Here is the second part of the interview with prominent French chef Alain Ducasse — the first half is here. And here's a link to the original, in French. Ducasse was asked about the growing number of restaurant customers who cite "special dietary requirements" when they place their orders and ask for changes in the way dishes are normally prepared. Is that trend fundamentally altering French cuisine?
Q: Can all these customer-imposed constraints on the ingredients you use in your cooking have a positive impact?
A: Yes, in certain ways. I’ll give you an example: we work more and more under pressure from customers who call themselves “locavores,” from the name a diet born on the other side of the Atlantic that means only eating products grown and raised within a radius of a few hundred kilometers. This new constraint encourages us to act responsibly, to protect the limited resources of our planet, and to be conscious of the effects on the environment of the choice of foods we prepare and serve.
Q: Have low-calorie diets also required you to modify your menus?
A: Yes. Because of of new nutritional standards, French cooking contains less fat and oil than it used to, and the portions served are smaller. As a result, French food has never been better, fresher, and lighter than it is today. Forty years ago, when I cooked sole with an herb sauce, there was more butter in the sauce than herbs. Today, thanks to better low-temperature techniques for extracting authentic herb flavors, I hardly put in any butter at all.
I wonder if Alain Ducasse serves curly kale and pulled pork in his restaurants.
But the concessions we make stop there: we will not take the butter out of our recipe for frog legs at our Allard restaurant in Paris, which we just acquired. It takes half a pound of butter to make two servings of frog legs and we haven’t found any better way to prepare this classic French dish.
Q: And what is your own diet like?
A: I am a real Frenchman, in the sense that I have a hedonistic and carnal approach to food, without phobias or restrictions. But I won’t lie to you: I like to taste everything, being curious and fickle, and even if I take care to eat a balanced diet, I regularly indulge in tasting sessions, consuming as many as 15 dishes in a row in my restaurants. It’s impossible, in fact, for me to be consistent in respecting the sacrosanct rule that says we should all eat three square meals a day.