Yannick Alleno The Michelin-starred French chef is on a Mission to reinvent the world of food Interview: Matthew Priest
restaurant is like a baby You have to take close care of a restaurant because every day or month or year there is a new challenge. I have three restaurants in Dubai (Stay by Yannick Alleno, Zest and 101 Dining Lounge and Bar) and I visit them about four times a year to completely redo their menus. They are hardly recognisable from the ones that opened three years ago, because every time I visit I get to know the market more and more, and I make improvements. I am always a cook at heart I try my hardest to stay in my kitchen. It’s what I love to do. There are two sides to my business: the food and the money. Luckily my business partner looks after the money side of things so I can concentrate on the food. It’s a pretty simple equation: If you don’t have good food, then you don’t get good business. It is very important to stay focused on the things that matter.
IMAGE: Owen Franken/Corbis
To be a good cook, you have to be curious Being a cook is like being a painter – it’s either in your blood or it isn’t. It is very tough to know why some people have it and others don’t, but I always say that you have to try everything. I was 15 when I first started out as a cook, and it takes a very long time to become a good one. Only now do I believe that I am a good cook.
I hope to create something lasting It is time to develop a new style of cuisine. The idea of Nouvelle Cuisine is now 40 years old – there is nothing ‘new’ about it anymore. I want to start pushing cooking into new whole new directions and I believe to do that, you have to start from the sauces. I have been working on new techniques that allow me to extract the full flavour from ingredients and infuse them
in water. From this I can work with purer tastes and have more control over dishes by making things less fatty and salty without compromising taste or health concerns. I am calling it Cuisine Modern. It is just at the start, but I wanted to push myself to make an impact on the future of food. In the kitchen, consistency is key The thing a chef must never forget is just why they are there. They are there to work for the customers – it doesn’t matter who the customer is. You need to treat every plate like it was for a Michelin inspector or the Prime Minister. The Michelin Guide is still important Michelin’s star ratings are perhaps more important for the customers, as ultimately they can see the level of quality that they
are likely to receive at certain restaurants. I believe that those standards are something that is worth protecting. The Gulf’s first starred restaurant The level of restaurants in Gulf region is exceptional. The business ideas, the kitchens – it won’t be long before someone here is awarded a Michelin star. The untapped potential of Dubai Dubai is a very special place, because it has become a global hub. Because there is a mix of so many cultures and nationalities, the food has the potential to develop into something that we have never seen before. It is the beginning of a new history of food. I think we will see something completely new coming from this region within the next 20 years.
Super starred Alleno continually proves that he is one of the world’s very best Le Meurice Although has recently left this classic Parisian restaurant, Alleno’s decade as the head chef brought with it the heady heights of three Michelin stars. Cheval Blanc Tucked away in the idyllic French ski resort town of Courchevel, Alleno’s restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars in just its first four months. STAY Consistantly voted as one of the Gulf’s best, dining at Stay (pictured) is more than enough reason to drive out to One & Only, The Palm – or take the boat.