WEDNESDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2012 ALAIN DUCASSE & THE LOUIS XV 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Alain Ducasse and the 25th Anniversary of the Louis XV Restaurant
Last weekend I was fortunate to be a guest at a most extraordinary event. After six weeks of intensive filming for my new BBC tv series, I was exhausted! But, instead of a rest, my wonderful PA Leanda had arranged for me to fly to Monaco for the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Alain Ducasse's restaurant the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo!
The Louis XV restaurant in Monaco (at the Hotel de Paris, owned by Le Société des Bains de Mer), is probably the landmark of total excellence when it comes to food, to Mediterranean terroirs and luxury. And the Hotel de Paris is the most extraordinary gilded palace. Yet Alain Ducasse has managed to create within the restaurant the most welcoming environment and the most extraordinary food, supporting all the local producers: the fish from the sea, the artichokes from the mountains…
What an event! Alain invited more than 240 Michelin starred chefs with over 300 stars between them, plus many food critics for a whole weekend of celebration, with television channels there to record the event. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many friends: all of us together, so much conviviality. And Alain took the opportunity to pass on some strong messages: the first was humble and full of humility. he declared himself to be the servant of world gastronomy. He said that each country, each country's gastronomy can and must have its own character, its own provenance, its own values. He acknowledged that chefs must take care of issues such as sustainability values, of traceability. That chefs are the keepers of an eco-system and have a huge responsibility.
Alain & his brigade truly are the masters of Mediterranean food, and the whole weekend of celebration was bathed in Mediterranean sunshine throughout. On Saturday, an extraordinary market was created at the Hotel: the very best of local produce displayed with love and splendour: it showcased a display of fish, vegetables, breads, cheese and wine, with some of the chefs making dishes that they had invented for the occasion using local ingredients.
The grand dinner on Saturday evening was exquisitely served to more than 400 people: it was was both regional and refined. Sliced raw baby vegetables of the area, including fennel, eggplant and spiny artichoke served with an olive paste. Small shrimp, from San Remo were served with a seafood and coral aspic and a dollop of superb Chinese caviar. Then spelt with tiny artichokes and white truffle. Local fish — red mullet, scorpion fish, John Dory, sea bream, tiny squid and octopus, in a light fishy broth. Then a small pastry filled with game birds and chard, with a salmis sauce, vegetables and a truffle salad. A dessert of cooked apple and wild quince, with an ice cream made with cream from local cows and a touch of salt. And for those who could manage it, chocolates and a hazelnut shortbread.
The wines were equally superb: Dom Pérignon Rosé Champagnes from 1995 and 2000, a Dom Pérignon from 1993, Cheval Blanc 2004 and Château d’Yquem from 1988. We were certainly spoiled on this occasion!
The guests of honour were, of course, the royal family of Monaco: Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene, and Princess Caroline. To see so many guests in their finery was a magnificent sight.
The savoir faire of Alain's brigade of chefs, and the masterful service were impressive indeed. We must not forget, as Alain said "that France is still a mighty force in gastronomy: French tradition, and French training, remain the foundation of haute cuisine all over the world".
Thank you to Alain and to all those who made this such an extraordinary weekend.
Paul Winch-Furness website: www.paulwf.co.uk
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
DVD of Raymond Blanc's hugely successful five part series - The Very
Hungry Frenchman - broadcast on BBC2 earlier this year, is now on sale.
To purchase your copy from Amazon, please click on the link below:
If you would like a signed copy of the DVD, this can be ordered via Le Manoir's website. Please click on the link below and request a signed copy in the 'special instructions' box at checkout:
Follow Raymond Blanc on Twitter
Contact Raymond via the Contact page of the website