Alexis Delassaux. His name might intrigue you, and for a good reason: his personality is as unforgettable as his colorful cuisine. Owner of his restaurant, Luz Verde in Paris, the 33-year-old Franco-Mexican chef put his heart on his sleeve and gave it everything to be where he is today. He has also learned from the greatest chefs, among the most renowned institutions in Paris. Launched into the world of cooking a little by chance after a 2-year BEP in cooking, his passion quickly leads the way. Portrait of a chef “toqué” (Gault & Millau) who aims for the stars...
Meet Alexis Delassaux
A precocious and precise chef
A precocious and precise chef
After several years working in the kitchens, he started feeling that he wanted to explore somewhere else, to explore outside of Paris. “I decided to go to Mexico for six months. I have uncles and cousins who live there (his mother is Mexican), which allowed me to travel all over the country. I didn’t work but I ate a lot of Mexican food! (laughs) It allowed me to discover my mother's roots, this culture that I had yet to learn about” says Alexis who, after six months, was (already) missing Paris. “This trip really gave me wings and allowed me to take flight. It was rewarding on all levels."
After barely setting foot back on French soil, and at the height of his 26 years of age, he finally decided to be his own chef and open his restaurant: Le Luz Verde in the 9th arrondissement of the French capital. "At the time, when it came to Mexican food, there wasn't much in Paris yet! I was having trouble finding the flavors I had tasted in Mexico. I also wanted to share and introduce Parisians to these unique flavors. That is when I decided to delve into this niche."
"I like the principle of turning your plate, of sharing it, without fuss."
With the ambition of opening a restaurant offering a different experience, he wanted to give life to a simple place, in his image. “A friendly place where you come with your friends. With large tables and lots of plates to share, "says the one who puts the emphasis on flavor and seasonal products. There are simple dishes at the restaurant, like a pork shoulder to share on the table. “It arrives, caramelized on the table, and the customers cut and divide it themselves. What nobody knows is that to achieve this meal, there is a 48-hour cooking time, a marinade and exact regulated temperatures. There is technique behind the scenes, and simplicity when it comes to tasting and enjoying. The customer’s satisfaction is what matters most to me," says the chef who offers a "very small menu" that he changes regularly. "If I have 14 servings of scallops, once it's done, we make arrangements to do something else the next day. I prefer that the customer comes back and tastes something new every time” says Alexis.
At Luz Verde, the customer is king, even when it comes to the easily replicated recipes. Just as his preparations based on the Cointreau liqueur. “We offer different flavored cocktails. There is one rose flavored, one pineapple. There is also a dessert for which I added Cointreau to create that link. I even made a spicy Cointreau-based sauce with a very tender meat that goes perfectly with the acidity found in the lemons... It is above all a marriage of flavors which allows the mixture of the two to create a pleasant tasting sensation, giving each flavor their moment,” says the man who also made a Cointreau mousse.
Faced with the success of his first establishment, he took the opportunity to open Le Chiquitin, a take-out restaurant opposite Luz Verde, where he again ties together French and Mexican flavors. It includes, among other delicacies, his grandmother's unforgettable chocolate cake. “It's a classic in my family. We eat it almost every time we get together. It's super simple, but it's also delicious. It is one of my fondest memories from my childhood: my grandmother delectable cake is iconic."
“I don't think I'm a genius. We are hard workers first."
What does cooking mean to him? "Cooking is first and foremost about the many encounters I have with others. It is also a manual trade. You need to practice in order to improve and find your way. I remember at the start of my career I didn't even season my dishes… I mostly focused on aesthetics, on presentation, I didn't realize there was something else behind it. It is only as I met with chefs, without whom I wouldn’t be here today, that I truly understood that.” explains Alexis, who doesn’t think he has a special gift. "I just try to bring the dishes that I enjoy to life. But I don't feel like a pioneer. I learned and took what I liked from each of the chefs, and then I managed to make my own mix. I consider myself to be a “hard worker” above all."
His favorite ingredients and favorite meals? "I love to cook fish. It's fine, noble, it cooks quickly. But I also like to cook a nice prime rib on the barbecue with my family, for me there is nothing better. It's one of my favorite dishes to cook and eat. I very much enjoy braised cooking, there is this comforting side that is dear to me..." explains the chef enthusiastically, and less attracted to baking. “Baking takes discipline while I cook mostly on instinct. I prefer to eat it! (laughs) Baking is a bit more complicated for me, except for my grandmother's cake which I love very much."
In his image, Alexis’s cultures, both French and Mexican, are reflected in his dishes which are rich in flavor and meaning, yet easy to cook. Sunny, well balanced and traditional cuisine, where a passion for good produce mingles with a love for its spicy origins.