Alain Ducasse: “My new business now is biscuits” | Fortune

He is the chef who has accumulated the most Michelin stars –20 in total– in the world. He manages some thirty restaurants in 11 countries, and a network of 500 hotels and restaurants in Europe called Les Collectionneurs and Ecole Ducasse. Alain Ducasse (Orthez, 1956) is in Marbella to participate in the graduation of the last student promotion from Les Roches School of Hospitality, where he received the Hospitality Golden Key Award for his contribution to the history of hospitality, culinary arts and education. In fact, the chef, who has just opened a campus in India, belongs, like the international hotel school, whose headquarters are in Switzerland, to the Sommet Education association, through which he has expanded the knowledge of the.

The interview takes place at the Anantara Villa Padierna hotel, whose director, Mexican Jorge Manzur, received the famous chef with high honors. He says that they offered him a lunch at a table in the middle of the field, that he required a exhaustive research work to find out his preferences: they served him marinated mackerel, they improvised a small vegetable market in which Ducasse chose the products with which to make a salad, which they accompanied by a salmorejo with shrimps, Cinco Jotas ham, urta with malagueña salad. a typical dessert of the area, Spanish wines and Dom Pérignon 12 years sipped and very cold. He enlivened lunch with a guitarist, a prelude to his favorite music, a recording by the pianist Helene Grimaud.

He assures that he feels more like a businessman than a chef.

I am more focused on bringing vision to the business, and on a day-to-day basis I have chefs who take care of serving the restaurants I manage. I am the artistic director of the entire group, the one in charge of marking where we go.

You are the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, how important is it to you?

I have more restaurants and businesses without a star than with her. The stars give you visibility, they are important, but so are the other activities that I develop. The stars are like haute couture, but I also do prêt-à-porter. We have projects that benefit from that visibility.

He plans to open a biscuit shop in Paris.

We are in the testing phase with cookies, and we are going to start by opening a store in the Opera Bastille, next to the chocolate and ice cream store. I like to go little by little with this type of business. In 2014 I opened a chocolate boutique with a workshop where everything is made, and now we have 30 stores around the world. I like to control the quality of the entire manufacturing process of each bonbon we make. And the same thing happens with cookies.

Where are you in this process?

When looking for the best flour, we pay attention to the origin, to how the wheat is grown and milled, we work to find the ideal granulometry, to have the best butter that comes from a breed of Normandy cows. The goal is to get everything I have imagined around the cookie. And I want to have full control over the brewing process. That is why it is important to know even the type of cow with which the butter is made. That allows you to achieve excellence.

Do you plan to open a business in Spain?

No, there is too much competition in Spain.

Do you fear the competition?

Yes, when the level is high. However, I like to open businesses quietly, without rushing. I am focused on the biscuit business, as well as ice cream and chocolate, what I call peripheral products.

Are they more profitable than haute cuisine?

It is more profitable, but it is not easy because the manufacture, the elaboration is laborious to do because it requires a lot of work. Despite all the craftsmanship involved, it is more profitable.

Would you open a biscuit shop in Spain?

In Spain the taste is different, people like sugar more than in Paris, so it is not among my projects. In Southern Europe they like products with more sugar than the recipe I propose, and I have no intention of changing it.

In Spain there is a problem with the lack of staff in the hotel industry.

I think it’s something universal, it doesn’t just happen in Spain. With Covid no one wants to work so many hours anymore, and that is the reason why schools are created, like Les Roches or mine, to train people with a vocation and to be able to work in what they like. The lack of professionals is something positive for our educational activity. It is one of the most pleasant sectors to work in, because you are in contact with clients, you cook for them and you can work in different countries. There are many job opportunities and it is a sector that will once again be attractive to professionals.

What advice would you give to recent graduates of Les Roches Marbella?

I would tell them to anticipate the needs of consumers, to think about how they are going to serve customers. Customer expectations must be analyzed and anticipated. It is important to be curious, to be attentive to the evolution of society in order to feed and seduce it.

Do they have professional opportunities?

It is a sector with work. All the graduates of the schools have job offers for any part of the world. We give the training that is needed to be able to work.

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