Dom Pérignon and Alain Ducasse: A Very French Affair

dom perignon

Richard Geoffroy, Chef de Cave, Dom Pérignon and chef Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong. (c) Jason Capobianco/Dom Pérignon

​Nobody takes food and wine more seriously than the French. This becomes evident when you get into a conversation with triple-Michelin-starred Parisian chef Alain Ducasse and Richard Geoffroy, chef de cave of Dom Pérignon.

Alain Ducasse and Richard Geoffroy are at the very pinnacle of French savoir faire; doyens of Gallic food and wine. Having known each other as friends for 25 years, they seem impossibly in sync, answering each other’s questions and completing each other’s sentences.

Ducasse and Geoffroy are lounging in a suite at the InterContinental Hotel in Hong Kong, the new home of Ducasse’s seafood restaurant, Rech. As the first international outpost of Paris’s most famous seafood restaurant, Rech is hosting an exclusive black-tie dinner for which Ducasse has paired a special menu with Dom Pérignon’s P2 2000 Vintage.

This is the so-called Second Plénitude of Dom Pérignon, bottled 17 years ago in the Champagne house’s illustrious, century-old cellar. Owned by Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon is a vintage-only brand of Champagne, meaning that it is not made in weak years, and all grapes used to make the wine were harvested in the same year. So when the cellar master decides to launch a new vintage, it’s considered a special occasion.

How did this partnership come about, I wonder? Almost simultaneously, both men give the most Gallic of shrugs.

“Bof. C’était naturelle!” says Ducasse, and Geoffroy agrees with a smile. “It’s also to demonstrate how the universality of the taste of Dom Pérignon can adapt to the local produce where we’re going to deliver the menu — in this case, Hong Kong. Our clients are curious, they are disloyal, they like to switch from one thing to the other — zapping, we call it. Our challenge — and we’re lucky to have clients with this curiosity — is that they can absorb new experiences."

Ducasse adds: "My role as a chef is to capture that and give them access to new experiences. The idea is through Dom Pérignon and Alain Ducasse cuisine, you will be transported to new horizons.”

Tonight’s menu will draw around 30 clients and influencers, among the first to sample the P2 2000. It’s an intense, crisp and vibrant Champagne. Food pairing takes repeated trial and error, says Ducasse.

“You have to find a way to make the wine react through pairings," Geoffroy says. "It’s possible to provoke it with a strong beef stock or ravioli of whelks in parsley. But it’s far more interesting to draw it out through small touches within rich, complete meals: fried artichokes, sea bass, peach salad and Kombu; grilled potato chips, milk foam and caviar.”

However, tonight Ducasse has planned something different, serving classic Hong Kong dishes such as crispy prawn spring rolls, juicy roast duck, stir-fried vegetables, smoky eggplant and special fried rice. Of course, it works beautifully.

“It’s all about seduction in a sense, when we think about the menu,” says Ducasse. “We have adapted the DNA of French cuisine to the local Hong Kong produce — that was part of the challenge. That’s the beauty of it.”

Geoffroy gets the last word. “Often I’m asked what makes our Champagne so special, and I say it’s about an adventure. It’s a journey to the people, coming to Hong Kong and conveying the scheme of harmony,” he says. “If there’s one thing we strongly share, which could be French in a way, it’s that sense of harmony.”

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