Alain Ducasse Judges New York’s French Fries

Photo: Melissa Hom

Great French chef Alain Ducasse visited New York this month just as Nicolas Sarkozy called Barack Obama’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize evidence of “the return of America to the hearts of the peoples of the world.” The moment fit nicely with our mission, which was to have Ducasse judge something from France that Americans have adopted deep in their hearts: the French fry. We took Ducasse on a tour of some of Manhattan's most respected potato artisans: Balthazar, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Les Halles, Pommes Frites, the Harrison, Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries, Café Bruxelles, the Breslin, and McDonald's. Ducasse rated the fries on a ten-point system for taste, five for texture, and five awarded at his discretion. “There are lots of varieties of fried potatoes in France,” says Ducasse. What we simply call “pommes frites” might actually refer to pommes Pont-Neuf (thick-cut fries), pommes allumettes (matchstick), or pommes pailles (shoestring). But Ducasse treasures character in cooking above all else — and a crisp golden exterior helps, too. Click through the slideshow to see whose fries are hot in the oil of competition.

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