Yannick Alléno joined the exclusive circle of the world’s greatest chefs since he was awarded three Michelin stars for his work at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris in 2007. Elected Chef of the year by his peers in 2008, his talent lies in reinventing dishes from traditional cuisine, using the finest ingredients and local products with a combination of classic and modern inspiration. Since then, Yannick Alléno continues to demonstrate he is a challenger, always looking for unique creations. Perfectionist and passionate about food, Yannick Alléno presents a gastronomy which is considered a true art form. Gifted with a strong and creative culinary identity, Yannick Alléno is now one of the greatest chefs in the world, on which gastronomic history will have to lean on. Nowadays, the multi-starred-chef manages sixteen restaurants around the world, included Alléno Paris – Pavillon Ledoyen and 1947 at Cheval Blanc, Courchevel.
What inspired you to get into this business? Share some of your mentors and how they have helped you.
As far as I can remember I have always wanted to cook and be a cook. My parents used to own bistros in the suburbs of Paris; they obviously passed on their passion to me! They also taught me to work hard to get what I want and that you cannot accomplish a thing without rigour. I am thankful towards my many mentors; I have definitely learnt from the best. Six of them were Meilleur Ouvrier de France: Manuel Martinez, Gabriel Biscay, Roland Durand, Martial Enguehard, Jacky Fréon and Louis Grond and they have share everything with me. On a separate note, Paul Bocuse has had a major impact in my career; he has always kept a benevolent eye on me and his advices were each time accurate and useful.
How has your cuisine evolved since you started and how do you think it will change in the future?
For the last 25 years I have tried hard to relentlessly learn and improve. Now I feel free to explore new territories, assert myself and deliver a more personal cuisine. I really want to part from what we have done for decades and offer a true modern cuisine, one that fits our contemporary needs and desires; a brand new approach to the culinary arts in which the research is fundamental. This Modern Cuisine would lay the foundations of an evolution of French cuisine. Needless to say the program is ambitious, but I take my time and work every two years on a pillar which compose, for me, these foundations of French cuisine. Therefore, in front of each fundamental pillar, I do try to propose a modern way and a new path to work it on. Thus, we have started with our work on the sauces with the creation in 2014 of the revolutionary process of Extractions®. We just unveiled our second step with a second book which is a brand new understanding of what a terroir means in cuisine thanks to fermentation; and I have already started working on our next topic. We still have so much more to do!
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a successful chef?
Work, work and work hard. Our aim is to offer a flawless and very consistent gastronomic experience to our guests. Nothing pleases us more than when they really enjoyed their moment with us. Still, that does require a full commitment and a lot of hard work to achieve. And with work comes creativity. Each of us, we need to have our very own signature, truly unique, distinctive, and of course modern to match our age; otherwise it would be boring. As time goes by, more than transmission and pass down that have been essential to me, I also feel I need to do more and give back.
“Today our highest motive is to leave a trace, open on new territories, create something new and above all help the future generation understand creation is key. We are working on a renaissance of French cuisine through a modern look at every fundamental pillars of gastronomy; it is endless, but we are a little stubborn.” says Yannick Alléno.
Every life takes its own direction, influenced by a unique pattern of decisions and circumstances. Yet, we are driven by many different kinds of motives, some self-serving and some aimed at purposes beyond the self. What moves you to make the important choices that shape your behavior and, ultimately, the directions of your life?
You are right, people are inhabited by different things, most common are money, power, or the need to be loved… for some of us, passion and creation are fuel for a different life, I guess I’ve been lucky enough to be fed by creation and cuisine. However, it is true that I’ve also met my business partner who took care of the business so I could stay focus on my work and passion. In 2008, I met Florence Cane; without her, nothing we have achieved so far could have been possible. She has always been essential and on a daily basis she helps me shape the future. Today our highest motive is to leave a trace, open on new territories, create something new and above all help the future generation understand creation is key. We are working on a renaissance of French cuisine through a modern look at every fundamental pillars of gastronomy; it is endless, but we are a little stubborn…
How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
I am still working so I am with them at all time, every service. I think that is very important to maintain that bond; they know they can count on me and I know I can count on them. Being a team is beyond rewarding actually. And each times things toughen up, they see me roll my sleeves up to face the phase with them; we are strong.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Never give up. Actually, I love when Einstein said “If you never failed, you’ve never tried anything new…”
Suppose you were hosting this coming Saturday night. And you could invite anyone you wanted. Dead or alive.
Which four would you invite to come over and why?
I’d be eclectic and would mix the talents to hope for a lively moment! I would invite Alain Chapel and Jean Delaveyne, two of the best French chefs, Erik Orsena for his unparalleled joie de vivre, Roger Federer for his major achievements, Charlize Theron for her ability to transform for a part, Brian Johnson from AC/DC to rock things up, my two sons and Florence my business partner for she is the funniest person; assuming my wife is with us indeed!