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When you love what you do, success is often a happy byproduct – or that has been the case for chef Yannick Alléno who has two three-Michelin-starred restaurants in France and will launch his popular bistro Terroir Parisien for the first time in Asia in LANDMARK PRINCE’S this summer.
How did your heritage shape your approach to French cuisine?
I spent my childhood in the Parisian bistros my parents managed, but I was not aware, at this time, that there was a Parisian terroir and culinary identity. In 2006, François Simon, a French critic, wrote about young chefs and the lack of identity in their cuisine. This made me realise my roots were deeply Parisian. I am a fervent defender of the Parisian terroir and agriculture; it is one of my strongest inspirations. ‘Terroir Parisien’ is the quintessence of this: accessible and simple menus, based on Parisian recipes.
Why have you chosen Hong Kong for your first bistro?
Our ambition is to have restaurants at the heart of major cities. Hong Kong’s gastronomic culture makes it the best place to promote our typically Parisian bistro cuisine and our French art de vivre.
What can guests of Terroir Parisien in Hong Kong expect to experience?
We would like our guests to discover what an authentic French bistro is. We aim for a convivial and friendly experience in a comfortable but raw atmosphere, where one instantly feels welcome. The food will remind us of traditional, casual fare, with a simple menu showcasing generous dishes, typical of the Paris region. Sharing and simplicity will be the key words.
Are there any dishes you would like to highlight?
Start with our Parisian mushroom and snail patties: Parisian mushrooms are stuffed with sautéed snail and a garlic, shallot, parsley, watercress butter – very French. The Lamb stew casserole as a main dish is a typical French ragout made with lamb and fresh spring vegetable such as carrots, turnips, little onions, peas, French green beans and potatoes; one of our favourites. Definitely choose the ‘’Nanterre’’ brioche French toast with vanilla ice-cream as a dessert – it is a divine French toast made with brioche so it is even more gourmand.
You are one of few chefs to have received three Michelin stars at two of your restaurants. What does it take to earn – and retain – three Michelin stars?
Being rewarded three Michelin stars was a dream come true; today, three stars, twice, is totally incredible. Food is my passion; it is everything to me. I am deeply convinced that when you work hard and cook with your heart, success – as pleasant as it may be – is no longer a goal but a consequence. These distinctions galvanise us and encourage us, it pushes us to go further, explore more, but we do not forget either, that the most important part is to satisfy our customers every day and to offer them real moments of gastronomic happiness. I can assure you that we will not stop. This double award is an encouragement, not an end.
What do you most enjoy about cooking? Do you still spend a lot of time in the kitchen?
Cooking is my whole life! I am in the kitchen every day, and present for each service. I spend 16 hours a day behind the stoves so yes, I still cook and explore new recipes; I could not do differently… Creating is definitely what I enjoy the most in cooking.
Who or what inspires you?
Music, sounds, colours, smells, travels, people…pretty much everything inspires me. I am curious and just love creating new dishes. Playing with ingredients is fascinating, trying new techniques, investigating a new flavour, tasting, transforming, shaping the product and coming up with new recipes is what livens me up.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My parents taught me that hard work, respect and resilience are key values that you should always stand by.
What advice do you have for anyone wishing to pursue a career as a chef?
Learn from the best, work hard, be brave; with hard work and creativity, everything is possible.
What are your words of wisdom to live by?
Get involved and do it with passion; follow your instinct; have fun.