Travel & Gourmet

Why is "Ducasse" in Plaza Athénée different?

Monsieur Alain Ducasse is unbeatable: over 30 restaurants across the globe with more than 20 Michelin stars that is the world’s record. And there is no other person like him and… like his restaurant in legendary Parisian hotel Plaza Athénée, awarded with 3 Michelin stars. Why? The secret is very “Natural”.
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Photo Credit: Dorchester Collection

It’s all about the concept of Naturalité. But let’s start from the beginning.

In 2014 Alain Ducasse was living a “specific” moment: after many years of brilliant operation, his restaurant in Avenue Montaigne’s establishment had been suffering from loss of its 3rd star. Such a moment is a terrific nightmare kind of situation for any chef and Ducasse was not an exception. But this difficulty made him change his mind about his grand restaurant in Plaza Athénée where, under the light of the chandeliers in tables covered with perfectly ironed tablecloth, foies gras and lobsters were served. Ducasse was immersed into the millions of thoughts and doubts about the future of this restaurant, but at the end has managed to surprise even himself with what came out to the “surface”.

 

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Photo Credit: Dorchester Collection

“To eat more healthily and naturally is today both an expectation and a necessity that must be translated into the field of Haute Cuisine. Exceptional produce expressing their simplicity, a technique which has the elegance to take a step back to their benefit. This is the cuisine I sincerely love . Cuisine of Naturalness - Naturalité, released, freed. This very personal interpretation is indeed, here, in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée," - this is how Alain Ducasse presented his brand new idea to the media and clients. This was a breaking moment of his career signing a new epoque of his empire’s evolution.

As a concept, Naturalité is nothing else than a trilogy of fish, vegetables ( coming from Versaille’s Palace Le Jardin de la Reine greenhouses and gardens) and cereal, with a specific meaning: eat more healthily while respecting the planet. Ducasse comments: «There is an absolute necessity to go towards a better way of eating, in harmony with nature, healthier and more environmentally friendly».

Meat is excluded from the menu and even though at the beginning it was “Upon request” for the clients who used to eat it at this restaurant, now this option has disappeared completely.

 

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Photo Credit: Pierre Monetta, Dorchester Collection

Humble but exceptional and rare, long-forgotten or barely disappeared products. Long time research and studies. Modern techniques and ancient methods at the same time. Luxurious wooden tables and glassware but no more tablecloth. This is the game of contrast which Ducasse consciously implements here to showcase that in life and in cuisine it’s all about knowing how to pair and to match completely different, at a first sight, things and learning to enjoy them.

For this idea, in 2014 Ducasse called a chef Romain Meder to help him in developing the Naturalité concept. Having worked previously for Monsieur Ducasse in Spoon des Iles in Mauritius, Meder also prepared the opening of Idam restaurant in Doha, and then been introduced to Naturalité becoming the new Executive Chef, and all this under 36 years old.

In the team, as well, there is Jessica Prealpato - a head pastry chef who joined Ducasse in 2015. From that year, Jessica has followed the guidelines of the Naturalité and created… Desseralité - a concept of low-sugary sweets, with a raw visual, sometimes made from unpredictably salty ingredients which perfectly continue the line of natural and essential cuisine of Ducasse in Plaza Athénée.

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Photo Credit: Dorchester Collection

However, still, what is so special in this Naturalité? Why did it re-gain the 3rd Michelin star? Became the restaurant n.16 in the guide The World’s 50 Best Restaurant?

Maybe, because this concept is not about business and profit, fashion or entertainment, it's not about comfortable eating with no sense and it’s not chasing all the awards possible… It’s even not about impeccable service, perfect wine list, opulent sale or an unforgettable time spent here (that is sincerely true)...

It's, first of all, about food for the soul ( sounds equally as the non-profit organization of Massimo Bottura - one of the Ducasse’s most successful alumni) which fills you with the purest natural energy while you are tasting their creations.

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Photo Credit: Pierre Monetta, Dorchester Collection

As well, it’s about food consciousness and education. It’s about responsible consumption and right alimentary habits and behaviour. It leaves a sign, it makes you grow, think, make considerations and reflect on many things. It can change your mind.

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is the Fine Dining of the Future, sensible and educational one, with a strong mission and a message, which is remodelizing both whole the scene of the Fine Dining restaurant business and also the individual’s life, making it more conscious and Natural.

 

Aline Borghese

 

The author Aline Borghese is an international journalist and critic of haute cuisine.

She graduated from the culinary schools of the Ritz Escoffier, Ecole de cuisine Alain Ducasse, La Cucina Italiana. Champagne and wine sommelier, cocktail enthusiast, gastronomic consultant and simply Bohémienne Affamée.

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