Back to school with Alain Ducasse
ACCORDING TO world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse, “Knowledge is nothing if not shared.” Which is why, no doubt, he created a sensation with the opening of his culinary school in Paris in 2009, offering the public access to his expertise.
The school offers a wide range of courses, with cooking a means of social interaction and self-fulfillment. “Sharing knowledge is not just sharing for the sake of it, above all it is sharing to keep knowledge alive,” says Alain. “We have to open our doors to all those that love cooking. Make them learn, smell, feel and understand what goes on behind the scenes before those tasy dishes arrive at the table.
“Cooking is not just learned from books, it is experienced in practice. Gradually mastering all the preparation and cooking techniques through careful practice. We have endeavoured to create a programme in tune with the times, one that is open to other types of cooking and one that can be tailored to different levels of learning, in a modern and friendly space fitted with professional equipment that is easy to use. Experience and expertise are the very fibre of our culinary school, adapted to individual wants and needs.”
The school draws its strength and difference from a team of chefs who put the ‘Alain Ducasse’ know-how into practice, bolstered by experience and their own, special teaching methods. “I’d rather my students leave with less information, but full command of the knowledge they have gained,” says Julian Mercier (pictured above, right), the school’s ‘chef des chefs’.
Classes are for everyone, at every level, and most importantly, for all tastes. For beginners, for example, the object is to take the heat out of the kitchen and prove how easy cooking can be, by providing students with the tools they need to be able to apply at home what they have learned at school.
Having worked at Benoit in Tokyo, Julian Mercier has evolved with the ‘house spirit’ and flavours for over a decade at the school. Asked what sharing means to Alain Ducasse, Julian says: “It’s his hobby horse. He injected us with his desire to share our knowledge with communicative energy. It’s a bit like showing we’ve got nothing to hide, and everything to give.”
Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse
64 rue du Ranelagh, 75016 Paris
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The Paris Convention and Visitors bureau, its local partners and Atout France kindly sponsored my trip.