05 December 2014-French Savoir-Faire
The perfect curve at Plaza Athénée
At the Plaza Athenée, less is more as Alain Ducasse reinvents himself! Discover this culinary top spot, perfectly orchestrated down to the last details.
This is nature as a source of inspiration, the human hand as an anchor. At the Plaza Athénée, oh how Parisian a reference… Alain Ducasse’s table reaches its golden age: that of ripe fruit picked from trees and generous vegetables, fine bread and fresh iodized meat. Grain also twists its archaic lustre with a hint of modernity…
Inspired by nature, the dishes invented by this top chef are based on how these seasonal products are fabricated, from their content to their form. Here, a Japanese spoon accompanies black rice seafood, or there, a frosted Saint Louis glass tinged with the pigments of carrot, celery and cucumber juice. Here, a wood spatula edged with organic butter, and there a vegetable garden of aromatic herbs scattered in green strands. The showstopper is in the aesthetics, in this choreography of detail that sets the dinner scene.
Equally, it is the expert detail that gives this classic room a contemporary look. Designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, it comes alive with an explosion of drop beads, dangled from the two main chandeliers. Enhancing this constellation are semi-globes, devised in polished stainless steel concealing the ivory benches or protect the tables in their elegant fuselage. Created by the winning artisans of France’s Best Craftsman (businesses Matinox and Le Floch), these are an allegorical representation of a serving cloche. And all with the perfect curve.
Alluding to the sea, and the hull of fishing boats, a giant alcove frees itself in this space like an indoor canopy, beneath this curved oak case, it sports an immaculate second skin, which covers a solo stool. The captain’s chair, you might say.
Positioned on the table, a thick glass candleholder – hand-blown in Murano by glass magician, Aristide Najean – comes away like a lantern. A glowing object that keeps you on course during a storm of delicious tastes and emotions.
Totally untouched, the enormous oak table is an atlas of sensuality: more than just tablecloths but veins of wood unveiled by cabinetmakers Rinck, and beneath the table-top, concealed so to be better discovered, are cream leather sheath surfaces. Forget your good manners, and leave your hands under the table!
The final visual showstoppers in the room are the two immense theatrical doors: designed with care, shelves and stages fade into the numerous pieces from the Alain Ducasse collection. A cabinet of curiosities reveals the savoir-faire of the most illustrious French manufacturers (including Christofle, Saint Louis and Puiforcat). A museum anti-chamber that showcases examples of French style elegance…
Understated, slow, suspended; the atmosphere acts as the ideal setting to serve a boletus tart and warm lobster or scallops accompanied by brioche or cauliflower with comté cheese.
At the Plaza Athénée, exception has a natural face, and hands that respect it. Less really is more.