Food

5 tips and tricks from culinary legend Alain Ducasse

By: Canadian Living
Canadian Living
Food

5 tips and tricks from culinary legend Alain Ducasse

By: Canadian Living

During his recent visit to Toronto, I sat down with chef Alain Ducasse, a culinary giant and the owner of a myriad of prestigious restaurants around the world, to ask him about a few of his best cooking tips and tricks. From his secret to making the best mashed potatoes to one of his all-time favourite chocolate treats, his advice will have you itching to get to the kitchen and start cooking. alain ducasse Jennifer Bartoli: What's your best trick to making homemade mayonnaise? Alain Ducasse: Have your eggs and all of the other ingredients at room temperature, and even better yet, try to have them be a little warmer than the temperature of the room you're in. That's the secret to making the best homemade mayonnaise! A little elbow grease is also necessary, as well as always whisking in the oil in the same direction. JB: What's your best tip to making poached eggs at home? AD: Always start by breaking your egg in a small bowl, have your water heated to just below the boiling point and then add in a little vinegar. The trick is to swirl the water using a spatula and to add your egg while the water is swirling. If you follow this method, you can poach 20 eggs at once. But if you're just getting used to the process, definitely start with just one egg! JB: How do you make a classic French potato purée? AD: I only add butter to mine, no cream. I cook the potatoes in milk seasoned with some salt. The key is to gently mash the potatoes and then add in your butter. Potato pur ée is a delicate affair! Make sure to take your time and to slowly mash all the ingredients together. JB: The best way to cook with chocolate? AD: When baking with chocolate, the best you can do is add as little additional sugar as possible so the chocolate stands out. Sugar is the enemy of chocolate! One of my favourite treats is chocolate brioche. I'll make brioche and spread it out like I would a pizza and then top with chocolate shavings like you would mozzarella on a pizza. And then I bake it until the chocolate melts. JB: Do you serve it in squares? AD: Usually, I'll eat it all on my own! JB: I'm guessing many of your friends might be anxious at the idea of cooking a meal for you. What's the best way to serve you a meal you'll enjoy? AD: I appreciate when the host makes something they're familiar with. The danger is when someone that has me over for dinner goes to buy their first cookbook a couple days before the event and then randomly turns to page 244! That generally results in a disaster. And that has happened to me before! The most memorable was a dinner I attended a while ago with the French sculptor César Baldaccini. We were late to arrive because there was a lot of traffic in Paris, and the host had already cooked her  soufflé before our arrival. Needless to say it had sunk long before we made our way in. Then the host asked me "Alain, I think my chicken dish has an issue, it's swimming in butter and it seems stuck to the bottom of the pan." I made my way to the kitchen and what immediately came to mind was that this must be what wartime Baghdad looked like! And there, in the casserole dish, were dry pieces of chicken, swimming in butter that used to be cream. The lovely host asked me "Do you think you can salvage this?" And I couldn't, but for the entire evening César would look at me and say "What do you think Alain, isn't this delicious?"And all I could muster was to say "Yes, yes it is!" Photography by Brilynn Ferguson
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5 tips and tricks from culinary legend Alain Ducasse

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