Paris Abuzz After Chef Alain Ducasse Replaced By Jean Imbert

The Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, where Jean Imbert has taken over from Alain Ducasse.

© Shutterstock


The Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, where Jean Imbert has taken over from Alain Ducasse.

© Shutterstock

Haute cuisine quake

It's been described as an "earthquake in haute cuisine" and in French gastronomy that is probably an understatement. Filling the shoes of Alain Ducasse, the most Michelin-starred chef in the world, in one of France's fanciest restaurants was always going to be a hard job. But the appointment of 40-year old Jean Imbert, who hasn't yet won any stars but went viral on social media after winning the TV competition Top Chef, has tongues wagging. Imbert has kept quiet since he started at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée's brasserie this month, with the restaurant preparing to reopen in 2022 – but not everyone else is keeping silent.

Unworthy or daring?

Food critic Francois-Regis Gaudry described Imbert's appointment as all too “bling-bling”, AFP reported. “He has neither the CV nor the experience for such a place,” he was quoted as saying. Le Figaro’s food critic Emmanuel Rubin, said the appointment was “unworthy” of a top hotel. Some chefs, however, have been more encouraging. “You can have a great experience even from a chef without any stars,” Glenn Viel, the youngest French chef to earn three stars, told AFP. “It’s quite daring, quite ballsy and it could attract a younger clientele looking for something new."

Ducasse goes plant-based

While the speculation swirls around his successor, Alain Ducasse is opening a new fine dining restaurant in Paris called Sapid, which will be 95% plant-based. His gastronomic empire, which stretches from London and Singapore to the US, still holds 18 Michelin stars. For some the shift in focus, and Jean Imbert's rise to the top are a sign of the times, with starred restaurants including those at the Prince de Galles and Shangri-La hotels, closing their doors.

You can read our profile of Alain Ducasse here.