Alain Sailhac, who began working in restaurants at age 14 and went on to run some of the the world’s great kitchens in his native France and the U.S., died at his home in New York City last week. He was 87.
As much a teacher as a cook, having spent his last years as a dean of the French Culinary Institute in Soho, he trained such luminaries in their own right as Terrance Brennan, David Bouley, Wylie Dufresne, and David Chang.
As a chef, Sailhac was perhaps best known on the world culinary stage for his eight-year tenure as chef de cuisine at the legendary Le Cirque. Daniel Boulud, who inherited the stewardship of that fabled kitchen when Sailhac moved on to new challenges in 1986, recalls of his predecessor, “He was already changing the stereotype of the classic French restaurant, which was stuck in the ’60s and ’70s.”
For all his talents, Sailhac remained a humble and easy-going man. I had the great good fortune of meeting him at the French Culinary Institute in 2015, when I sat in on one of his classes. You would have never guessed from his manner that he was one of the greatest chefs of his time. He will be missed.
Andre Sotlner’s Quenelles de Brochet, Alain Sailhac’s Hazelnut-Crusted Lamb Chops