Although he might not like the title, Alain Ducasse could easily be characterized as a mogul in the restaurant industry. With – decades in the business, several restaurants under his belt, and an eponymous restaurant group with its hand in everything from actual restaurant operations to consultancy to cooking schools and beyond, Ducasse is a verifiable culinary force. And his reach isn’t just global. By way of his French cooking school and its partnership with European Space Agency, Ducasse is actually sending food into space. “I’m a happy chef!” says Ducasse on his website. With success like his, we’re inclined to believe him.
This literally out-of-this-world venture in cuisine began on September 13th, 1956 in Castelsarrasin, southwestern France, where Ducasse was born. More officially, it began in 1972 with Ducasse’s apprenticeship at the Pavillon Landais restaurant in Soustons. From there, Ducasse sweated his way through the ranks of several French kitchens, eventually landing at Moulin de Mougins where he began playing with the contours of the Provençale cuisine for which he is now so very, very well known.
Head chef positions followed, and soon enough Ducasse was earning his first Michelin stars as executive chef of La Terrasse in Juan-les-Pins in 1984. More stars would follow. As chef de cuisine for the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Ducasse helped earn Louis XV three stars—making it the first hotel restaurant to earn three stars in the history of the guide. Ducasse would maintain strong ties to the hotel world, opening his own inn in Provence in 1995 and opening his own restaurants in hotels from Paris to New York City’s own Essex House Hotel.
Today, with restaurants stretching from Tokyo to Las Vegas, a slew of important cookbooks, and legions of chefs training in his kitchens across the globe, Ducasse is slowly working his way towards a culinary version of world domination. With a few satisfied customers in space, for good measure. But however far his empire expands, Ducasse hasn’t lost sight of his chef’s core values—after all, they’re a huge part of what carried him this far. “Each good product, grown with love and respect, in its distinctive land, has an incomparable flavour,” says Ducasse. “Without which, a chef is nothing.” Ambitious chefs should heed his advice: in 2010 Ducasse scored yet another constellation of triplets, with three Michelin stars going to his restaurants in Paris, Monaco, and London.