Five questions for an audacious cook
Passionate about fine produce and good, authentic cooking, chef Francis Fauvel earned his stripes in Alain Ducasse’s kitchens in Monaco and now manages his own team aboard the Ducasse sur Seine. Before setting sail on the Ponant cruise Saveurs, Vignes et Océan, he tells us a bit about his culinary travels off gastronomy’s beaten track. Learn a little about this chef in our interview below.
You recently took the helm at the Ducasse sur Seine’s restaurant. How did this ambitious project begin?
Francis Fauvel : It’s a fantastic project that began in May 2018 but was officially launched in September. I had the privilege of drawing up the menu with Alain Ducasse, then composing the teams and, lastly, putting it all into place in the boat. We’re lucky to serve on the world’s most beautiful waterway and offer gastronomical cuisine prepared entirely on-board.
Of course, that entails certain restrictions, starting with the kitchen space available. Fortunately, our kitchen is especially well laid out! This limited space also requires us to work without reserves, so we use a just-in-time methodology. Lastly, we have to be careful not to use too much electricity and water. It’s an all-electric boat with a four-hour range.
You started working with Alain Ducasse at the Louis VX restaurant in Monaco: what are your memories of this experience?
I remember every detail! It was an extraordinary experience, and I learned the basics of Mr. Ducasse’s culinary style. It was also my first restaurant with three Michelin stars, and one where many renowned chefs have worked. The three priorities there are selecting ideal produce; taste; and mastering cooking and preparation techniques.
You’re going to be serving on the Ponant cruise Saveurs, Vignes et Océan: what do you want to share with the passengers?
I want them to enjoy the type of dining they would experience in my restaurant. I’m going to draw up a specific menu and add a personal touch, a little piece of my identity.
Has there been a culinary trip that has made a particularly big impression on you?
Recently, I was lucky enough to visit Japan. I only had Western notions of how sushi and maki are made, but over there I discovered a completely different reality. From produce and cooking techniques to seasoning, everything was new to me. That trip made a big impression on me.
Is there a surf-and-turf combination you love to cook?
Sea bass paired with a red wine sauce with poultry wing tips. I like this pairing, as it really lays the emphasis on this carnivorous fish.