An Evening With Alain Ducasse And His Cookpot

The curvy Cookpot, loaded with spring vegetables.

My introduction to Alain Ducasse's new signature dish, the "Cookpot," came over dinner while I was seated next to the famed chef himself. It really goes without saying, that sure beat the hell out of learning about it from a press release.

During a media dinner last week at Adour, Ducasse's restaurant in the St. Regis, I had the pleasure of dusting off my rusty French (and probably butchering more sentences than I care to admit) and chatting with the world-renowned chef about the Cookpot, his new signature cooking vessel.

Also a pleasure? Digging into the tender spring morels, ramps, asparagus and peas cradled by the curved white porcelain creation. That dish is the local DC version of the spring vegetable Cookpot that each of Ducasse's restaurants around the world are featuring.

"When I was a child, we ate vegetables because they grew there, in a corner of my grandparents’ farm, on a bit of land that I sometimes wish would again be part of our daily lives," Ducasse says. "I wanted to produce a shape that would bring out the original flavors of vegetables, a shape inspired by the style of simple and elegant country cooking."

Simultaneously humble and graceful, the Cookpot was designed to use the vegetables' own moisture to enhance the cooking. What goes into it depends on the season.

For your own taste of Cookpot cooking, head to Adour where executive chef Julien Jouhannaud's spring vegetable Cookpot, served as an appetizer for $18, features morels, wild ramps, English peas, asparagus, button mushrooms and a soft poached egg.