Up Close and Personal with Yannick Alleno

The Multi-Michelin star chef reveals the secret to his success
ByJasmine BandaliTuesday , 03 March 2015
Up Close and Personal with Yannick Alleno
© ITP Images

During his trip to Dubai recently, Gourmet caught up with the multi-Michelin starred chef, internationally renowned for his meticulous French-inspired cooking throughout the globe, to talk about his rise to fame, cooking with speed and embarrassing moments!

Where did your passion for cooking begin?
My parents were managing brasseries near Paris and I grew up in that environment which led to an interest in cooking. I began as a child making dishes with my grandmother and my mum, who taught me how to create traditional French food and we would cook together for the whole family. From them I learnt about quality products and the importance of healthy food.

When did you get your big break?
My most memorable year was 2007 when I received the third Michelin star for my work at Le Meurice. It was the result of 22 years of hard work, passion and a desire to be the best all the time, and it also marked the beginning of a new life. After being awarded my second Michelin star in 2004, to receive a third was a dream come true. However, a third award is a tremendous responsibility and it’s now up to me to make it shine. It has made me want, now more than ever, to progress and perfect my cooking to make it a consistent experience for each and every guest, while still remaining creative and rigorously attentive to detail.

Have you ever had any strange requests from a diner?
The guest is the king. I am not static in my approach to food and am happy to adapt while still offering the best food I possibly can. If a client has a specific desire, I am happy to execute it.

How would you sum up your style of cooking in three words?
Parisian, modern and innovative.

What’s your advice for cooking a meal in a hurry?
If you cook with passion, I believe that a dish will always come out well. The best advice I can give is to use seasonal ingredients when you are short on time, as they will be flavourful enough to shine for themselves with the addition of a few herbs and spices. 

You have many restaurants around the world. What is your favourite international destination?
I would have to say Dubai. I love discovering new places and new dishes but Dubai’s culinary scene has developed and evolved to become a gastronomic destination. With so many luxury brands operating here there is a lot of diversity and it is all good quality. For me Dubai represents a crossroad of cultures between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

What is your favourite food?
I really love all kind of cuisines and I love to taste a lot because food from different cultures inspires me. However, when I am at home, I am pretty simple. Give me a plate if cheese and a glass of grape and I am very, very happy! 

Will you be creating anything special for Mother’s Day?
I always try to create a special dish, menu or dessert for this day. As yet, I’m not quite sure what I’ll be doing but it will be fabulous.

Amid all the awards and accolades, have you ever experienced a bad moment in your career?
I was speaking with Marcel Locquin a very famous French researcher, who I was meeting for the first time. He began talking to me about his passion for truffles and at the end of our discussion, I suggested he write a book about them as he knew so much. He looked at me and simply answered, “I have already written 36!” I felt very embarrassed.

How do you stay in shape when you are surrounded by food constantly?
It’s a hard job. I try to run a bit when I have time.

Which ingredient do you refuse to work with in your kitchen?
Truffle oil. It is completely forbidden in any of my outlets. Not only is it bad for your health, it’s also nonsense for the tastebuds! 

YANNICK ALLÉNO DUCK FOIE GRAS POACHED IN DUCK CONSOMMÉ, CELERY AND BLACK TRUFFLES 
SERVES 4
Try this decadent starter when hosting a fabulously delicious dinner party

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE POACHED FOIE GRAS

400g duck foie gras, cut into eight 50g slices

500g rock salt

FOR THE DUCK CONSOMMÉ

2kg duck bones (neck, wings)

150g white onions

150g carrots

100g leeks

3 garlic gloves, crushed 

1 sprig of thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

FOR THE TRUFFLE DRESSING

25ml red wine vinegar

25ml sherry vinegar

100ml grapeseed oil 

50ml truffle juice

A pinch of table salt

TO FINISH

40g fresh winter black truffles

200g celery root

150ml chicken stock

20g unsalted butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

1 Cover the foie gras slices with the rock salt for 30 minutes. 

2 Rinse under cold water, dry, then keep refrigerated until needed.

3 Mince the vegetables required for the duck consommé. 

4 Cut the duck bones into small parts and place into a large saucepan with enough water to cover them. 

5 Add the minced vegetables, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper.

6 Bring to the boil and then lower the heat.

7 Allow to simmer for two hours, skimming the surface often.

8 Strain the mixture through a cloth at the end of the cooking time and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator until required.

9 Prepare the dressing by combining a pinch of salt with both vinegars in a mixing bowl.

10 Add the oil and the truffle juice. Keep refrigerated until required.

11 Peel the truffle and finely dice into 3mm cubes. Place into 3cm cooking rings, keeping some aside for the garnish.

12 Repeat this process for the celery.

13 Gently cook the celery rings in a mixture of chicken stock, salt, pepper and butter, until cooked but still al dente.

14 In a separate pan, reheat the duck consommé and poach the foie gras slices for 3 minutes. 

15 Season the truffle rings with the truffle dressing then warm under a moderate grill. 

16 Arrange two slices of the poached foie gras topped with two rings of celery and one ring of the truffles. 

17 Garnish each ring with some of the reserved finely diced celery and truffles before serving. 

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