He’s been awarded six Michelin stars in his career, and under his expert eye, each restaurant at One&Only The Palm is a unique experience. But who is French chef Yannick Alléno and what’s behind his cuisine or his crusade to bring a sort of renaissance to classic French cuisine.
Join us as we talk to him about his portfolio of acclaimed international restaurants and his reputation for food creations that are memorable to the last bite.
Meet chef Yannick Alléno
GLH: Hello Yannick. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us; It’s a true honor. So, our first question is this: Where does your passion for cooking come from?
Chef Yannick Alléno: I think the kitchen fairy waved a wand over my cradle when I was a child because I always knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to become growing up. I didn’t know I was going to become a renowned French chef, but I knew I wanted to cook for sure.
GLH: And your parents introduced you to cooking very young. Did this influence you?
Chef Yannick Alléno: I think all parents have an impact on their children’s careers. In my case, my father let me go to work very young, at age 15. He had the courage to let me take an apprenticeship and he welcomed my choices. My cousin, Jean-Marc, who sometimes looked after me, was a cook in Lozère at the time and he used to take me into the kitchen with him, and I loved to sit and watch him. I loved this world of culinary effervescence!
GLH: Can you tell us a bit more about how you joined One&Only The Palm?
Chef Yannick Alléno: It’s a story about fateful meetings! I met Olivier Louis at Le Meurice, who is the Managing Director of One&Only The Palm and One&Only Royal Mirage, and he explained to me that he wanted to open a small resort in Dubai. That was a new concept at the time since Dubai was mostly high-rise buildings. He explained to me that he wanted to bring French cuisine to the UAE. Dubai being a world hub, you come across so many cultures and different types of cuisine. And I really enjoy working with Oliver Louis. He is a remarkable person with great mental gymnastics, I learnt a lot from him and I am particularly fond of One&Only The Palm for its air of being a preserved place, like a bubble beyond the reaches of time.
GLH: When One&Only The Palm was opened in 2010, did you have any specific instructions other than bringing true French cuisine to Dubai?
Chef Yannick Alléno: Olivier Louis and I imagined the restaurant with the customer in mind. You have to be able to cater to each customer differently, but also not to close yourself to the outside world. The 101 restaurant came a bit later, like the icing on a cake, and it’s today one of the most popular restaurants in Dubai.
GLH: Where did you find the inspiration for the cuisine of 101?
Chef Yannick Alléno: We created three restaurants and 101 is inspired by the French Riviera. Its cuisine is resolutely French, with an ode to different products and that’s essential to me. In Dubai, all products are imported so we manage to have, for example, Australian and Japanese produce, which is not always possible in France.
We also have a fine dining restaurant, STAY, and the very important Zest, which is an all-day dining venue where a child could have a fantastic hamburger.
The important thing is to pay attention to every detail, and for me, even a sandwich has a great deal of importance. It can be a testament to the quality of the restaurant. I put as much attention in a club sandwich as I do a three-star dish.
I truly think the burger at One&Only The Palm is one of the best in Dubai.
GLH: During our stay at One&Only The Palm, we met the chef at STAY. He had great things to say about you. How do you work with them to create the dishes the restaurants serve?
Chef Yannick Alléno: The most important thing is the freedom each chef has. I’m there as a tutor to try and push my executive chefs in the right direction, and to give them advice and help, but I strongly believe that the era of “yes chef” is gone. Today, the ideas of every person in the kitchen count. I encourage the creativity of each of my chefs.
GLH: When travelling to Dubai, do you stay at One&Only The Palm? And do you have a favorite room?
Chef Yannick Alléno: Of course! I stayed there almost three weeks before the opening so I had the opportunity to see many rooms. The latest one is 909, facing the beach, but all the rooms are extremely comfortable and luxurious, but above all else, very instinctive…something I appreciate very much especially after a long trip.