Alain Ducasse was born September 13th, 1956 in the Landes region of France, where he spent his childhood on the family farm in La Chalouse. In the valleys of the Louts and Luy rivers, he fishes for eel, pike and gudgeon. In the farm’s vegetable garden he learns the rhythm of the seasons. He feasts on tomatoes, artichokes, peppers and the fantastic local products of the region: porcini mushrooms, goose liver, preserves, pigeons. These formative years in his native countryside founded his preference for “the essential kitchen,” his cult of raw materials and his profound respect for the purveyors of pure and authentic local products. “You do not know where you are going if you don’t know where you’re coming from.”
His education as a chef started in classic fashion as an apprentice before attending culinary school in Talence, and continued at the spa Eugénie-les-Bains’ 3-star restaurant le Prés d'Eugénie, run by Michel Guerard, known as a precursor of the “Nouvelle Cuisine.”
In 1977, he quits his native Landes for Provence with its characteristic Mediterranean cooking, joining Roger Verge’s 3-star restaurant le Moulin de Mougins. From there, he moves to Mionnay in Auvergne, a region in central France with yet another distinctive culinary tradition where, at the 3-star La Mère Charles, he advances his mastery of Nouvelle Cuisine and his pursuit of perfection under his mentor Alain Chapel.
Returning to Provence, Roger Verge offers him his first position as Executive Chef in 1980, at the restaurant L’Amandier in Mougins. A year later, he becomes Executive Chef at La Terrasse in the Juana Hotel in Juan-les-Pins on the Côte d'Azur. Here he obtains his first 2 stars in the Michelin Guide in 1984. That same year, his career comes to a sudden and brutal halt: he somehow miraculously emerges alive from a plane crash, the only survivor. Seriously injured, he spends a year in hospital where he undergoes 13 operations.
Thereafter, the Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco, the management company operating the Monte Carlo Casino and Opera, invites him to open a restaurant at l’Hôtel de Paris de Monte-Carlo. He creates the Louis XV and earns, only 33-years-old, a 3-star Michelin rating. The Hotel de Paris is the first palace in the world to receive this distinction.
In 1998 he is again rewarded with a 3-star rating for his eponymous restaurant at Hôtel du Parc in Paris, which he took over from Joël Robuchon two years earlier, bringing his total to six stars. Alain Ducasse stands openly by his conviction that a chef’s place isn’t only at the cooking range. He is a manager, an inventor, and organizer, who inspires recipes, conceives tableware and determines the atmosphere and design of the restaurant. “It is the head chef’s responsibility to maintain excellence every day.”
In 2000, he transfers his Hôtel du Parc establishment to the Plaza Athénée on Montaigne Avenue. Five months after opening, the new restaurant is awarded 3 Michelin stars.
Partnering with investment funds, he acquires new restaurants and opens his first establishment in the US in 2000. Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York receives 3 stars in the first Michelin Guide for New York and he becomes the first chef ever to be triple-decorated with 3 stars.
Respecting nature and the dwindling resources of our planet, he promotes more and more a responsible gastronomy and presents since September 2014 at the restaurant Alain Ducasse in the Plaza Athénée his “Cuisine Naturalité,“ focused on vegetables, fish and grain. The Ducasse group currently manages 30 restaurants on 3 continents, in 7 countries, and holds a total of 19 stars at the time of this article!