of mind, you may just need to see ‘The Baby Chair,’ one of the many innovations one can find in Courchevel. It is a unique baby chair so that babies can, as well, enjoy their little delicacies. Designed by Sybille de Margerie, it enables kids to enjoy their little delicacies.
This collection includes, amongst other things, ‘Cookooning’ (A special porcelain container for maintaining food temperatures) designed with Sylvie Coquet and ‘The Carbon Tray’ (A lightweight tray which can take as much weight as a regular steel tray, but only much lighter).
As if this was not enough, the man’s co-edited ‘4 Seasons at Table Nº 5’ and ‘101 Creations,’ written the ‘Alpines Tapas Cook’ and in 2010, brought out ‘Terroir Parisien’ together with Jean-Claude Ribaut. It’s a gallery of portraits of products and farmers, 75 of his best Parisian recipes, all illustrated with photos, and a newspaper on the history of the Parisian terroir.
He has also launched YAM, the magazine specially for chefs and ‘Ma Cuisine Francaise,’ a mythic culinary book which is sure to be seen as a reference for French cuisine everywhere, once it launches in November. We are sure the journey will continue and we are not complaining!
It’s never fair to ask a chef about his favourite restaurant, so we asked him to tell us about STAY by Yannick Alléno at the One&Only The Palm. With a menu based on French gastronomy, bourgeois menu or gastronomic menu, spit-roasted dishes, pastry ribbon and meticulous methods, it has the chef’s signature all over it. Yannick quotes, “STAY is a fruitful and inspiring challenge, and guests can enjoy a real French gastronomic experience.”
When did he know he wanted to be a chef? “Well, forever, I guess!,” he replies with his trademark smile. What’s very obvious is his connection with his French roots. A thorough Frenchman, he has a passion for Parisian produce and his views are clear from his quote from a blog… “We lost a lot of products in the past few decades, but we have already restored some almost vanished things such as certain types of beans, figs and artichokes de Paris. However, I am not some sort of Food dictator – I don’t want to restrict people in using produce from outside the region, as it has always been an integral part of Parisian dining. We currently use approximately two thirds local produce which is already the highest in Paris, but we would like to bring that up to 80%. I already have 70 or 80 products from the region, but I want more.”
Trying to delve deeper into his mind, we try and check what is it that makes him so passionate about food. “I want to push up the emotion of cuisine. I found a new place to begin extraction in Paris, to capture the essence of different meats and vegetables. We are, in fact, working in a similar fashion to wine makers to produce a Grand Reserve wine. The idea is not to remove the actual physical food from the menu, but to enhance it.”
The risk of being considered ‘normal’ drives him harder to explore the art
of cooking further. He adds, “Racking
up the emotional experience of a meal is very important for me – the dinner has to speak the truth and put across the expression of the ingredients. The old formula of starter, main course, dessert, simply doesn’t make sense most of the times. Being a part of
the crowd is a scary proposition.
If one doesn’t experiment, then I
would say his time is over. Haute cuisine, at present, follows the same usual story, which runs the risk of making it too predictable. It is time
for me to do something else.” And we will be watching you, Chef Yannick Alleno!
While he is busy trying to find a way to raise the emotional experience of a meal, we suggest you try out some of his recipes…