How did you get into the restaurant industry?
I was raised on a farm in the south west of France and surrounded by high-quality, specialty ingredients at a young age. My first restaurant job was at the age of 16, and from there, I had the privilege of working with famous chefs and restaurants including Michel Guérard, Gaston Lenôtre, Roger Vergé’s Moulin de Mougins. It was these early moments in my life that taught me so much about cooking and the restaurant industry.
What is your personal favorite dish at Benoit?
I love them all! I order based on what I’m craving and the season.
(Benoit, 60 W. 55th Street, NYC, Photo credit: Pierre Monetta)
How do you stay successful within such a volatile and competitive industry?
I always tell myself what I have and what I know is what I do. In other words, combining the genuine flavors of local ingredients with the experiences I’ve acquired has cultivated my passion and respect for a “terroir” state of mind wherever I am.
How important does the design/architecture of your restaurant play into its success?
I am no longer cooking in my kitchens, physically. I think of myself as artistic director of sorts – providing the recipes, the atmosphere, the interior design, the tableware, and managing the talent. All of these parts play an integral role in the story you’re trying to tell with any restaurant concept.
(Le Jules Verne, Paris, Photo Credit: Eric Laignel)
What is your life motto?
More, faster, better.
How important is location in selecting the creation of a new restaurant?
My main source of inspiration is the way people live. When I prepare the opening of a new restaurant, for instance, I spend a lot of time “wearing” the mood and mindset of the city and the neighborhood. The other major source of inspiration is the products and the producers. To a large extent, a cook’s talent is about upholding the qualities of the ingredient.
What is your go-to travel destination and why?
Peru. The Peruvian culinary landscape is incredible. The country benefits from a rich biodiversity of which quinoa and potatoes (but not only) are two emblematic ingredients. Gastón Acurio is leading a dynamic generation of cooks expressing the best of the produce and culinary traditions of the country.
What's next for the Alain Ducasse?
I’m publishing the ‘My 10 Best’ App collection featuring chefs like Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert.
(Photo credit: Pierre Monetta)