There are few living culinary legends in the world, and Master Chef Alain Sailhac is one of them. American cuisine wouldn’t be where it is today without him, his culinary acumen, mentorship, and passion for sharing his knowledge with generations of chefs and chefs-to-be.
Like many French chefs of his generation, Sailhac started his culinary journey at age 14 as an apprentice at the Capion restaurant in Millau, France. He worked in Paris, Corfu, Rhodes, and Guadalupe before becoming sous chef at the Michelin two-star Chateau de Larraldia. He made his US debut in New York City as chef de cuisine at Le Mistral, and then at Le Manoir; he returned to Europe for stints in Paris and New Caledonia; and came back to the States to helm the kitchen at Le Perroquet in Chicago.
He returned to the Big Apple in 1974 to join the Le Cygne team where he garnered a coveted four star review from New York Times reviewer Mimi Sheraton. But where he made the most impact on fine dining in the US was at Le Cirque, where he served as executive chef from 1978 to 1986. Here he trained some of today’s brightest culinary stars, including Rick Moonen, David Bouley, and Terrance Brennan to name just a few. You could say that before joining The FCI, Sailhac ran the best graduate cooking school in America—in the Le Cirque kitchen.
The accomplished chef ran the kitchen of the well-known 21 Club, was culinary director at the famed Plaza Hotel, and consultant to the Regency Hotel. He joined The FCI as dean of culinary studies in 1991 and was a guiding force in shaping the school, pivotal in acquiring top-notch faculty and lecturers, and the mind behind the menu at L’Ecole. Now, as executive vice president, Sailhac continues to influence young chefs through his role as student advisor, mentor, and school ambassador.
Sailhac received the Silver Toque when he was named the 1997 Chef of the Year by the Maîtres Cusiniers de France (Master Chefs of France). He also has been awarded the Chevalier du Mérite Agricole. He is a member of numerous prestigious culinary organizations, including the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France and the Société Culinaire Philanthropique.