Perhaps the ultimate French chef's chef, Alain Passard is famous for mostly staying in France. He does little in the way of the festival circuit and appearances outside Paris, the home of his three-starred restaurant, L'Arpège. Which makes the news that he's coming to Australia for the first time in March all the more interesting, not least when you learn that his destination isn't a glittering awards ceremony or a high-powered chef conference but a TAFE college in Tasmania - the Launceston campus of TasTAFE. What's more, he's joined for the institution's Great Chefs Series in March by two other names that loom large in the international restaurant scene: Christian Puglisi of Copenhagen restaurants Relæ and Manfred's, and Dominique Crenn from Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.
Credit Christopher McGimpsey, the tourism and hospitality school's education manager and an alumnus of such landmark Melbourne restaurants as Est Est Est and Jacques Reymond, with aiming high in trying to get the best guest talent to visit his students. No matter your occupation, he says, encouragement or insight from the pioneers in your chosen field can not only motivate you, but change your whole outlook on your vocation. "We're seeking to manufacture those moments through innovative means."
This year McGimpsey brought such well-regarded local names as Tetsuya Wakuda, Donovan Cooke, Jacques Reymond, Mark Best and Dan Hong to the campus, but in snaring Passard, he has landed quite the coup. Graduates of Arpège represent a who's-who of contemporary restaurant cooking, while this year saw Passard named number-one on a list of the world's 100 best chefs voted by two- and three-starred chefs in France's Le Chef magazine, and the World's 50 Best Restaurants awarded him its lifetime achievement prize in New York.
And while this is great news for the hospitality students of Launceston (and hopefully the diners of Tasmania for a generation to come), it's also a win because Passard will team up with local restaurants to cook for the public while they're here. Alain Passard will cook a five-course lunch on Wednesday 29 March at Josef Chromy winery and Crenn and Puglisi are also teaming up with TasTAFE Drysdale' in delivering a 10 course degustation at TasTAFE Drysdale (Launceston)'s restaurant on Saturday 1 April, Dominque Crenn will partner with Goaty Hill winery on Saturday 8 April, and Christian Puglisi will partner with Tamar Ridge on Wednesday 12 April.
Details of pricing and ticketing are available from greatchefsseries.com.au.