Yannick Alléno is one of the world’s top chefs, with 15 Michelin stars to his name. We caught up with him just before the launch of Pavyllon London – his first restaurant in the capital
Words: Selma Day
Yannick Alléno is one of the world’s leading chefs, holding 15 Michelin stars across his 14 restaurants, in places such as Dubai, Monaco, Seoul and Courcheval. In Paris, his three restaurants at Pavillon Ledoyen hold six stars – three at Alléno Paris, two at L’Abysse and one at Pavyllon, making it the most star-rated independent establishment in the world.
Now he is bringing his culinary magic to Mayfair – at the Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane. So why now? “It has always been a dream for me to open in London, but I think if, had the opportunity arisen earlier on in my career, I wouldn’t have been ready – and you really have to make sure you are at the right level,” he says.
“London has immense competition, it holds the gold standard for quality and professionalism within the food industry. I love London – it is lively, vibrant and home to some really great chefs, who I’m very lucky to be friends with. There is a great amount of mutual respect between professionals on the London chef scene – when I announced I was opening in London a number of my chef friends who have restaurants here got in touch to offer advice.”
Pavyllon London will offer innovative yet unpretentious plates created in an open kitchen. Renowned designer Chahan Minassian is behind the interiors, which “merge the chic conviviality of a Parisian residence with the familiarity of a British club”. The space, comprising a restaurant, bar, private dining room and expansive al fresco terrace, is designed to encapsulate the essence of Alléno’s belief in the kitchen as a performance.
“Chahan and I worked together very closely on the design of both the restaurant and the private dining area,” says Alléno. “He will bring fantastic theatre to the room – decor is so important to create a wider atmosphere and Pavyllon London will be deeply welcoming yet chic at the same time. The overarching design scheme will combine Parisian style with characteristics of a Mayfair members’ club through the use of contrasting textures in complementary tones.”
Since the beginning of his career, Alléno has become known for his reinvention of modern French cuisine, dishes rooted in French gastronomy but taking inspiration from modern techniques and seasonal ingredients.
The menu will reflect his revolutionary approach to sauce-making – an extraction method that involves cooking in a vacuum to a highly specific time and temperature to harvest the purest flavour from each ingredient.
These are then cryo-concentrated to capture their essence, leading to dishes that are rich in flavour, yet of guests’ wellbeing by reducing the amount of sugar, and salt without compromising taste.
Dishes include Badaboum organic egg with Osciètre caviar, sorrel and Salish smoked salt; brioche-crusted sea bass quenelles with “Billy by” emulsion and mussels; and creamy pounded langoustine with potato and basil tuiles and white onion emulsion.
The menu will, of course, have a British twist. “The dishes are a British expression of my signature modern French cuisine, with seasonal British produce being the key offer,” says Alléno. “I was lucky enough to acquire some incredible contacts to work with 100 per cent local producers: Neal’s Yard for cheese, Aubrey Allen for meat, Flying Fish for fish, Keltic for lobster and scallops and Ampersand Dairy for table butter… to create dishes with the most beautiful products of the region such as the king crab and the wagyu beef and lobster.”
Alléno, who brings with him a stellar team led by executive chef Andy Cook, head chef Benjamin Ferra Y Castell, restaurant manager Janice Wongso, head sommelier Baptiste Beaumard, head mixologist Michele Lombardi and head bartender Ivan Arena, says he is looking forward to spending as much time as possible at Pavyllon London, splitting his time between London and Paris.
He’s already checked out some of the local restaurants – “I recently had a lovely dinner at Atherton’s restaurant Pollen Street Social” – and is looking forward to becoming a part of the Mayfair food and drink scene.
“I am extremely excited to be bringing Pavyllon to Mayfair,” he says. “The concept behind Pavyllon was to create a neighbourhood restaurant with a luxurious yet humble feel. Pavyllon will embody the spirit of gastronomy but it won’t be uncomfortable or over the top.
“It will cater to Friday dinners with friends, Sunday lunches with family or solo weekday lunches between meetings. Upstairs will be a private dining area – very much its own identity but with equally excellent design, drinks and food to deliver the ultimate hospitality experience.
“The location of one’s restaurant is not a decision to be taken lightly; there are a lot of factors to consider and I chose Mayfair for many reasons, including its lively and vibrant energy as well as the high standards and calibre of restaurants within the area that I wanted to exceed.”