Five Minutes with Alain Ducasse

Words by
Sphere Editors

4th April 2023

Attention chocolate lovers! Alain Ducasse, the godfather of French cuisine, has opened Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse at Borough Yards, and this week, the shop’s new chocolate production site - only the third in the world - La Manufacture,  is open to the public too. We catch up with Alain as he perfects the space in time for Easter. 

My personal style signature isto never duplicate. Each one of my restaurants tells a different, unique story, according to where it is. This is what is the most exciting: to define and express the peculiar soul of a venue. That said, yes, there are some basic, common denominators such as the quality of the produce and the precision of the cuisine – the right cooking, the right seasoning, the right temperature.

I’m in London to…congratulate my team at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester on their work retaining the restaurants three Michelin stars. I’m also in London to support the opening of our first Manufacture de Chocolat here. This is our first ever chocolate production site in the UK, which is based in Borough Yards. The manufacture is the second chocolate production location in the world, following the first La Manufacture Alain Ducasse, which opened in 2013 on Rue de la Roquette in Paris.

Chocolat Alain Ducasse by Vincent Nageotte
Chocolate making at Chocolat Alain Ducasse.
Photograph: Vincent Nageotte

I like to be available for last minute, unplanned encounters rather than being bound to constraints... I want to make interesting talks last whatever it takes and I enjoy freely walking around a city. 

I discovered chocolate making when I was working with Michel Guérard, in the South-West of France, at the very beginning of my career... During the winter breaks of the restaurant, I worked with Gaston Lenotre in Paris. I was so fascinated by chocolate then that I seriously envisaged to become a pastry chef. A couple of years later, when working with Alain Chapel, near Lyon, during my free-time, I went to work to Bernachon, the famous chocolate artisan. Therefore, the reason for creating La Manufacture de chocolat is very obvious: this is an ancient dream that I wanted to realise.

Easter offerings by Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse
Easter offerings by Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse. Large 'Turned' egg, £51, small 'Turned' egg, £21, Praline easter eggs, £33 for four.

At Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse I always recommend people try… the generous pralinés we make. Carefully roasted, in small batches they are created with 60% dried fruit. Their strong flavors and unique textures have made them the new classics. Enjoy them in the Easter collection.

Whenever I come to London I stay at… I always stay at The Dorchester hotel where my London restaurant Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is located. The hotel is iconic and a London landmark.

My favourite typical London experience so far is… I enjoy walking around flea-markets. I’m a true antique hunter always searching for tableware and silverware.

Alain Ducasse
Alain Ducasse with raw chocolate beans

London has a wonderful gastronomy scene with many new and established places to try... when I’m in London I always try to visit chefs who I have mentored over the years from Alex Dilling, who has just been awarded two stars for his restaurant at Hotel Café Royal through to Clare Smyth and her restaurant Core.

If you’ve never eaten at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, I recommend the… the entire menu since is a well-thought-out voyage through French and British produce, from earth and sea. Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet and his team create dishes based on a philosophy and respect for the ingredients. Vegetables are the starting point for the dishes, with protein added later. The idea is for the plates to look alive and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes are all different shapes and sizes as nature intended.

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

My mission in my work today is I am the artistic director of Maison Ducasse Paris. I share my vision and ideas and work with my teams to bring them alive.

The highlight of my career so far has to be... there have been numerous experiences over my career but I see the future as much more exciting.

I don't carry accessories... the only thing I always have with me is a pen and a piece of paper. To note an idea or something I want to check or action.

My guiltiest pleasure is… Chocolate!  After all, it’s my job, isn’t?

Discover Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse