Interview with Chef Alain Ducasse
Above: Alain Ducasse (Photo: M Rougemont)
By Alexander Britell
There are chefs, and then there is Alain Ducasse. The legendary chef was the first to have Michelin three-star restaurants in three different cities at the same time, and has earned 19 in his career — from Le Louis XV in Monaco to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London, which also earned three Michelin stars. Now, Ducasse has expanded his range to the Caribbean Sea, opening miX on the Beach last year at the W Retreat & Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Ducasse talked to Caribbean Journal about the restaurant’s philosophy and bringing his style to the Caribbean.
How did you first decide to open in Puerto Rico?
My cooking has always been rooted in the coastal flavors of the Mediterranean. Inspired by this passion, the menu at miX features light, refreshing dishes that highlight only the finest ingredients from land and sea. miX on the beach provides the opportunity to work with an incredible variety of fresh produce and indigenous ingredients from the island and around the Caribbean, which I was not able to incorporate onto my other restaurant menus around the world.
How would you describe the cuisine philosophy at miX on the Beach?
Working as much as possible with the local farmers and fishermen, taking local dishes and revisiting them.
What was the creative process in making the menu at the restaurant?
Mix is a recreative restaurant geared towards a clientele of hedonists such as the clientele in W Vieques. Each one of my restaurants is singular and draws its inspiration from the location itself, its produce, its food culture.
What do you think about the state of Caribbean cuisine generally?
I love Caribbean flavors. You travel from Mexico to Puerto Rico, then Jamaica; it is so diversified, colorful, without forgetting the street fairs where you can discover the local dishes for a buck or two, like alcapurias, fried plantains, asopao etc…
What is different about opening a restaurant in a tropical setting?
The weather is so warm all the time, that produce can have a hard time and consistency is an issue. Some vegetables are very hard to get also.
So it is very important to nourish the relationship with our purveyors and accompany them the best we can. Same with the staff we employ from the island. We encourage and train them constantly.