BY ADAM ERACE
Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno uses cutting-edge sous vide techniques to put a modern spin on classic sauces. Here, the French chef—who runs a global culinary empire with his Alléno, Stay, and Terroir Parisien restaurants—shares the secrets to his culinary success.
Sous-Vide: How did you get started cooking professionally?
Yannick Alléno: I started my training at the age of 15, learning from the very best: Manuel Martinez, Jacky Fréon, Gabriel Biscay, Roland Durand, Martial Enguehard, and Louis Grondard, six award winners of the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Consequently, classic French cuisine, excellence, and rigor ruled the first 25 years of my career. My first experiences were at Le Louis XIII with Manuel Martinez and at the Hôtel Lutétia with Jacky Fréon, then I was welcomed by Gabriel Biscay’s team at the Royal Monceau before joining the Hotel Sofitel Porte de Sevres and working closely with chefs Roland Durand and Martial Enguehard.
SV: But it was your family that was your first culinary influence, true?
YA: My parents used to manage small bistros in the Parisian suburbs, and they clearly passed on their passion to me. Food is a family tradition. My grandmother, native from the Lozère region in the south of France, was also a great inspiration. She taught me a lot about the quality of the products and the importance of healthy food.
SV: How were you introduced to sous vide?
YA: I started using sous vide in the ’90s, when I was working alongside Roland Durand at Sofitel in Paris. The restaurant was a huge business to run every day, and sous vide offered us the solution we needed. Roland was a master of the technique, too, as he had had a fabulous education thanks to Bruno Goussault, the originator of this way of cooking.
SV: What do you like about cooking sous vide?
YA: Thanks to the sous vide technique, we put ourselves at the product’s service, and we can truly master cooking using the right temperature. By taking the product away from the destructive fire, we let it develop its purest flavors without any other material addition than water. It has allowed us to develop our Extractions® process with Bruno. It took us almost two years to achieve a great result, but it has opened such a new scope in terms of cooking! It would never have been possible without sous vide and Bruno’s mastery.
SV: How does the Extractions® process work?
YA: By cooking an ingredient sous vide, at the right temperature, we are able to find the purity of the product and preserve its natural salinity. We then perform Extractions® through cryo-concentration, which involves freezing the liquid and spinning it in a centrifuge. We blend these different Extractions® to get our modern sauces, which are lighter, tastier, and healthier than traditional sauces.
Chef Alléno’s proprietary Extractions® aren’t available to the home cook, but the spirit of Alléno’s sauces can still be captured in your kitchen. Give Yannick Alléno’s Brown Gravy recipe a try!