Alain Senderens: the people around him

Conversations with Alain Senderens, one of France’s greatest chefs

In this episode: the people around him

This is a video series in six parts:

The series is based on short videos that I recorded when I met Senderens at his restaurant.

The conversations are in French but you can choose your language in the YouTube videos:

  1. Turn on “closed captions” by clicking on the CC icon in the lower right-hand corner
  2. Select your preferred language by clicking the cogwheel icon and selecting the Subtitles/CC language (NB: you have to do it in this order)

You can also read the article about Alain Senderens that was the result of this meeting. It was originally published in a different version in Chef Magazine, now published in a more complete version on Forbes and an extended version on Alain Senderens on BKWine Magazine.

The text introductions below are just that, introductions to what you can find on the videos. It is obviously not complete transcriptions.

Alain Senderens and the people around him

Alain Senderens

Alain Senderens, copyright BKWine Photography, this image may NOT be used elsewhere

Meeting Jacques Puisais

Jo Olivereaux, president of Relais et Châteaux, invites Alain Senderens for a weekend in Loire. At dinner Senderens is in front of Jacques Puisais. It was a meeting that was decisive and created a friendship for life, and that completely transformed how Alain Senderens saw the marriage between food and wines.

Alain Senderens discussing with his chef on how to put the final touch on a dessert and match it with wine

Jérôme Banctel, chef at Alain Senderens at the time, presents the latest adjustments of a new dessert: pear sorbet, sakura (also used for red mullet!) and other little magical things. Then the discussion focuses on what is needed as wine to accompany the dessert. A rivesaltes from Cazes? 5 years ? 10 years ? A sercial from Madeira? The whole team, the chef, his second, the pastry chef, the sommelier, the director of the restaurant…. All listen to Alain Senderens.

Lunch is over at Alain Senderens

Lunch is over at Alain Senderens, copyright BKWine Photography, this image may NOT be used elsewhere

Alain Senderens, working together with his wife

The wife of Alain Senderens is often very involved in discussions and decisions at the restaurant. She is particularly involved in the creation and content of the menu.

Madame Bize-Leroy’s Puligny-Montrachet 1979

One day Mme Bize Leroy sends a sample of Puligny-Montrachet 1979. While tasting the wine a dish around porcini mushroom was the obvious answer to Senderens. Porcini prepared with moss, the moss where the mushroom had grown. He often has the wine as a starting point when creating a new dish. It’s easier to create a dish from a wine than the opposite.

Cooking at home and reading

The cooking at home at the Senderens’ is usually quite simple. There is so much gastronomy “at work” that at home it’s often a rib of beef, a roast chicken… And when it’s not work, what does Alain Senderens do? Reading.

Conversations with Alain Senderens, one of the greatest chefs in France. Throughout his career Senderens was a pioneer in French cuisine and especially for the pairing of food and wine. He was one of the first (maybe the first?) to propose a “wine menu” with a different wine to each dish. It was Senderens who gave wine the place it deserved at the table. He also jostled and shocked the gastronomic establishment of France when, in 2005, he “returned” his three Michelin stars to make French haute cuisine more democratic. His restaurant, that carried his name “Alain Senderens” on Place de la Madeleine, nevertheless remained one of the best restaurants in France, but with less luxury. He was also one of the great modernizers of the gastronomy and restaurant business in France, one of the founders of the nouvelle cuisine, and much more.

Alain Senderens died on June 25, 2017. The conversations were recorded on November 10, 2011 at the restaurant Alain Senderens on the Place de la Madeleine in Paris.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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