Akrame Benallal, a Chef and an Entrepreneur, from Paris to Manila
  • #BusinessEcology
  • #Entrepreneurship
  • #Innovation
  • #MadeInFrance
  • #PassingOn
  • #Tradinnovation
  • #Tradition
“Nothing is impossible in France – or anywhere else! “
This is chef Akrame Benallal’s mantra, and this is what he wants all the young cooks working beside him to believe.

Copyrigth Gault&Millau

Exporting French tradinnovation


Michelin-starred chef Akrame Benallal has coined the word tradinnovation to describe France’s situation, in which ancient tradition and cutting-edge innovation co-exist.

Enough French-bashing, enough imported concepts – “France is fantastically inspiring, and the world must know!” Akrame dreams of seeing all eyes on France, on its craftspeople, its products, and its elitist haute cuisine as well as its everyday homely bistro cooking.

“We must learn again how to value our work and our know-how, and learn how to export our concepts. Why should we always look up to what is being done in London, New York, Hong Kong or Dubaï? Let us look at French-made innovation, and let’s export it!”

A chef, an entrepreneur, a go-between


Akrame Benallal is a true serial entrepreneur, with gourmet restaurant Akrame in Paris (2 Michelin stars in 2014), Atelier Vivanda bistros (3 in Paris, 1 in Hong Kong, 1 in Manila), Brut wine and cheese shop, and Mad’leine corner in Paris. He learned “a major lesson in life” when his first restaurant, in Tours, went bankrupt. “Definitely not a failure but a lesson: you always learn, like a stone being shaped by life and time and changing as life goes on.”

As a seasoned professional, he now aims to “motivate kids who no longer dream, make them excited again, show them that nothing is impossible, that you should not be afraid of taking risks, and that you can always do better” – to help them grow, in fact.

At 34, he belongs to a generation that can hardly remember pre-crisis times, but he is not complaining, and he has learned to “live with this context that doesn’t stop one from acting first and thinking later: if you don’t try, you won’t go anywhere.”


For him, educating is an everyday preoccupation

Akrame Benallal ©Foodandvalues

With close to a hundred associates in his different businesses in the world, he is aware of his responsibilities as a business manager and as a citizen. Rather than describe his culinary creations, he wants to “show that cuisine can bring a lot in terms of personal development, and can provide a different outlook on the cook as someone who must change with the times.”

This is why he organises every year two seminars for his teams – moments of sharing and togetherness, with for instance a cooking contest at Alain Ducasse’s school of cuisine, and also challenging moments, with a go-kart race.

Why a go-kart race? Because Akrame Benallal is mad about motorsports, and most of all formula one – as his friend F1 pilot Romain Grosjean can testify. But mostly because he wants to show his associates that “it’s not pure speed that counts, but rather, the timer’s verdict: only at the end of the race can you say who’s winning.”

And what is his definition of winning? To see former associates open their own restaurants, like for instance Hubert Duchenne, who was his assistant chef for two years, and has just opened Restaurant H in Paris.

February 2016

Key dates
  • Born June 22, 1981
  • Sept 1995 : Apprenticeship at Restaurant de La Poste, Molineuf, France
  • July 2010 : Tours restaurant bankrupt
  • April 2012 : Akrame gastronomic restaurant opens in Paris
  • April 2016 : Akrame closed for renovations, to give diners “a new culinary experience”, at the same address, next fall.

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Recipe Plain madeleines
Chef Akrame Benallal shares his madeleine recipe, a memory from childhood after-school snacks. In his Michelin-starred restaurant, every table gets a few madeleines to take home, as a last moment of sharing with those who came to discover his cuisine.

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