How France's Top Chefs United To Honor Yannick Alléno's Late Son

On March 23, 2023, there was a dinner in Hong Kong organized by Michelin-starred chef Maxime Gilbert. It brought together a group of award-winning French chefs, including Julien Tongourian of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Yoric Tieche of Le Cap, Nicolas Beaumann of Maison Rostang, Cyril Bonnard and Marie Wucher of Le Parc Hotel, Gilbert himself, and Yannick Alléno. The dinner was in honor of Alléno's son, Antoine, who was killed by a drunk driver on May 8, 2022, at the age of 24. 

The menu for the evening, which had a ticket price of a little over $2,000 for a table of two, included poached eggs stuffed with caviar (called badaboom), imported wild turbot from Brittany, France cooked in white wine, roasted langoustine with black truffles and foie gras, and a millefeuille of Japanese wagyu beef. The evening also included an auction, among whose items included high-end dining experiences, travel packages, bottles of wine, and a diamond-encrusted watch. 

The dinner was not luxury for luxury's sake. It accomplished two things: It honored the lost son of a beloved colleague and mentor, and every penny made was a charitable donation. All of the proceeds from the dinner tickets and auction items were donated to The Association Antione Alléno, which aims to protect children and support families who have experienced child loss.

Helping families through tragedy

The Association was set up by Yannick Alléno and his ex-wife shortly following Antione's death. Its three goals – to accompany, to raise awareness, and to mobilize — bring together groups of volunteers and professionals to help those experiencing the devastation of losing children. The support can be through funding for funerals and travel arrangements, making meals, and providing emotional support. 

It is the kind of support Alléno did not receive in the wake of his own son's death. Quoted by News in France, Alléno said on the French radio program, "C to You," "I discovered a world that I did not know... In the evening, they drove us to the Hôtel-Dieu in a rather gloomy room, we were handed a small piece of paper with a telephone number to go, if we wished, to consult a psychologist". 

The shock of this propelled Alléno to use his high profile to create the kind of organization where people could find the support he and his family did not get. Hence, the development of the Association and the numerous charitable dinners continue to raise money for families who have experienced such tragedy. It's one way the gastronomic world can pay it forward.