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At Le Meurice, Paris, five exceptional chefs, five dishes, orchestrated by Alain Ducasse – the perfect way to celebrate French gastronomy
“Alain Ducasse has an idea every minute,” says an admiring Gilles Pudlowski, author and CEO of Guide Pudlowski – a worthy member of the French restaurant industry elite.
And so hardly surprising that Monsieur Ducasse, who, at the time of writing, helms 30 restaurants worldwide, gathered together super chefs Dominique Lory from Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse, Monaco; Jean-Philippe Blondet at Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester, London; and Kei Kojima from Beige Alain Ducasse, Tokyo– to cook together with Le Meurice’s Michelin **star chefs Jocelyn Herland and pastry chef Cédric Grolet – producing an haute-gastronomie “ten hander” lunch, closely observed by their spiritual master – looking on like a proud as a peacock father.
The spectacular Restaurant Le Meurice, reworked by Philippe Starck, inspired by the Salon de la Paix at the Palace of Versailles, boasts shimmering crystal chandeliers, bucolic wall frescoes, iconic Eero Saarinen Tulip chairs, designer stools for the Birkin, decorative screens and a sculpture capturing the suspended movement of water.
On the exceptional lunch and wine pairing menu: Marinated scallops, bergamot and delicate seaweed consommé from Jean-Philippe Blondet (Alain Ducaase at The Dorchester) with Condrieu “La Berne” 2017 – Domaine Fury; Alain Ducasse Saké – Junmai Domaine Nakamura – the perfect match for oven-cooked carrots and turnips, soft abalone by Kei Kojima (Beige Tokyo); Delicate Mediterranean sea bass / fennel and citrus fruits from Menton by Dominique Lory (Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse) with the excellent Bellet (white) Le Clos – Clos Saint-Vincent. Herland, Le Meurice Executive chef, sent out Venison, lardo di Colonnata, pepper sauce matching it with Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 – Piedlong Domaine du Vieux Télegraphe.
And dessert? “Spotlight on the pistachio” by Executive pastry chef Cédric Grolet (50 Best Restaurants Pastry Chef of the Year 2018) whose sell-out haute-couture pâtisserie boutique sits on rue Castiglione adjacent to Le Meurice. There were also chocolates by Alain Ducasse La Manufacture paired with a sip of sweet syrupy Rivesaltes Ambré- Domaine Gardiés.
“It’s all about the pleasure and conviviality – the shared moments that are so precious,” agreed the band of chefs.
“Yes, there were tensions in the kitchens while we were cooking but we’re used to that – with five chefs and their Master – in one space that’s a lot of egos!” they admit. “A lot of adrenaline”.
“At the heart of the restaurant is our dedication to celebrating the essential nature of every ingredient. This results in delicious dishes of great subtlety, created with simple produce. From here the journey begins…” smiles Monsieur Ducasse.
Le Meurice, 228 rue de Rivoli, 1st. Metro: Tuileries. Tel: +33 (0)1 44 58 10 55
Lead photo credit : Franka Holtmann, GM Le Meurice, Gilles Pudlowski, Alain Ducasse & friend. Photo: Margaret Kemp