With more than 20 restaurants and about as many Michelin stars under his toque — and with a new cookbook, “Nature” ($45, Rizzoli), in stores — you might expect chef Alain Ducasse to be intimidating. Yet when we met over croissants at Adour in the St. Regis hotel (923 16th St. NW; 202-509-8000) to dish about the new lunch menu he created for the restaurant, he was wholesome and accessible, with a charming French accent. Which is exactly how we’d describe the new midday service.
What’s the new menu like?
I like to summarize it as simple, healthy and good. I aim to lower the intake of animal proteins and introduce more fresh produce. It’s about making your diet reflect your consideration for the planet. Very often I’m able to convert meat lovers and show them the potential of vegetables. But if you want something more substantial there will be steak. Taking steak away from Americans is like taking bread away from the French.
How often will the options rotate?
The menu will be reflective of what’s available locally and at Amish farms I work with. Right now you’ll see ingredients like radish, fennel, peas, asparagus and morels. But later in the season we’ll move into fresh herbs, lettuces, fava beans and zucchini flowers.
In what ways will lunch be different than dinner at Adour?
It’s not a formal menu. You will be able to have lunch for under $30 with an appetizer, main course and a glass of wine or dessert. We are evolving with the demand of our clientele. And this space transforms beautifully throughout the day.
Do you have a garden at home?
I have a farmhouse in the South of France where I keep a garden. From June to September I manage to thrive off of what’s coming from the garden. It’s life-changing to be able to experience fresh vegetables the day they are harvested.
You have restaurants in eight countries. What have you learned about global cuisine?
I’m traveling 200 days a year, and I have a new experience every time I step into a restaurant. There’s a healthy culinary competition going on in the world, and the pace at which you can access information and what other people are doing is fascinating. There’s such a strong exchange of knowledge and experiences.
Is there a particular restaurant you look forward to when you visit D.C.?
I can’t say one is the best because there is such variety. One day you can eat in a fine-dining restaurant, and the next day you can go to a food truck and still have a good meal. In fact I’m inspired by the food truck movement in D.C. I’m thinking about doing something similar in Paris.