Alain Ducasse: Qatar

Alain Ducasse in May 2012

Why do celebrity chefs open restaurants in difficult places?

Take Alain Ducasse‘s recent decision to open a restaurant in the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar this year. He already runs restaurants in Paris, London, New York, Russia, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Monaco, and Mauritius.

This stunning museum, designed by I. M. Pei, and opened with much fanfare in 2010, is nevertheless a tough place to operate. It is likely that the museum restaurant will be dry, just like Gordon Ramsay‘s Maze, now closed. Eating fine French food without access to fine wine is a bit like eating mezze without a raki or ouzo. It just doesn’t taste as good.

However, foreign restaurants have their purpose. They serve as advertisements for a chef’s other establishments. They serve as a training posting for up-and-coming chefs in a celebrity chef’s organization – a way of keeping chefs who need a promotion. And, they are lucrative. Ducasse, himself, will likely only cook at the restaurant a couple of times a year after the opening. He’ll risk very little, while being paid handsomely to extend his brand and global appeal for further deals.

Hard to say “Non.”

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