If you’ve ever noticed, critics rarely rate the greatness of a restaurant based on its cheese selection, which is not only the least-mentioned food component but also the one that can so easily go wrong. Half the battle to serving cheese properly is ensuring that it is kept at optimum condition, a task French chef Alain Ducasse takes great joy in.
On a recent trip Mr. Ducasse made to London, I accompanied him on a visit to two cheese shops that supply his three-Michelin-starred restaurant Ducasse at the Dorchester. Mr. Ducasse no longer cooks in his 20 or so kitchens, but he visits each regularly to ensure his high standard of serving the best possible ingredients is maintained. You won’t find a cheese trolley at his London restaurant. Instead, it serves a selection of the four best cheeses of the day, chosen in the kitchen by his chef Jocelyn Herland and then sent to the table. No such policy is followed in Paris, where cheese trolleys are culturally par for the course at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée. The same is true for his Le Louis XV in Monaco.
“It is quite difficult to maintain a high-quality cheese board—you need to have them kept at the perfect temperature, as well as only serving them when they have achieved perfect maturation,” Mr. Ducasse says.