Ducasse on his new culinary school & wife's "terrible" cooking
With 21 restaurants around the globe Alain Ducasse has plenty on his plate. But a few weeks ago, the chef decided to venture in a new direction, opening a cooking school for amateurs on rue du Ranelagh in Paris. A few days before its debut, while on a one-day trip to New York to attend the James Beard Awards, the somewhat curmudgeonly culinarian sat down at his midtown bistro, Benoit, to answer a few questions—with a little help from a translator.
Why a cooking school?
I wanted to give non-professionals a chance to share in my passion and have a place to share my knowledge. It’s a really unique facility, with four beautiful kitchens and a cellar for wine tasting. We’ll offer cooking classes in different skill levels as well as instruction about wine and the art of hospitality.
Will you be teaching yourself?
No, but I have a team of chefs who were previously in my restaurants, all with excellent experience. The head chef is a very handsome 30 year-old Frenchman, Romain Corbiere, and I chose him specifically for that reason—because then the women will come! I organized a casting.
What is your best advice for home cooks?
You should cook what you’re comfortable with, what you know how to do, otherwise you’re better off buying a sandwich. Don’t try to cook restaurant food at home.
Do you cook much at home?
I have a kitchen at home that is so well equipped I could open a restaurant there tomorrow. But I only do very simple things, like cook vegetables from the garden, because my wife is a terrible sous chef. So I’m going to send her to the cooking school!
Do you ever make mistakes cooking at home like the rest of us?
Of course. It happened just last week. I was talking on the phone and all of a sudden the pot was black. I had to throw out not just the food but the pot itself. Cooking requires attention. You can’t be talking with your sweetheart and cooking at the same time.
Where do you like eat in New York, other than your own places?
One favorite is Peasant. Frank [De Carlo], the owner, invested all of his passion and energy into this restaurant. It’s his own unique vision.
Classes, which run half or full day, range from 165 – 330 Euros
For more information, see ecolecuisine-alainducasse.com