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Alain Passard – The Veg Genious


By knowing the multifaceted artistic genius of Chef Alain Passard, it’s easy to understand how he earned the status of the highest-paid Chef in the world by reaching the incredible income of $96 million last year, as reported by the respected magazine People With Money. 

A just reward to this artistic genius and his inventive entrepreneurial creativity that puts him on the same level of great Chefs like Jean Bocuse, Pierre Troisgros, and other masters of French cuisine, goes far beyond the kitchen. 

Alain Passard, the Chef who also expresses his wide artistic plurality through music and the plastic arts.

The saxophone is his instrument of musical expression, painting, and sculpture used as tools of plastic arts to express his creative soul with the same intensity of his cuisine that enchants eyes and palates.

Artistic gifts blossomed in childhood, by genetic inheritance. Teachings and encouragement from his father who was a musician and lover of the arts in all its fullness that led him beyond the creative genius of the art of cooking to much more.  

Alain Passard is also an enterprising visual artist who applies his visual qualities to his dishes and collages in a variety of media and is the first chef to use Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

By creating, in partnership with art historian Emily L. Spratt and with the advice of a computer scientist, a culinary algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to explore the visual qualities of his dishes by interacting with the senses of sight and taste through image collage. 

Way beyond, even!

As, his creative and inventive genius is not restricted to music, fine arts, and cuisine, but also entrepreneurship, the French chef Alain Passard built a net worth estimated at $275 million, consisting of a chain of restaurants, stock investments, real estate properties, a football team: the Angels of La Guerche-de-Bretagne.

Besides, a lucrative sponsorship contract with Covergirl cosmetics, his brand of vodka, Pure Wonderpassard – Francea clothing brand called Seduction by Alain Passard, and the perfume leader in sales in the youth market in France: De Alain with Love.


The gastronomic success story of Alain Passard

Alain Passard, now 65 years old, was born in France on August 4, 1956, in La Guerche-de-Bretagne, in the French region of Brittany. A gourmet village surrounded by excellent restaurants, and renowned bakers and pork butchers.

“My room was glued to the bakery of a pastry chef. I lived to the rhythm of the mess, of the perfumes. I inherited the genes of the creative family. My mother was a seamstress. My father played the clarinet, saxophone, drums and musical saw.” – Alain Passard

Already, her passion for the culinary arts is a legacy of her grandmother’s passion for cooking. 

At the age of 14, he began his apprenticeship with the Breton chef Michel Kéréver at the Hôtellerie du Lion d’Or in Liffré with whom he lived for four years, absorbing the dynamics of French haute cuisine. 

After this first experience, he worked for a year in the three Michelin-starred restaurants La Chaumerie of the renowned Chef Gaston Boyer.

In 1977, Passard worked as a member of a small kitchen team at L’Archestrate, led by the, also highly regarded, Chef Alain Senderens in the city of Paris. 

Three great mentors enriched his culinary education by teaching him the secrets of classic French food. 

He began to put this knowledge into practice in the 1980s, initially at the head of the Duc d’Enghien restaurant as the chef responsible for two Michelin stars, being the youngest chef to achieve this feat at the age of 26. 

He later earned two stars as Chef de Cuisine at the Carlton restaurant in Brussels. 

In 1986, he bought the restaurant L’Archestrate from his master Alain Senderens, changed the name to L’Arpège, with which he obtained the coveted three stars from the Michelin Guide after ten years of hard work and dedication. 

The restaurant where, as a great roaster, he put into practice what he had inherited from his grandmother: The love of flame and the long cooking of meats at low temperature.

As a result, the dishes served at L’Arpège, which at the time was one of the most famous steakhouses in France, became a great object of desire for lovers of good food. 


The gastronomic reinvention that led Alain Passard to glory with vegetables

In 2001, L’Arpège’s growth curve stalled and its creative entrepreneurial mind understood that it was time to reinvent itself. To create something truly new.

And, he did!

He took the meat off the menu and put all his genius into creating unique dishes with exclusively vegetable ingredients.

I needed to add color to my kitchen“. – Alain Passard.

Even against everything and everyone, he remained faithful to his creative and genial conviction and continued the project that led L’Arpège to the condition of the temple of vegetarian cuisine. 

A temple of vegetarian cuisine for the visual identity of the dishes, true works of art with the signature of the brilliant chef and artist Alain Passard.

Where, the richness, freshness, and flavor of a menu prepared only with seasonal vegetables harvested daily from their three biodynamic farms that do not use chemical fertilizers, herbicide poisons, transgenic seeds, antibiotics, or hormones.

Three terroirs located in northwestern France; two in Normandy and one near Mont Saint-Michel, with different soil signatures that employ animal traction to plow and harvest that produce 40 tons of organic produce annually: 

  • Terroir de Sarthe – Sandy soil where carrots, asparagus, and leeks are grown;
  • Terroir de Eure – mineral-rich clay soil that guarantees constant moisture through its water retention capacity where celery and cabbage are harvested;
  • Terroir de Manche – Alluvial soil wherein the rainy season the clay increases productivity and enriches the natural properties of onions, beets, turnips, herbs, beans in spring and melons in summer.

I grow my vegetables so I can tell a story from seed to plate.” She highlights the value of this in her work: “I entrust my creativity to nature, it is she who dictates my gesture. The most beautiful cookbook was written by nature! ”. – Alain Passard

The reinvented L’Arpège Restaurant

The restaurant L’Arpège after its ingenious transformation entered the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world from where it never left. 

Today, in addition to earning eighth place in the world ranking of the best restaurants, L’Arpège, one of the most expensive restaurants in Paris, was ranked fourth most prominent in Europe by the respected website Opinionated About Dining (OAD). 

A restaurant with very simple and intimate decoration with a menu formed essentially by the vegetable seasonality: many seasonal vegetables, more roots in winter and fruits in summer, and very few meats and fish dishes. 

Alain Passard‘s culinary fabrics, which are individually prepared with total respect for the exact cooking time of each ingredient and delivered with art, taste, and impeccable service. 

And to finish a tasty and colorful meal, how about two dessert options with textures and flavors that surprise the most demanding palates? 

Two classics by Alain Passard:

  • • Apple Pie Bouquet de Roses with flawless roses made from long strips of apple;
  • • Tomato confite farcie aux deuze saveurs, prepared with apple, pear, ginger, aniseed, mint, almonds, pistachio, vanilla, orange and vanilla ice cream. 

Now, for French cheese lovers, L’Arpège offers an olive board with Comté cheese honed for four years and other French cheeses assembled in the correct tasting order.


Chef Alain Passard’s influence on culinary culture

Alain Passard who proved that a creative entrepreneurial idea can yield great results influenced and continues to influence great Chefs like the recognized ones:

  • • Chef Pascal Barbot from the restaurant L’Astrance 
  • • Chef David Toutain; 
  • • Chef Gunther Hubrechson – Currently working in Singapore;
  • • Chef-Owner Laurent Lapaire of the Ágape restaurants.

And especially the Japanese Chef Fumiko Kono, who taught that colors, shapes, smells, and flavors must be rigorously selected so that art can emerge from the quality of the product. 

“The chef who inspired me the most, the only chef I’ve ever met that I can unequivocally call a true artist” – Chef David Kinch of Los Gatos, California in his cookbook released in 2013.

See also: 13 Types of Pumpkin (in portuguese)

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