Culinary Diffusion? Yes, in Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens

Chef Alain Ducasse (Photo credit: Executive Class Blog)

In a way, it’s the French version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

World-famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, chose fifteen women from Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris housing mostly poor immigrants mainly from France’s former North African colonies.

Sarcelles (Photo credit: La Gazette)

Sarcelles market (Photo credit: Banlieues de France blog)

An article in The New York Times tells the whole story, almost a Cinderella saga:

15 Women Win Golden Tickets to Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens – NYTimes.com

All are from Sarcelles, all were either born outside of France or are first generation immigrants. Most have a passionate interest in cooking but little knowledge of French cuisine, accustomed instead to North African traditions and families eating from one large dish. A young woman from Mali screamed, her friends said, when she first saw a live lobster.

Like many culinary schools, Ducasse’s

… also runs a small restaurant, open to the public, which dares to eat the products of the school kitchen, but for only $18 for a three-course meal. The other day it was a beef roast or a curried chicken, with flan for dessert topped with a big tuile cookie.

Living as they do in what can only be described as housing projects not unlike those in big cities in the United States, these fifteen women know what an opportunity they’ve been given. According to the article, they do not feel patronized at all.

It shall be interesting to see what, if any, effect their formal training has on their home cooking in the future. And … what effect their culinary heritage will have on French cuisine.

Alain Ducasse Cooking School

Making tuile cookies can be a bit challenging at first, but if you’re interested, try this recipe from Epicurious.com.

Photo credit: Robin Catesby

For more about Alain Ducasse’s cuisine, see the following books:

Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse’s Desserts and Pastries

By Alain Ducasse and Frederic Robert

Ducasse Flavors of France

By Alain Ducasse and Linda Dannenberg

Grand Livre De Cuisine: Alain Ducasse’s Culinary Encyclopedia
By Alain Ducasse, Didier Elena, Franck Cerutti and Patrick Ogheard
The Provence of Alain Ducasse: Recipes, Addresses and Places
By Alain Ducasse and François Simon

L’Atelier of Alain Ducasse : The Artistry of a Master Chef and His Protegés, By Alain Ducasse, Jean-Françoise Revel, Benedict Beauge and Hervé Amiard

Spoon:  Food & Wine, By Alain Ducasse and Hartmut Kiefer

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