By Virginia Monaco
Last week, ICE was honored to have a true living legend visit our school – Chef Alain Ducasse. Along with his long time collaborator and Corporate Chef Sylvain Portay, Chef Ducasse came to debut and demonstrate his new app – My Culinary Encyclopedia : Recipes and Techniques by Alain Ducasse.
Alain Ducasse was trained in some of the best European kitchens, notably Moulin de Mougins under legendary chef Roger Verge, where he learned Provençal cooking, now his trademark. The list of Chef Ducasse’s accomplishments during his career is long and groundbreaking. He was the first chef ever to have three restaurants in three cities with three Michelin stars each at the same time. He is currently at the helm of 22 restaurants with a total of 17 Michelin stars.Culinary Education is key for this chef. In keeping with his values, he established Ducasse Education, the mission of which is to educate the next generation of top international culinary professionals with exceptional global standards, rigor, innovation, and creativity.
Unlike many established chefs, Chef Ducasse has a rare ability to evolve and adapt, and his new app–both novel and groundbreaking–is a perfect example of this. My Culinary Encyclopedia features 250 classic Ducasse recipes hand-picked by Chef Ducasse himself, along with interactive instructional videos, in-depth ingredient fact sheets and dozens of important base recipes. It brings his classic Culinary Encyclopedia book into the 21st century.
ICE was the perfect fit for Chef Ducasse to premiere his impressive app, as we are the first culinary school in the country to fully integrate iPads into our professional kitchens. Many in the audience had the app open on their iPads and were able to follow along as Chef Portay demonstrated two recipes from the app, with Chef Ducasse tasting and adjusting every component that went onto the plate. The audience watched as Chef Portay skillfully crafted two dishes based on the app’s interactive instructions. A packed room full of students, alumni and press were lucky enough to enjoy a classic Shrimp Cocktail with a Horseradish Royale and Tangy Tomato Syrup followed by Half-Salted Cod “a la Meuniere” with Country Puree of Haricot Beans.
The video instructions–which were broadcast on several large screens around the room–walked Chef Portay through every part of the recipe process from beginning to end. While the demo was performed by a professional chef in this instance, the app is designed for cooks of all experience levels, and is sure to produce a beautiful final product.
After the demo, an audience member asked Chef Ducasse about the role of technology in the kitchen. He replied that it is a very useful tool, but nothing will ever replace the importance of knowing your craft, a good stove and constant tasting. It is clear that Chef Ducasse walks a fine line between studying and revering classic dishes, while at the same time innovating and incorporating new ideas and techniques into his repertoire. In other words, he is a constantly evolving chef and culinary creator.
Chef Ducasse’s visit to ICE, along with his app, gave audience members a revealing look into the mind of a world-famous chef. We were thrilled to host such a culinary legend on one of his rare public appearances. As Chef Ducasse’s demonstration of his new app showed, the possibilities for the integration of technology in the kitchen are endless. ICE remains at the forefront of technological culinary advancements in its own kitchens, and is excited about what the future holds. However, technology will never replace the classic dishes, years of skilled technique and passion that chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Sylvain Portay bring to their exquisite cuisine.