Bon appétit! We were invited to celebrate Goût de France at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at The Dorchester in Mayfair, London, and sample an exquisite seven course menu and wine pairing. As part of Goût de France, this is an initiative that unites more than 1,800 chefs from across 5 continents to mark the creativity of French gastronomy. Launched last year, from Alain Ducasse and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, it showcases the best of French cuisine, its innovation and the finest regional ingredients and traditions.
The event was inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the “Diners d’Epicure” initiative in 1912, which saw the same menu on the same day served and enjoyed by diners in several world cities. Goût de France has recreated and extended this idea by involving restaurants and chefs from all over the world. An international panel of 15 chefs, chaired by Alain Ducasse, approved the menus proposed by the bistros, brasseries and haute cuisine restaurants wishing to participate. In its first year last year, more than 100,000 guests enjoyed a French dinner in more than 1,300 restaurants and embassies around the world, and French embassies alone hosted some 5,000 guests in their residences.
I was lucky enough to sample a 7 course menu created by talented Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet who has been working alongside Alain Ducasse for several years. Jean-Philippe interprets Alain Ducasse’s cuisine in a contemporary and refined way. In keeping with his philosophy, the ingredients are the key elements. Jean-Philippe only uses the freshest and most seasonal produce, strictly sourced for their quality and provenance. These were certainly evident in our gourmet menu. We started with frog legs which were rolled in bread crumbs and served with a sorrel sauce with a Foie Gras confit on the side. Both were interpretations of classic French dishes and were delicious. We were then served two fish courses of seared hand-dived sea scallops and then a Turbot a la grenobloise with Swiss chard. So fresh and delicious, they really did melt in our mouths. Our meat course of veal medallions was accompanied by the smallest and freshest carrots I think I have ever tasted. What meal would not be complete without a Reblochon cheese, followed by a finale chocolate desert, as dark and rich and as sweet as a chocolate course should be!
The wine pairings accompanied each course – my favourite being the 2014 White Chateneuf-du-Pape from Chateau Mont-Redon. I met the Head Sommelier Christopher Bothwell, whose enthusiasm to introduce something new and exciting to his guests clearly adds to the Alain Ducasse team, which is beyond doubt world class.
Alain Ducasse himself may no longer be in the kitchen, but Jean-Philippe Blondet and this highly-skilled team are certainly worthy of a 3 star Michelin restaurant and is certainly a prestigious UK restaurant in one of the most iconic settings at The Dorchester Hotel in London. The restaurant is informal, complementing the forward-thinking approach to haute cuisine. I liked the unique touch of a ‘‘private area’’ set inside a curtain of sophisticated and twinkly lights, which is reserved for an intimate or celebratory dinner. A good place for a marriage proposal….
Whatever the occasion, dining at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is an unforgettable experience.