Fine Living | Diary of a Somebody

Alain Ducasse

The chef-restaurateur orchestrates staff meetings and place settings

Alain Ducasse

October 05 2011
Alain Ducasse

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

This morning I landed back in Paris. My day started at my culinary school in the 16th arrondissement; I like this venue, with its contemporary and very functional design and its interior garden. There is even a cellar for wine-tasting sessions. I opened the school a few years ago to offer culinary courses to amateurs – including children; their enthusiasm for cooking is really extraordinary. Together with the school’s chef, Romain Corbière, we planned new courses for the future, including whoopies, variations on soufflés and cupcakes.

I then went to meet with all the executive chefs and restaurant directors from my Paris restaurants. It’s nice, and productive, to meet with chefs and the front of house teams together as they should not work as two separate worlds – it is much more efficient to work as one team. The more regularly we meet, the happier I am. I like to keep these meetings very open and the agenda particularly flexible – it is important to get as much out of them as possible, but also good to share opinions and questions. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal; all subjects are reviewed, from recipes to personnel. We even sometimes invite suppliers to present their produce.

Then it’s back to my office for the afternoon. My PA prepared a huge pile of documents, which she literally ordered me to read. She’s right, since she knows this is not my favourite job! Fortunately I also had a much more exciting task to do, which was to look at the samples of tableware sent by various craftsmen. My desk rapidly started to look like a dining table, with all possible styles of dishes, cutlery and glasses, not to mention butter dishes and baskets for bread. As I looked around my desk, my mind really wandered, thinking when and where we could use this tableware and for which new project.

In the evening, I took my wife out for dinner. We went to Frédéric Vardon’s new restaurant, the 39 V (“V” for George V, the name of the avenue). Frédéric worked with me for many years; he is such a great personality and a fantastic chef. My wife had a sea bass with a bouillabaisse-style sauce, and I had chicken with mushrooms and crayfish. A very pleasant respite, and a delicious dinner indeed.

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