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The Outer Limits of Gastronomy

Alain Ducasse in Space
by Jeff Hoyt

Martain bread and green tomato marmelade

Most restaurateurs would be happy with an empire of seventeen top restaurants spread out over three continents, but not Alain Ducasse. The Frenchman behind Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in Monaco and his eponymous Manhattan restaurant was not satisfied that his eatery empire was entirely Earthbound. To fulfill his desire to feed people throughout the galaxy, he is currently making meals for a very captive audience: astronauts.

Believe it or not, meals developed by Alain Ducasse Formation can now be found on the International Space Station in orbit 230 miles above our planet. That means Ducasse’s haute cuisine is boldly going where no cuisine has gone before.

Spicy poultry and vegetables

In accordance with the space station’s meal specifications—and with the goal of making meals taste home-made and not freeze-dried—Ducasse created thirteen dishes such as caponata, a Sicilian specialty made of peppers, tomatoes and zucchini flavored with honey and almonds; roasted quails in Madiran wine sauce; preserved duck breast with caper condiment; Riviera-style swordfish steak; spicy poultry with Thai-style sautéed vegetables; rice pudding with preserved fruit; and smooth celeriac purée with nutmeg. That sure sounds better than K rations and Tang. In Ducasse’s worldview, when you give up gravity, that’s no reason to give up gourmet.

These “space certified” dishes are packaged in aluminum alloy and light manganese boxes which are suitable for heating in the Russian segment of the International Space Station. The goal is to create one or two new recipes each year so that space-goers never get bored with these delicious—and nutritious—menu items.

Alain Ducasse, keep reaching for the stars. What’s next: a fly-through window?

* Images © ADF/P.DESGRIEUX, 2006

(Updated: 11/13/06)

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