Ravioli in a green bowl on a wooden table, photographed from above
Travel, Food & Drink

A Lifetime in the Kitchen: Meet Chef Yannick Alléno

The world-renowned chef exclusively reveals what to expect from his new London restaurant, Pavyllon, and tells us about his culinary journey

Yannick Alléno, whose restaurants have won multiple Michelin stars, is about to open one at London, England’s Four Seasons hotel. Ahead of the summer opening, the chef gives us an exclusive insight into his career and what to expect at his new all-day restaurant, Pavyllon.

You grew up surrounded by people who cook. Can you tell us about this?

I grew up spending a lot of time at my grandmother’s house in rural France. She had 12 sons, so naturally she had a lot of grandchildren and many mouths to feed! My older cousin Jean Marc was a chef and he would often look after us and cook for us, so I guess that’s where my initial interest came from.

Chef Yannick Alléno ion his white uniform standing in the yard of a restaurant, with gray seats and hedges in tubs
Chef Yannick Alléno, whose restaurants have been awarded a total of 12 Michelin stars. As well as the soon-to-open Pavyllon in London, he oversees Pavillon Ledoyen and L'Abysse in Paris, and Le 1947 in Courchevel.

My parents were also in the restaurant trade—they ran multiple bistros around Paris and would move every few years. After school every day my mother would make me a plat du jour—my favorite was a veal parmentier with salad, which she would season with cream and vinegar.

By the age of eight, I already knew I was going to be a chef so I left school at 15 and started my first position at Le Royal Monceau. I worked as a chef in various places over the years, but always chose high-end establishments. The quality of food was something I found to be integral and strived for in my own work, which I guess made me something of a perfectionist—or workaholic.

Did starting your professional career at 15 seem very young at the time?

At that age, you’re on the cusp of adulthood and you’re naturally very excited and keen to become an adult as fast as you can. The biggest feeling for me in that role, and becoming a chef, was the excitement of being introduced to that kind of environment and being taken seriously.

I always say it’s exactly like the movie Ratatouille—the kitchen is incredibly busy and there’s a strict brigade system; you’re a young inexperienced chef and you just want your first big break, a chance to cook alongside the professionals and learn outside of the box. Since then, I’ve nearly always worked in haute cuisine and have always loved the kitchen environment associated with it.

It has always been a dream for me to open in London

Your restaurants have won multiple Michelin stars. What do these accolades mean to you?

Earning Michelin stars was never my goal. I work for my staff and, most importantly, my guests; the end goal for me has always been to deliver exceptional experiences based on strong foundations of taste and quality. It just so happens that this tends to be rewarded by Michelin, so the Michelin stars are just a bonus along that journey!

A steak on a blue and white plate with lobster on top
Pavyllon’s surf and turf with blue lobster and wagyu beef, mille-feuille, and choron sauce beaten with toasted sesame oil. Banner image: Vegetable raviolis with spring extraction broth and perfumed oils.

Why have you chosen to open a Yannick Alléno restaurant in London?

It has always been a dream for me to open in London. The location of one’s restaurant is not a decision to be taken lightly; there are a lot of factors to consider and I chose London for many reasons, but I think had the opportunity arisen earlier on in my career, I wouldn’t have been ready.

London has immense competition—it holds the gold standard for quality and professionalism within the food industry. It also takes a certain level of experience, knowledge, and initiative to succeed in London, and I am now able to bring this to the table. I know now that this is the right time for Pavyllon to open in the city. Additionally, I have always greatly admired Four Seasons—we share a lot of similar values, especially in regard to delivering excellent hospitality, so it’s the perfect partner for me in the ideal city.

What do you love about the city?

It is lively, vibrant and home to some really great chefs, who I’m very lucky to be friends with. There is a great amount of mutual respect between professionals on the London chef scene—when I announced I was opening in London a number of my chef friends who have restaurants here got in touch to offer advice.

London and its inhabitants have amazing energy. I love how they enjoy eating and drinking together here, and how much Londoners love good food. It’s a big social thing here in London: you party together, you eat together. It’s a culture of sharing experiences. I would say above all else for Pavyllon, we are looking to be a neighborhood restaurant, as there is such a distinction between neighborhoods in London. Mayfair is perfect for this.

Strips of sea bass on a blue plate served with a translucent green sauce
Another signature dish from the menu at Pavyllon London is a delicate aiguillette of sea bass with a celery extraction sauce, which can be enjoyed as a main course.

What can diners expect from Pavyllon by Yannick Alléno ?

They can expect a kitchen that offers an intimate cooking experience—all built around an immersive counter. I grew up in bistros, cooking or being cooked for, behind countertops, and I want to deliver this same experience for my guests.

Pavyllon will embody the spirit of gastronomy, but it won’t be uncomfortable or over the top. We are aiming for humble luxury, with a focus on comfortable design, luscious food, and lots of choices. We want to cater for all experiences, from a Friday dinner with friends, a Sunday lunch with family, or a solo weekday lunch between meetings.

Upstairs will be a private dining area, very much its own identity but with equally amazing design, drinks, and food to deliver the ultimate hospitality experience.

The interior designer Chahan Minassian and I worked together very closely on both the restaurant and the private dining area. He will bring fantastic theater to the room—decor is so important to create a perfect atmosphere, and Pavyllon London will be deeply welcoming yet chic at the same time.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the kitchen?

Even when I’m not at work, I cook. It’s a passion I exercise in my private life, too. I love to visit the markets wherever I am, whether that’s France or in Italy, choosing fresh produce and then mixing something up at home. Food brings me closer to my friends and family—eating and drinking together is intimate, so that’s really it for me.


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