Going vegetarian would probably be easier if we all had the cooking skills of Alain Passard. The French chef surprised the world back in 2001 when he turned away from red meat in view of the mad cow disease crisis – despite being famous as a maître rotisseur (roast chef). Now, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of his Michelin-starred restaurant Arpège, the organizers of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant have decided to award him the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication.
Nothing feels more royal on the plate than a slab of steak unless you walk into Arpège, where Passard has done up humble vegetables like beets, turnips, carrots, and fennel with such expertise that they can easily take their weight in the culinary spotlight. Beets are given the sushi treatment, crème brulée is reinvented using garlic, and spinach perfumed with a hazelnut butter. His influence has even spread down to other chefs like Alain Ducasse and René Redzepi – both focusing their menu to accommodate a more vegetarian slant. Of course, Arpège still serves fish and poultry aside for its gastronomic wizardry with vegetables.
A plus for having plant-based cuisine is the ability to access the ingredients first-hand yourself. In order to ensure the finest crop, Passard sources his veggies from one of three organic gardens that he owns within a 200km radius. He commented in a statement: “The most beautiful cookbook is dictated by nature, and we are merely the spokesmen inspired by that”.
Passard joins Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon, Juan Mari Arzak, Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller in the canon of World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement winners. The winners themselves will be announced this June 13 in New York City.