Let’s start with some numbers. Twenty-four individual restaurants in nine countries across three continents. Three separate three-Michelin-star restaurants in three cities. Twenty-five years of the flagship Louis XV restaurant in Monaco, prompting an anniversary gathering of some 240 chefs from all corners of the globe. Multiple appearances on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. A career spanning well over 30 years. All stemming from just one man.
Alain Ducasse is one of the world’s most successful, influential and respected chefs and restaurateurs. Born in south-western France’s Les Landes region 56 years ago, Ducasse has embarked on an extraordinary culinary journey, which is rooted in his native land but has seen him travel the globe both seeking and spreading culinary influence and inspiration.
His portfolio of restaurants is notable not only for its consistently high quality and global reach, but also for the range of styles contained within it, from ornate fine-dining rooms to casual bistros, from bastions of classical French cuisine to experimental multi-ethnic concepts. Ducasse is an international chef in every sense.
And the empire continues to expand: last year saw the team’s first foray into the Middle East with the opening of IDAM in the stunning Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar; this spring it débuts a new concept in the Byblos Hotel in St Tropez, called Rivea.
However, this is not just a very successful businessman, but also a hugely imaginative chef and passionate mentor. In the often traditional world of French gastronomy, he has broken down barriers, championed progression and explored culinary cultures, while respecting history. “The future of cooking in part rests on our diversity.
Each chef has his own specific emotional territory – and it is this difference that makes the wealth of the ensemble,” he says.
Ducasse and his team have nurtured and trained a generation of chefs, many of whom are now also part of the world’s culinary élite. What’s more, it is on this sphere of education and knowledge-sharing that the energetic entrepreneur aims primarily to focus in the future.
“We must attract talent and guarantee continuity. Mentoring is about the transmission of knowledge,” he says. Backing such words with action, Ducasse oversees two cooking schools – one of which, the École Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux, is acknowledged as the world’s premier pastry-chef academy.
In direct reference to the chef’s insistence on and championing of making everything from scratch, the company recently opened its own artisanal chocolate-making facility in Paris. Called La Manufacture, it creates premium chocolate products all the way from bean to bar.
One final number: this Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by the 900-plus industry experts who make up the Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. As such, it is testament to the deep respect in which Alain Ducasse is held across the restaurant universe.