Presumably anyone who can afford the $150 to $300 a head it takes to dine at one of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants won’t blanch at the hefty price tag on this glossy testimonial to the great master’s gastronomy. L’Atelier of Alain Ducasse is like an elaborate program you bring home from the opera and may have about as much practical value. In his introduction, Jean-Francois Revel of the Academie Francaise suggests there’s a certain pointlessness to even thinking about cooking along the lines of the recipes presented by Ducasse. Revel emphasizes again and again the high quality of the ingredients Ducasse works with, implying that such ingredients by their very nature are out of reach of mere mortal cooks. “In these modern times,” Revel writes, “the land is far removed from nature, and nature has found refuge in haute cuisine. For now nature has become too expensive: in the kitchen, as elsewhere, it has become a supreme luxury.” So with the caveat that you will never find the special ingredients it takes to make any of these dishes really sing and that the skill level is professional, Ducasse divides his book into sections based on his favorite ingredients: olives and olive oil, asparagus, wheat, the white Alba truffle, bass, turbot, lamb, and lemons and citrus fruits. The recipes have been produced by Ducasse and a handful of his core students including Franck Cerutti, Jean-Louis Nomicos, Sylvain Portay, Jean-Francois Piege, and Alessandro Stratta. Good writing would have carried this book way over the top, but good writing is what it lacks. The essays are wooden, perhaps attributable to translation, and the recipes, of course, are out of reach. That leaves the photos, which makes this a beautiful book for the coffee table. –Schuyler Ingle
From Library Journal
Alain Ducasse is freqently referred to as “the six-star chef,” because he has accomplished the seemingly impossible, gaining the Michelin Guide’s top three stars for both Louis XV, his restaurant in Monte-Carlo, and Restaurant Alain Ducasse, his more recent Paris venture. Part of his success stems from his culinary vision, but part of it can be traced to his ability to train his gifted young chefs. Otherwise, it would be impossible to maintain such high standards at two restaurants simultaneously. In recipes organized by ingredient, from “Olives and Olive Oil” to “The White Alba Truffle,” this lavishly illustrated volume showcases the talents of five of Ducasse’s young proteges, including two in the United States, at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Each section starts with a recipe from Ducasse, with step-by-step technique photos, and follows with one recipe from each chef, shown in full-page color photographs. Ingredients and demanding recipes will make this more valuable as a source of inspiration than as a book to cook from; for larger collections where chef’s books are popular.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.