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Portrait Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester – Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet

article Jean-Philippe Blondet
Tesi: Dear Jean-Philippe, you are executive chef at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester since this January. Please tell me a bit more about your new role and your ambition for the role in the next year.
Jean-Philippe:  I joined Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in September 2013, where for two years as sous chef, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge and technical expertise under the guidance of Jocelyn Herland. Working with Jocelyn was extremely beneficial, providing me with the right tools to embark on this new journey as Executive Chef. A priority for me is to make sure that my team develops to its full potential; being able to train and retain the team is crucial for me. I am very proud that my kitchen team remains stable and that we work as one.
Tesi: Creating a French influenced menu for a restaurant that can be called a British icon. What are the challenges to do that and how do you get your inspiration to create dishes and menus?
Jean-Philippe:  At Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, we interpret Alain Ducasse’s cuisine in a contemporary and refined way. My main inspiration is foremost the product and ingredient. I always start with the vegetable in mind, which should be at its best in season, and then match it accordingly. While our cooking methods and techniques are French, we use a substantial amount of British produce. I also take much of my inspiration from my personal roots, being born in Nice and sharing the love for the Riviera and Mediterranean cuisine that is so close to Mr Ducasse’s heart. Influences are also peppered throughout my career spent working in iconic restaurants such as – Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse à l'Hôtel de Paris in Monaco.
Tesi:  Some chefs discover their love for food and their gift for preparing outstanding dishes quite late, while for others it is clear in their childhood years that they will become a chef. When did you discover your ability to prepare food that is far beyond the norm?
Jean-Philippe: I would say that I discovered it quite early! My mum actually told me that since the age of 4, I would go to the markets with her, and would be very interested in the produce, chatting along with the growers and producers. Later on, around the age of 10, I already knew that I wanted to cook, but I was rather interested in pastry and baking. I then started to cook with vegetables and have since developed a passion for them. 
article Rib and saddle of VENISON Grand Veneur celeriac  Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester pierremonetta-7430
Tesi: The gastronomic world is changing quickly nowadays. Which tip would you give a young chef who is at the beginning of his career to stand out?
Jean-Philippe: I think the main advice I would give to a young chef starting his career, is to be patient. What I see now is that young chefs are impatient and keen to grow too fast. Before, one used to spend some time in each position, now they want to see all sections within two years. I think it is important to take the time to discover each position in depth, and try not to rush. At the same time, I would advise them to find their own story to tell, to be willing to try new experiences and be curious, and more than anything do what they love. There is no point in cooking a cuisine that you do not personally enjoy!
Tesi: Tell me one fact about French cuisine people in Great Britain might be surprised about
Jean-Philippe: People may be surprised by the importance we give to sauces. Indeed there is a real culture of sauces in France, with some sauces being prepared for days! For instance, the Grand-Veneur sauce we serve with the rib and saddle of Venison at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, uses trimming of venison and aromatic garnish that marinate in red wine for 24 hours. Sauces are so important as they sublimate all dishes and from my standpoint are one of the most important elements, being the key link between all parts of a dish. 
Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Jean-Philippe: Good food can be summed-up by the right produce, used at the right time (seasonality) and prepared in the right way! 
Thank you
Matthias Tesi Baur
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