Q&A Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse owns and operates 26 restaurants spanning nine countries – three of them, in Monaco, Paris, and London—have been awarded three Michelin stars each in recognition of unparalleled levels of creativity and excellence.

How did the deal in Yonkers come together?

We had met Mark Advent in Monaco a number of years ago and always wanted to collaborate with him on a project. After meeting with the Rooneys, we saw this as a superb opportunity for our new consulting arm: Ducasse Studio.

What are your goals for your new consulting initiative?

Ducasse Studio (DS) is the culinary consulting arm of Alain Ducasse Enterprise (ADE). Our goal for DS is to provide services to a wide range of corporations, retail entities and cultural, government and educational institutions around the world. These services include full-scale concept creation, menu and recipe development, branding, graphic identity, and staff training. Our consulting projects include the Bateaux Parisiens in Paris to a full range of tasty, healthy and nutritious meals created for the European Space Agency.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My main source of inspiration is the way people live. When I prepare for an opening of a new restaurant, for instance, I spend a lot of time getting to know the mood and mind set of the city. I’m also inspired by the products and the producers in a region. To a large extent, a cook’s talent is all about showcasing the quality of the ingredients that are used in each dish. Each good product, grown with love and respect, in its distinctive land, has an incomparable flavor. In fact, it’s my favorite hobby – discovering local foods from the four corners of the world.

What was your approach to building a menu at Pinch?

The first step was to find the right chef for our team. We were thrilled to bring in Fabienne Eymard as our executive chef. She had the combination of experience that we were looking for. Fabienne had worked in Paris so she understands classical cooking. In addition, she has worked in the US. Most recently she was at Benoit in NYC. So we knew she would have a handle on our vision of single and good house made American classics with a fresh twist.

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What types of dishes can customers expect from that vision?

The menu, is broken down into seven main categories: Snacks & Starters, Soups & Salads, Seafood Bar, House Specialties, Sandwiches, Burgers and From The Grill. Appetizers include our signature pinch Macaroni & Cheese with Ham; Mini Beef Short Rib Tacos and Sweet & Spicy Glazed Chicken Wings. Soups like Gratineed Onion Soup with a larger shooter are offered as well as a variety of salads available to be ordered as a half or full portion. Seafood is featured with a raw bar display as well as a selection of unique ceviches such as Scallop with hot yellow pepper paste and fresh heart of palm salad, available a la carte or as a tasting of three.

A selection of 8 ounce Certified Black Angus Beef burgers such as the signature pinch Burger with crispy pork belly, red onion, arugula and a beer cheese sauce (with an optional sunny side up egg) are on the menu along with over six kinds of sandwiches including a Grilled Portobello Mushroom Panini on ciabatta bread with red onions and cheddar cheese; and a Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak on a French baguette with Dijon mustard and watercress. Other entrees (“House Specialities”) include Atlantic Cod Brandade atop a potato puree with lemon, capers, croutons and brown butter and Lamb T-bone Chops with Mediterranean relish and an eggplant tart. Accompanying side dishes like Crushed Potatoes; Creamy Spinach and Wild Mushrooms can be ordered a la carte.

How did you come to your love of food?

My tastes were shaped by the food of my childhood. I grew up on my parents’ farm in Castelsarrasin in Southwest France. It’s a good story. My bedroom was above the kitchen and when my grandmother cooked blanquette de veau for Sunday lunch, the aromas would waft upstairs. You can say that’s where it started.

What’s your approach at Pinch to dessert?

We brought in Executive Pastry Chef Tamber Weiersheuser’s dessert menu, which features contemporary interpretations of American classics. The menu will evolve throughout the seasons but will continuously include signatures like S’mores, Raspberry Sundae, Apple Tart Tatin served with crème fraiche, and Warm Chocolate Cake topped with pistachio ice from our Mix restaurant in Las Vegas.

It seems as if Pinch has decided that beer is the new wine?

We saw a tremendous opportunity to build a menu that we could pair with the 100 New York beers that are on tap. We actually brought in a certified Cicerone who is overseeing our beer selection. In many cases these beers are seasonal and brewed just for Pinch.