A BRIEF HISTORY OF… ALAIN CHAPEL
Food & Business Tips
Alain Chapel was regarded as one of the finest French chefs. Born in Lyon in December 1937, he received his early training by working in the kitchen of his Father’s bistro and inn. After training in other local shops, Chapel worked with Fernand Point at “La Pyramide” in Vienne. In 1967, he returned to the family bistro, now a restaurant, and gained it a Michelin star. Upon the death of his father in 1970, Chapel opened the inn as a hotel and in 1973 he received his third Michelin star at the restaurant. At this time only 19 restaurants in France had received this highest of honours. Among his most famous dishes were stuffed calf’s ears with parsley and truffled-stuffed chicken in pork bladder .This was cooked in a rich chicken reduction stock. New York Times food writer, Craig Claiborne praised Chapel’s “gateau de foies blonds” as “one of the absolute cooking glories of this generation”. For the unfamiliar, this dish consisted of pureed chicken livers and beef marrow with a mousse-like lobster cream. A seven course meal was not uncommon. While these dishes do not reflect nouvelle cuisine as many chefs now think of it, a closer look at the cuisine and cooking methods of that era may be food for thought. The Gault Millau Guide to France described a meal at Mr. Chapels restaurant as like a “symphony”.
Alain Chapel died July 10,1990 of a stroke. At the time he was planning to open a restaurant in Florida and was a frequent visitor to the United States. His wife Suzanne and his sons kept the hotel open after his death. Chef Phillip Jousse was elevated to head chef and had full charge of the menu under the condition that Chapel’s classics were featured.
In the 1950’s young French chefs Bocuse, Guerarrd and Chapel invented what was to become nouvelle cuisine. This style replaced some of the heavier sauces, featured small portions and large plates with food featured as art. Today, French cuisine is often a combination of the two.
Jules Pernell; CEC, CCE, FMP