Alain Ducasse: “I am on probation, as much as it serves to follow my convictions to the end”

Alain Ducasse bursts into a hubbub of hammer blows and drill whistles. At the beginning of September, at Sapid, its new address focusing on plant-based cuisine in the heart of Paris, workers are polishing the decor. But their noise symphony does not seem to bother the entrepreneur, who displays a conquering smile.

Barely turned the page of the Plaza Athénée, the palace where he defended gourmet excellence for twenty-one years, here he unplugged a staggering number of new projects in the capital: Sapid, therefore, but also a street ice cream factory. de la Roquette, an ephemeral restaurant (ADMO, at the Quai Branly Museum), a confidential bar near the Palais-Royal … At 65, the most starred French chef continues to frolic.

That morning, he left a conference with the Best Craftsmen of France and is already preparing to join the school he opened in Meudon to welcome some of the best Peruvian chefs for a master class. During the interview, between two coffees, the “high-speed chef” agrees to a stop, obviously greedy, to talk about his philosophy, always focused on naturalness, and the background of his departure from the Plaza. The opportunity also to wonder what remains of the “man of taste” behind the bulimic entrepreneur.

Here at Sapid, you want to defend a “nomadic”, “terrestrial” cuisine… What does it look like on the plate?

When I stopped by a few days ago to test the kitchen we had worked on, I tasted the watermelon and roasted tomatoes with hazelnut praline. Then the quinoa salad with roasted summer vegetables…

With a glass, I ate for 25 euros a perfectly cooked cuisine seasoned with fruits, vegetables, cereals, grown by seventeen producers that we have selected. Here, almost everything is extracted from the plant. We work with less than 5% animal protein, extracted from the sea, from sustainable fishing, like when we put sardine cubes on a crunchy salad.

Is it an extension of your work on “naturalness”, based on vegetables, cereals, fish?

Yes. When we initiated the concept, with my colleague Romain Meder, at the Plaza Athénée, in 2014, I told him from the start that our final vocation was to spread naturalness in the street, to feed as many people as possible. And to make this healthy, vegetal cuisine, with less salt, fat and sugar, an accessible cuisine.

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