Since 1987, the Louis XV - Alain Ducasse restaurant menu has been a constant source of creativity and surprise. Emmanuel Pilon and Alain Ducasse put on a faultless performance. For Alain Ducasse, each dish tells a story and each recipe is an inspiration. An interview with an extraordinary chef, artisan, aesthete and set designer.
What is your philosophy?
Alain Ducasse: For me, everything starts with taste. The tastes of my childhood forged my culinary compass and I owe my vocation to them. The search for the right, authentic taste guides my work. It is my obsession with taste that lets me constantly discover new products and meet those people - farmers, market gardeners, breeders, fishermen - who dedicate their lives to working the natural environment to get the best out of it.
How do you see the profession?
A.D: I am lucky to be surrounded by an outstanding team: Franck Cerutti, Dominique Lory and my pastry chef, Sandro Micheli, without forgetting Noël Bajor, sommelier and, of course, Claire Sonnet, floor manager. They have worked with me for many years! They fully share my vision of cooking and hospitality. It includes the need to pass on our know-how and beliefs, which is a long process but key to ensuring customers enjoy an exceptional experience.
What is your fondest memory of Monaco?
A.D: The day His Serene Highness, Prince Rainier III, announced that he was going to entrust me with the catering of Hôtel de Paris and Louis XV. It was in 1987 and I was 31 years of age; the challenge was exhilarating. Then, 24 years later, His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II, asked me to prepare the dinner at his wedding to Miss Charlène Wittstock. The meal, inspired by the wonderful character of the Mediterranean region, was a very emotional moment. The 25th anniversary of Louis XV in 2012, which brought together more than 240 Michelin-star chefs from around the world, is also a fond memory!
And the three Michelin stars?
A.D: I remember how my team erupted with joy when we found out that the 1990 Michelin Guide was going to award three stars to the restaurant, Le Louis XV. Our bet had paid off! A few days later, His Serene Highness, Prince Rainier III, very kindly had lunch at the restaurant with his children to celebrate the event.
What makes Monaco magical?
A.D: I am always amazed by the light of the Mediterranean that awaits me in Monaco. It is a unique place, at a crossroads between the French and Italian Rivieras, and a very welcome moment of peace in a hectic life. When I go into the kitchen, I immediately and always focus on our role: to be as close as possible to perfection to offer a moment of joy to our customers. As part of my job and in Monaco, in particular, I am also fortunate to be able to meet many other great people connected to this line of work. Nevertheless, meeting farmers undoubtedly leaves the greatest mark.
What is the nicest compliment that somebody could pay you?
A.D: That my cooking is just right, like a tailor-made item of clothing. We go to great lengths to make sure all of the meal’s ingredients are in harmony. I am not just referring to the dishes served: harmony requires the tableware, wine, decoration, service and all of the elements that contribute to the customer’s experience to be coherent. Harmony between what is on the customer’s plate and around it, a balance between the place and the moment: this is what I understand by the word, harmony. Consequently, I am touched when a customer notices it.
Alain Ducasse's favourite object
“The notebook. I always carry a notebook with me in which I jot down ideas for dishes, comments on the products I taste or the producers I meet.”