It’s a beyond-busy travel schedule, more flying than some pilots. Before he arrived in Las Vegas this month, chef Alain Ducasse was in Monaco, Paris, London and L.A. Then after his one-day stop here at his restaurant Mix atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay for the 6th Annual Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit, it was on to Tokyo.
Alain is the first chef to own restaurants with three Michelin stars in three cities. He has 19 prized Michelin stars and keeps up the frenetic journeys to visit his 30 restaurants in Beirut, the Caribbean, Tokyo, Monte Carlo, New York, Hong Kong and Mauritius, among others. The itinerary is at least 10 months of the year.
“It is my job to travel,” he said. “I control the restaurants I visit. I always eat the food there. I taste it all. I say hello to every one of my cooks to ensure everything is good. I say hello to all my guests to ensure they are happy.”
I used to have a travel schedule just as crazy, so I asked what he did with all that time in the air. I learned that’s when he has a whole other career that’s just as big and important. Alain is a book publisher, and not just of the 27 culinary masterpieces he’s managed to author in the air, but other chef’s works, too, including his pal chef Joel Robuchon’s newest book “Robuchon’s Best Recipes,” a collection of his 10 best with step-by-step instructions and photos.
Alain told me: “I like books. I like to publish my own books. My new one ‘Nature’ is my 27th. I write down all the ideas and outlines on the plane. Not the actual recipes. When I’m in Paris, I push my team to finish the recipes and to develop my ideas I’ve written on the plane.”
What’s incredible is that Alain also has published four of the biggest books on food, encyclopedias all more than 1,000 pages and each illustrated with 750 recipes and 750 photos. It takes nearly two people to carry each tome.
“These were really hard work,” he laughed. “The first one took 25 years because it was my life’s work. ‘Nature,’ with 190 recipes, is simple, healthy and good for you even though it’s another 360 pages. It was time to return to the bare essentials and regain the pleasure of cooking the simple vegetables, grains and fruit that are key to a healthy and balanced diet. It is my role as a chef to bring people back to the tastes of nature because to eat well is to live a better life.”
International chefs are unanimous in their praise of his new masterpiece, and fans were lined up at Mix for autographed copies. Alain held a Vegas Uncork’d session titled “The Nature of a Good Party” serving tasty morsels and drinks to illustrate his key points.
I asked him what really makes a great party? He replied, “The mix of your guests, your friends, good food and good atmosphere. Good harmony between the atmosphere and your guests. Good wine pairing and ingredients are important for a fantastic dinner. You’ll have a good buzz to finish if you’ve had great food and wine, a good smile, good noise and good music throughout the time of the party.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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