Yannick Alleno is the chef at the Meurice. He oversees not only the gastronomic kitchen but he's the chef-chef of all the food service at the hotel. He just received a second Michelin star – in just his first year at the Meurice – for his inventive and personal cuisine. One of his signature dishes is Sea Urchin Filled with Bouillabaisse jelly, Star Anise Cream, and a Beignet of Sea Urchin Corals. On top of all this, the media loves him – he's a great interview and he's very photogenic.
Can you understand why I might be a little nervous meeting with him?
But M. Moret – the Chef de Cuisine at ADPA – told me to call up – so I did. And M. Alleno said to come in – so I did.
The Meurice is just up the street from the Crillon – across from the Tuileries – and next door to Angelina's – known for their hot chocolate. This I know from one day that I let Karli take us wherever she wanted – funny what time off, the best dog in the world, and a Carte Orange can do to you in Paris.
But this meeting comes the morning after the night of the dinner at Ducasse. I am hung over – I'm never hung over – I never drink enough to be hung over. But the day I'm to meet Yannick Alleno, I'm definitely hung over.
I'm early but cannot find the service entrance. I ask the doorman and he asks me if I'm sure that M. Alleno wanted me to go through the service entrance. Interesting question – no I wasn’t sure – but pretty sure. It's behind the hotel – on the next small street.
Security consists of a funny but strict little old guy. He calls down to tell the chef that a beautiful Asian girl was there to see him – wink, wink – funny. I think I would have been offended in my former life.
He sends me down and I find myself in the somewhat familiar white labyrinth that is the underground/background world to great Paris hotels.
I find myself in a kitchen with a few young guys working – all wearing dark blue aprons. One asks me if I'm looking for the chef – then shows me over to the chef's office – where M. Alleno is just seeing another guy out.
He invites me in and we talk a little. Bottom line – his gastro kitchen is full. I might be able to work in The Winter Garden - the brasserie - but I'd have to meet with that chef next week. But he assures me – don't worry – we will find you a job in Paris.
We leave it that I'll call back next week when the other chef's back from vacation – February's the other month of vacations in France.
I'm deeply grateful for M. Alleno's assurances – but still feel left hanging.
But to answer the other big question on your mind - yes, he's as handsome in person as he is in photos.