Documentary about the master chef serves up international food porn and intriguing ideas about sustainability
THE QUEST OF ALAIN DUCASSE (Gilles de Maistre). 84 min. Subtitled. Opens Friday (June 8). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Director Gilles de Maistre followed multi-Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse around the world for two years, hoping to find out what makes him tick. He didn’t arrive at a conclusive answer, but he did capture lots of gastronomic food porn everywhere from Japan and Monaco to Hong Kong and Brazil.
Ducasse seems to be working constantly, not just in his high-end restaurants like London’s the Dorchester and Ducasse Paris but even in airplanes (where he dispenses cooking tips to the pilots) and train stations (where he samples and critiques cream puffs from one of his kiosks).
Maistre attempts to add suspense to the film by following the two-year evolution of a new Ducasse restaurant at Versailles, and Armand Amar’s propulsive score matches the subject’s perpetual motion.
But there’s still time for beautifully contemplative scenes in the Gobi desert, praising a young chef in Kyoto or comparing notes about produce with a humble French gardener. A quiet confession about three-quarters of the way in, revealed in a noisy hydrofoil, is about as personal as Ducasse gets.
There’s lots to admire in the chef’s progressive food philosophy, which stresses local and sustainable food. And while no one seems to be questioning the fact that only the extremely wealthy can afford to eat at his restaurants (the Versailles spot isn’t even open to the public at night), Maistre captures the man’s philanthropy and generosity in moving sections in Manila and Rio.
Make sure you eat somewhere decent afterwards.