Pierre Gagnaire, 3-star Michelin, Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Merité and Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, is returning to his roots. “At 52 years of age I am the last apprentice of Jean Ducloux”, he reveals. “It is going to be a very big adventure!” Chef Jean Ducloux is 84, has 2-Michelin stars and is a legend in his own lunch-time — part of French gastronomic history. His restaurant, Greuze, at Tournus, Burgundy is a national treasure. “A conservatoire of French tradition, a gastronomic shrine”, says the Red Guide. “Hardly in harmony with the TGV and the internet, but visit Greuze before it’s too late”, begs GaultMillau. Now because of Gagnaire’s passion, you’ve got at least another 50 years!
It was no secret, for some time Greuze has been à vendre, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse were interested, but Ducloux wanted Gagnaire to take over his pianos. He intends to retire very slowly thus teaching Gagnaire the finer points of his signature dishes. “There’s an enormous nostalgia for these dishes”, thinks Gagnaire. Although you would hardly imagine the two chefs are on the same wavelength, so different are their cooking styles, and remember Gagnaire is consultant chef at Sketch, the state-of-the-art London restaurant. Ducloux does not do “Swarovski” nor would he give a toss for Marc Newson, Gabban O’Keefe, Mourad Mazouz or any of the other maverick designers involved.
So, no, Gagnaire is not leaving Paris, when he’s done his time with Ducloux (on weekends) he’ll train his own team. “The dishes will be identical, we will change nothing”, he promises. “We’ll perpetuate the cult of a grand chef, respected by all; if I can participate in preserving this culinary heritage I will be the happiest of men”, says Gagnaire. Ducloux, an extraordinary man, is worn out now by all the administration problems of running a restaurant. “We served with the same Master, Jean Vignard at Lyon, and although you see my dishes as contemporary and unorthodox, they are based on the classical cuisine of my formation”, explains Gagnaire.
The son of a pastry chef and grandson of a confectioner, Jean Ducloux began his culinary apprenticeship in 1933 with Henri and Paul Racouchot at Les Trois Faisans, Dijon, then worked with Alexandre Dumaine in Saulieu (now Restaurant Loiseau). He learned to make couscous in Algeria before honing his skills in various Parisian restaurants. The war intervened, preventing him from achieving his dream of being a cook on board an ocean liner! After the Liberation, he returned to his native Tournus and created Restaurant Greuze, in honour of the town’s famous artist. When he bought the maison, a few years later, he became one of the first great chefs to be proprietor of his own establishment.
The great and the good have beaten a path to Greuze where countless celebrities have signed the visitors’ book at this shrine to food. For fifty years Ducloux — far from striving for innovation at any price — has remained true to his culinary heritage, preparing his great classic dishes with undiminished passion. Pâté en Croute Alexandre Dumaine, Pike Quenelles Racouchot, or the signature Sautéed Bresse Poulet Jean Ducloux. Hardly surprising then, Ducloux loves traditional recipes and full plates, to the great delight of his faithful clientele.
Three cheers for Gagnaire – at least Greuze will never become a Buffalo Grill!
6 rue Balzac, 8th
T: 01 44 35 18 25
Métro: Etoile/George V
Rue Albert Thibaudet,
T: 03 85 51 13 52
And it seems that the rumours were true, Marc Marchand is leaving The Meurice. In his place Yannick Alleno, winner of a silver Bocuse award, trained by Louis Grondard chez Drouant and recently at Les Muses in the sous-sol of The Hotel Scribe where he has 2 ** Michelin.
228 rue de Rivoli, 1er
T:01 44 58 10 09
Valet Parking at the hotel’s main entrance, rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tuileries Garden.
Guarded public car park Place Vendôme.
The ever elegant Claude Terrail is handing over the management of La Tour d’Argent to his son André. “I never wanted to take over from my father, I really wanted to be an actor”, admits Terrail snr. Now he tells us!
La Tour d’Argent
15-17, quai de la Tournelle, 5th
T: 01 43 54 23 31
Maxim’s voted best restaurant in Europe by Traveller.
3, rue Royale, 8th
T: 01 42 65 27 94
Lenôtre opens (27th May) their new maison dedicated to gastronomy with a cooking school, boutique, and café with chic terrace: Pavillon de l’Elysée.
10 avenue de Champs Elysées, 8th
T: 01 42 65 85 10
Métro: Champs Elysées Clemenceau.
Alain Cirelli (ex-St. James Club, Ducasse trained) is now chez Natacha “chic central for the fash-pack”.
17 bis rue Campagne Première
T: 01 43 20 79 27
GAULTMILLAU Magazine No.1 Avril-Mai 2003. 3.90€ at your favourite kiosk now. And it’s worth it.
Bon Appetit…..A La Semaine prochaine