How To Spend It

Style | The Aesthete

Alain Ducasse talks personal style: Part Two

Further tasteful revelations from the Michelin-starred French chef.

February 10 2011
Alison Gunn

My style icon is Barack Obama. What an elegant, intelligent man; everything about him is considered and well placed. And he’s very good for the image of the US abroad.

The site that inspires me is the Verdon Gorge in Provence – it’s like a miniature Grand Canyon, and just as impressive. And, for its architecture, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar. IM Pei’s contemporary building is a unique interpretation of Arab civilisation – all its history is integrated in the design. I’m opening a new restaurant there next year, inside the museum, designed by Philippe Starck – that’s going to be quite a contrast of styles. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (+974-4422 444; www.mia.org.qa).

An object I would never part with is a dollar coin made into a keyring. It was given to me 20 years ago by a friend of mine, a lawyer, who is sadly no longer with us.

An indulgence I’d never forego is praline made by Nicolas Berger, my pastry chef at the Plaza Athenée restaurant in Paris. It’s a new recipe, blending almonds and hazelnuts, with just a very fine layer of chocolate on top. It’s quite crunchy, and very addictive.

A recent “find” is a little coffee shop in Kanazawa, Japan. The owner blends and roasts his own coffee – delicious. Also, a sushi restaurant in Ginza in a beautiful old house. Futaba Sushi, 4-10-13, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-061 (+8133-541 5344). Higashide Coffee, 42 Jikkenmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa (+8176-232 3399).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Monet. I recently saw a marvellous show of his work in Paris. What he painted was a dream of the French countryside. And Basquiat; a very different style but I like his work just as much.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Sushi Sho in Tokyo, where the chef is highly talented in the way he prepares and seasons the fish. Sushi Sho, Yorindo Building, 1F, 1-11 Yotsuya Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (+813-3351 6387).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city I’d choose Paris – but I’d like two areas. First, the Avenue Montaigne, with all the great fashion shops – I particularly like Loro Piana, near my office. But also I love the flea market (Marché aux Puces) in Saint-Ouen, where I am a regular visitor. Did you know that two of the markets [the Paul Bert and Serpette antiques markets] are owned by a British property company, Grosvenor? That was quite a shock for some of the stallholders. Loro Piana, 8 Avenue Montaigne, Paris 75008 (+331-5664 0600; www.loropiana.com). Marché aux Puces, 140 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen (+331-4012 3258; www.les-puces.com).

The grooming staple I’m never without is shaving cream from Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence. It’s very expensive, but you only need a tiny amount, and the smell is distinctive, unusual. Via della Scala 16, Florence (+3905-521 6276; www.smnovella.it).

If I didn’t live in London and Monaco the city I would live in is Paris. I would want somewhere high up with a view like the one from my restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Looking at the city from there, it’s like time has stood still. Le Jules Verne, 2nd Floor, Eiffel Tower, 75007 Paris (+331-4555 6144; www.lejulesverne-paris.com).

If I weren’t doing what I do I would be an architect. I’m always actively involved in the design of my restaurants; it’s something I have always been interested in. Or I would like to be a traveller, just roaming the world. Nothing else.

See also

Interview, People