Six Michelin-star Chef Yannick Alléno has done to French cuisine what The Beatles did to rock ‘n’ roll in the early ’60s—enthuse fresh life into it. Meet the king of sauces. By Shikha Pushpan
When Chef Yannick Alléno founded Modern Cuisine in 2013, the culinary world celebrated the Renaissance of French cuisine. Five years and six Michelin stars down, the chef recalls where it all began. “From the age of eight, I knew I wanted to be a chef. Food is a family tradition; my parents managed small bistros in the Parisian suburbs, and that’s where I was fi rst introduced to the kitchen and absolutely fell in love with it. At the age of 15, my father wanted to check if I really was made for this profession, so he asked the legendary Chef Gabriel Biscaye to fi nd me a job at the Relais Louis XIII with the celebrated Chef Manuel Martinez. Biscaye told my father: if he resists, you can shelve your doubts. I resisted.” The rest, as they say, is history.
KING OF SAUCES
Having worked with some of the most renowned French chefs—Louis Grondard, Roland Durand,Martial Henguehard, apart from Biscaye and Martinez—Alléno represents a league of modern chefs who are revolutionising French cuisine with their technological innovations. “Reinvent or revisit are words that do not really exist for me. I’d rather create new things,” says Alléno, who is also called the ‘King of Sauces’ for his patented technique called Extraction. “Sauce is a verb in French cuisine, and has always been a part of its DNA. A sauce makes eight per cent of a dish because it brings together the different elements on the plate and creates coherence and harmony. I have reintegrated it in my cuisine, modernising it with Extraction® and accentuating it with fermentation.”
MAKING IT COUNT
Alléno is considered a tough taskmaster. “A cook is someone who masters fire and the art of cooking.” This, he says, comes with traditional education. “Of course, you need to have instinct and creativity, but your brain, your inventiveness is like a muscle that one can develop. For me, talent is 90 per cent hard work.”
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Is there a dish that makes the chef go weak in the knees? “Yes! Sushi. I absolutely love Japanese gastronomy and I have been to Tokyo around 30 times. If ever, I had a last trip to do, it would be to taste sushi at sushi-master Jiro Ono’s restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, or ask Chef Hachiro Mizutani to return from retirement and make me one last dish.”