Award-winning chef brings French style to Shanghai
Born in 1968, in Puteaux, France, Yannick Alléno is now one of the greatest chefs in the world, with an assured place in gastronomic history.
In 1999, a first Michelin star rewarded his hard work and creativity, which was confirmed in 2002 with a second.
In 2015, he was chosen as chef of the year by both Andrew Harper and Gault et Millau.
In 2017, Alléno's restaurant Le 1947 in Cheval Blanc was rewarded with a third Michelin Star. A supreme and historic distinction for the chef who now holds two restaurants with three Michelin stars.
Inspired by his mother, he wanted to be a cook at the age of eight — he started to work on that dream at 15.
He was lucky enough to be trained by the very best chefs, starting his career at the Royal Monceau working with Gabriel Biscay, before joining the Hotel Sofitel Sèvres and working closely with chefs Roland Durand and Martial Henguehard. It was after entering Drouant, with Chef Louis Grondard, that he eventually forged his maturity and his discipline.
After helping Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, and Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc Courchevel, to transform into three Michelin star restaurants, he brought an authentic French bistro called Terroir Parisien to Shanghai last November.
“You need to work a lot. You need to learn a lot. You need to feel a lot. You need to smell a lot. You need a long time to become a chef — you need a lot of knowledge,” he told Shanghai Daily.
“A good chef is someone who dances with fire.”
That "fire" is how he describes the calories he plays with when he makes his creations.
“You have to feel the fire, the calories. It’s the most difficult thing to do. You have to play with the calories. When you understand the fire, you can say you are a very good cook,” he added.
Alléno likes to create, innovate, taste and play with ingredients in order to obtain the best results. He gets his inspiration from local products, and enjoys creating links between the classic and the modern.
“One thing I have learnt from Chinese cuisine is about texture, because in the Chinese style, you have the reflex to change the texture,” he explained. “For example, you put the shrimp in water for some time, it’s completely washed — there’s no taste but the texture is fantastic.”
Asked about his advice for Chinese diners trying French cuisine for the first time, he didn’t forget to show off his sense of humor. “Have a good bottle of French wine!”
But he laments what dining has become for many people these days.
“Drop the phone and put it away," he urges. "It’s good for you brain and body. It’s good for the relationship you can have with your friends. This is the unique moment when you can switch off things — the restaurant is the perfect place to forget your problems and forget the politics.”
A "fantastic glass of wine" is one of the things he says is ruined by today's 24/7 addiction to technology.
“How can you appreciate it if you are talking with someone on the phone somewhere else on the planet? You need to be concentrated.”