Yannick Alléno is embracing a new way of thinking. A modern style of cooking and a philosophy that will revolutionise French gastronomy. It is called Cuisine Moderne and will be unveiled at the reopening of The 1947 at Cheval Blanc Courchevel in December.
Named after one of the most celebrated wines of the last century, (a rare bottle of 1947 Cheval-Blanc sold for $304.375 in 2010), The 1947 is Yannick’s two Michelin star restaurant in Courchevel.
Yannick and his business partner of four years, Florence Cane, have created an international empire—spreading their style of luxury food around the globe with Group Yannick Alléno. The group includes many different restaurant concepts, including the Grande Table, S.T.A.Y (Simple Table Alléno Yannick), Sweet Tea and Terroir Parisien.
Born in Puteaux, a western suburb of Paris, Yannick’s love affair with food began at 15-years-old. Starting his professional career at the Royal Monceau in Paris, Yannick worked with Gabriel Biscay before joining the Hotel Sofitel Sèvres, working closely with chefs Roland Durand and Martial Enguehard.
Yannick had started to prove himself in the kitchens of Paris, eventually taking on the lead role at Scribe. Yannick’s dedication was rewarded with his first Michelin star in 1999, followed by a second in 2002.
The following year, in 2003, Le Meurice came calling, entrusting Yannick with the running of the hotel’s magnificent restaurant. Within four years of his residency at Le Meurice, Yannick had received his third Michelin star, cementing his name and that of Le Meurice as one of the world’s best chefs and restaurants. Yannick says: “This third star was my dream. It is the result of 22 years of work, passion and a desire to be accurate and demanding in each moment.
“Yet it also marks the beginning of a new life. This third star is a tremendous responsibility and it is now up to me to make it shine. More than ever, I want to progress and perfect my work in order to offer our clients real consistency and a true gastronomic signature.”
Progressive thinking and the gaining of the third star had spurred Yannick to delve deeper into French gastronomy to create a new concept in cooking that will soon be showcased at The 1947.
The restaurant at Cheval Blanc has been designed in harmony with its snow-capped surroundings. The tones and materials used by designer Sybille de Margerie reflect a contemporary style in which Yannick can perform in his new culinary theatre.
“In the first year of opening at Cheval Blanc we got two stars. But, I expect something more from my restaurant. I need evolution from myself and my cuisine.” Yannick explains: “I wanted to do something different. We have followed the idea of nouvelle cuisine since 1975. That is more than 35 years following the story that [André] Gault and [Christian] Millau told us. I think we have to give more to people, the new French cuisine; Cuisine Moderne.”
Cuisine Moderne focuses on the main dish. The star course that will form the basis for the rest of the menu. “The main dish is the most important course of a meal and from the main dish, the gastronomic dinner is then selected around this.”
The chef explains the three main principles at The 1947. “Firstly, the best produce has to be used—the very, very best of everything; secondly, the produce paired with the wine and thirdly, the theatrical experience of the gastronomic meal. All of these together are equally important to the experience at 1947.”
Distancing itself from traditional food and wine pairings, The 1947 offers its customers a whole new way of experiencing the art of wine. By mixing the DNA and associating raw materials, the unique experiences offer an emotive, affirmed and sometimes extraordinary result.
Yannick has gone one step further in his quest to evolve as a chef, working on eight wine experiences. The difference, for example, is that the meat will be stored in Chateau d'Yquems barrels and then cooked. “This is a different kind of food and wine pairing called fusion of savoir-faire.” Yannick explains: “The loin of veal will be marinated in barrels of Château d'Yquem, cooked using the chalk from the Ruinart chalk quarries; vegetables fermented in vine leaves from the Clos du Mesnil from the Maison Krug, using variations in the temperature of serving the Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 with the artichoke and black truffle (see recipe, page 34-35). With this, the foundations of Cuisine Moderne are laid.”
Yannick spends as much time—if not more—in the laboratory experimenting with food, its taste, temperature and texture, as he does in the kitchen, overseeing the dishes prepared by his brigades at Le Meurice and The 1947.
“I spend my life experimenting. I need to grow as a chef. I am finding another way of thinking and cooking right now. It’s a new way of working for me.”
When The 1947 reopens in December, Yannick will, for the second year running, present the Cookooning, a cooking tool designed and developed by Sylvie Coquet with Alléno, to rediscover natural cooking techniques. The tool is designed to expose the raw and natural flavours of each ingredient so they are preserved and presented in their most natural state.
Essentially, the Cookooning (top, middle image) tool steams the food. With two small holes, the steam is released, maintaining a perfect balance during the cooking. Cookooning is designed to keep the food out of an intense heat, at a softer, more consistent temperature.
Yannick takes care to honour the meat or fish of the main dish, with each one prepared and cooked whole. “When you arrive at 1947 and it is time for the main dish to be presented, the chef arrives at the table and the dish is cooked whole. We won’t cut the fish or the meat and then just cook part of it. We get the best out of the flavours by cooking it whole.”
The service is of great importance to Yannick and his team at The 1947. With only 20 covers in the restaurant each guest is treated to a personalised experienced. “When you arrive, there is nothing on the table. No silverware or glassware and everything is white porcelain. It is all part of the experience at 1947.”
Yannick Alléno has created a French cuisine that fuses tradition with provocative creativity. Six months of creation for six months of application, during which time everything is designed to accompany the culinary savoir-faire, enhance the experience and showcase Cuisine Moderne. The 1947 at Cheval Blanc Courchevel opens December 2012 - April 2013.
"I expect something more from my restaurant. I need evolution from myself and my cuisine. This third star was my dream. It is the result of 22 years of work, passion and a desire to be accurate and demanding in each moment. Yet it also marks the beginning of a new life. This third star is a tremendous responsibility and it is now up to me to make it shine. More than ever, I want to progress and perfect my work."
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© DISHES PHILIPPE VAURÈS