Alain Passard’s restaurant L'Arpège in Paris has long held three Michelin stars and is number 12 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He’s a visionary of vegetable-centric cooking and dropped red meat from his menu long before kitchen gardens were on trend. The son of a seamstress and a musician, Alain has an artistic sensibility that is evident in his food.
Recently we were lucky enough to try Alain’s cooking at a lunch in Launceston, Tasmania as part of the Great Chefs Series on until August 11. The idea? A group of young chefs from TasTAFE get to learn from legends such as Alain and you get to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences with world-class chefs.
Here’s the five-course menu Alain imagined for the premier event at Josef Chromy Wines, as well as ideas for recreating it at home:
1. A bright tomato gazpacho complemented by a cleansing quenelle of celery ice cream showcased Alain’s deft touch with vegetables straight up.
Try: Gazpacho by Oliver Bon
2. This rainbow of baby vegetables shone in its simplicity, but it was the electric honey dressing that took it to the next level. Known as the ‘vegetable harlequin’, this is among Alain’s most famous dishes.
Try: Roasted vegetable salad with rocket and tomatoes by Skye Gyngell
3. If I were to have guessed the dish that would knock my socks off pre-meal, the grilled squid in garlic bouillabaisse probably wouldn’t even have made my top two. This was beautifully structured – a flavour-packed broth, fresh ribbons of squid and creamy egg yolk. A highlight.
Try: Traditional marseille bouillabaisse by Luke Nguyen
4. The anomaly from the line-up. It was surprising to find red meat on the menu when it’s such a side step from what Alain is all about, but then again, meat-free tasting menus are almost unheard of in Australia. The sauce was rich, sticky and packed a flavour punch – a mixture of rooibos tea and orange juice. The sweetness of the sauce offset the bitterness of the grilled witlof and the Flinders Island wallaby was perfectly pink.
Try: Angus beef bavette, pumpkin, caramelised witlof, maple syrup by Philippa Sibley
5. A plate of tart Tasmanian berries, hibiscus syrup and crunchy almonds was just the thing to round out this parade of pristine produce.
Try: Mixed berries with kirsch in tulip baskets by Gabriel Gaté
Chris McGimpsey, the brains behind the event, shared that Alain was so enchanted by Tasmania that he plans to return each year. We’ll be bookmarking greatchefsseries.com.au for our next chance to dine with the masterful chef.
Read our chat with Alain Passard on Tasmanian produce.