À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne

À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne

Following on from Arnold d’Alger and Chloé Hennequez, it is now the turn of Alexia Duchêne, a travelling chef, to invite us to share her festive preparations and bring our À Table Avec series to a close. A moment shared with her partner, the photographer and video maker Ronan Le May. We meet them both in Paris, the young woman’s home base. In this Haussmannian apartment, with a view over the grey slate roofs of the 8th arrondissement, where they have been living for over a year. An interior furnished with care, just like the Christmas table, set for the occasion. A lover of entertaining, Franco-British Alexia pays “particular attention to this aspect (…) and not only at Christmas! ». Details, like beautiful, delicate glasses “for tasting good champagnes!” The elegance of a travertine tabletop is enhanced by bouquets of flowers on either side and tableware with hints of gold. Tone-on-tone, with an emphasis on understatement. “The table has to have room to breathe!” she laughs. But only in terms of decoration! Because on the plate, Alexia’s multi-cultural origins take precedence. A multitude of culinary memories that she is still accumulating from family reunions from Cairo to Paris, year after year.

You can find the first two episodes of À Table Avec, devoted to Arnold d’Alger and Chloé Hennequez, in our Portraits section.

Sapin de noël chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
Table en travertin chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne

For the end of year celebrations the table has to have room to breathe! I like to play with tone-on-tone arrangements, with my travertine table and plates with hints of gold.

Tablée chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
Table en travertin chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris

Alexia, could you introduce yourself, please?

Alexia

My name is Alexia Duchêne, I’m 26 years old, and I’m a travelling chef based in Paris. I am Franco-British and grew up in Paris. Then I travelled, and I cooked in several places, including London, Copenhagen, New York, Paris and Arles

What dishes do you enjoy cooking over Christmas and new year?

 

Alexia

We’ll be having fish for the family celebration this year. I want to give priority to seafood and plant-based products! For the main course, I’m thinking of cooking a whole turbot in the oven with a champagne sauce and trout roe accompanied by some vegetables and mashed potatoes; simple and effective.

You come from a family with many and varied roots. How does this rich mix of cultures influence your approach to the festive season?

Alexia

The fact that I come from a multi-cultural family means that I am very spontaneous about the holidays. We switch “destinations” regularly, between Paris and Athens mainly, but sometimes Cairo, London, and Normandy in the past, and now Bordeaux. So it can be a very small Christmas (in Paris we are 5) or a very big one, like in Cairo (40 people). We don’t necessarily have a culinary ‘tradition’ at the end of the day as it changes all the time. The only one, really, is when my grandmother cooks in Greece. She usually likes to do a roast ham with pineapple (very British) with Brussels sprouts and jacket potatoes. It’s very simple, but I love it!

Chaise laine bouclette chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne
Table chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
Table chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne
Deserte

What are your tips for setting a festive table?

Alexia

I love a beautifully set table, and it’s true that I pay particular attention to this aspect when I entertain, not only at Christmas… I like elegant, rather understated tables for the end of year celebrations. The table has to have room to breathe! I like to play with tone-on-tone arrangements, with my travertine table and plates with hints of gold. Beautiful, delicate glasses for tasting good champagnes. That’s very important! And bouquets of flowers in the room, I’m a big fan of flowers.

Where will we find you doing your festive shopping?

Alexia

For all things culinary at this time of year, I shop at Terroir d’Avenir for my vegetables, Ebisu for great fish, Ten Belles for bread, Le Bourdonnec for meat, Arnaud Nicolas for the best foie gras and Petrossian for the best smoked salmon. When it comes to decorating, I like to go to Le Bon Marché for classic and beautifully elegant pieces or to the Conran shop for something a little more eccentric. That’s my British side! (Laughs)

What about your childhood Christmas memories?

Alexia

The Pandoro at the end of the meal is my weakness. I love it. It’s so light and airy; you could eat a whole one! Apart from that, I’d say that I don’t really have a childhood favourite; what I like about Christmas in my family is that everything changes constantly and so does the menu. So we always have some great surprises!

Seau à champagne chez Alexia Duchêne à Paris
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne
À Table Avec: Alexia Duchêne

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À Table Avec: Chloé Hennequez

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