Perhaps 10 minutes into my interview with Alain Ducasse, the Michelin-star hoarder who was in town today to preview his forthcoming lunch menu at Adour, a surprise visitor arrived at our table. Michel Richard rolled in, looking ready to sip champagne at the Georgetown Yacht Club, as if hoping to continue his 64th birthday celebration from the night before.
The two chefs had plenty to talk about — in French, which left moi (about the only word in the language I know) on the outside looking in, just a geek on the fringe as the cool kids talk between themselves. But I did get a chance to ask Richard about the closing of Michel in Tysons Corner, a subject on which he had been silent until now. He seemed eager to talk.
“When you lose money, you stop,” Richard says, as succinct and authoritative as a traffic sign.
“When the Ritz-Carlton asked me to be involved with them, I was laughing,” he continued. “I knew it was a bad location. . . . Some of my partners, they find the location sexy. I never find the location sexy, but we tried it.”
The location was tough, the chef acknowledged, and not just because it was inaccessible to many. “The press doesn’t talk about the Ritz-Carlton,” he noted. “It’s okay. It’s okay. I learn.”
Richard also thought there might have been some misconceptions in the public’s mind about the restaurant, a more casual concept than the chef’s Citronelle flagship in Georgetown, and its location inside the Ritz. “The Ritz-Carlton is too fancy,” he says. “You have to dress up. If you are wearing the jeans, you feel like you would not be welcome.”
“It’s over,” he adds, a note of finality. “Au revoir.”
At this point, as if to change the subject, Ducasse spoke up in French. “The chef is on a mission to experience one of the food trucks in D.C. while he is here,” says Sonja Toulouse, marketing manager for Alain Ducasse Enterprises, who served as her boss’s interpreter.
“Jose Andres,” Ducasse says on his own. “He’s around.”
As I begin the Twitter search to see whether the Pepe truck is within sniffing distance of Adour, Ducasse drops another smart bomb on our table. “The chef wants to do something in Paris,” Toulouse interprets. “A food truck.”
Boulangeepicier (or BE), Ducasse’s combination bakery, restaurant and shop, could provide the prepared foods for the truck, he says. Sandwiches, salads, simply prepared vegetables.
“It’s easy for me to have a food truck,” Ducasse says himself.
And with that, the celebrity chef food truck wars are officially underway.