Alain Passard, the chef and owner of l'Arpège in Paris, known for his cuisine a la vegetable, will be in Los Angeles to cook at the All-Star Chef Classic, which takes place this weekend at L.A. Live.
Passard's l'Arpège received three Michelin stars in 1996 and has maintained the distinction every year since then. There are now three gardens in three regions of France that provide the restaurant with organic seasonal vegetables: in the Sarthe for carrots, asparagus and leeks especially; in the Eure for celeriac and cabbage; and herbs from the Manche. Passard worked with chefs Gaston Boyer, Michel Kerever and Alain Senderens and names them as his mentors. On a l'Arpège menu might be Palco spinach with brown butter, baby carrots and orange; Sturon onion gratin with lemon confit; lobster caught off the Chausey Islands; chicken from Pascal Cosnet roasted in hay; lamb raised in the salt marsh meadows of Mont St. Michel; and a souffle of Araguani chocolate.
What's coming up next on your menu?
Spring turnips, rhubarb, geranium oil and fresh mint, a surprising way to start the coming season. Asparagus with fresh angelica, to bring some freshness to the vegetable.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend that I enjoy using for [savory] dishes as well as desserts.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
I don't like rituals or habits on this matter. I prefer diversity, the pleasure of discovery.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives?
A spoon, to taste dishes.
The last cookbook you read, and what inspired you to pick it up?
An old issue of the "Larousse Gastronomique" from 1938. I found it at an antique store. I was happy to read an old version of the quatre epices ["four spices" mixture] recipe.
All-Star Chef Classic, Friday through Sunday at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles; for more info, visit www.allstarchefclassic.com.
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