When the Michelin-starred Paris restaurant L’Arpège switched to an all-vegetable menu in 2001, everyone saidAlain Passard was crazy. Now chefs around the world are paying homage to the man who rules both farm and table. Here, he shares his secrets for celebrating summer on the plate.
Alain Passard's idea of the perfect dish for a midsummer barbecue? Throwing 14 young vegetables (and herbs) on the grill for a smoke-kissed, lightly crunchy ratatouille. He uses 4 kinds of peppers, 2 types of squash—even cornichons. You can do it with whatever looks best that day. Even the herbs are grilled. A few seconds on a low grill gives rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage a smoky new identity.
Salade de Fruits Aux Milles Saveurs
"Thousand-flavor fruit salad" is that morning's ripest fruit from Passard's gardens—baby apples and pears included—sliced according to their natural shape, then doused with an intoxicating spiced syrup. Passard's syrup is also delicious with ice cream or yogurt—even stirred into sparkling water.
The vegetable whisperer himself.
Tilling the fields with a donkey-drawn plow, which Passard believes to be gentler on the soil
"When you really respect the seasons, it works all by itself," Passard says.
Mushrooms and bay leaves at Passard's property in Sarthe
Getting ready for the day at L'Arpège, Passard's Michelin-starred Paris restaurant.
Carpaccio de Légumes
This vegetable carpaccio brings home the "what grows together goes together" philosophy that guides L'Arpège. Passard believes that the textures, flavors, and colors of July's bounty are made for one another. All you need is olive oil, salt, pepper—and 10 varieties of mandolined vegetables, plus mesclun and flowers
"There is a lot of enchantent in vegetable cookery," Passard says. "And," he adds, "it is totally transparent."