French Chefs promote Gastronomy
College Culinaire de France inaugurated to promote French cuisine.
Worried that France's global gastronomic influence may be on the wane, 15 of its top Michelin-starred chefs are cooking up a plan to put it back in the front of people's minds and enlist the help of the French Government to promote it.
Critics of French cuisine argue that for too long it has rested on its laurels, not moving with the times to use alternative ingredients and adapt to a changing culinary world order as new chefs push the boundaries. With that in mind, the who's who of French cuisine, including Alain Ducasse, owner of London's famous Dorchester and 26-Michelin star holder Joel Robuchon, gathered at the Eiffel Tower on Tuesday 1 February 2011, to unveil the country's first chef lobbying group -- the College Culinaire de France.
The catering industry alone in France accounted for about 50 billion euros in 2009 and is the fourth biggest private sector employer in France taking on almost 500,000 people each year with little support form the French Government.
The art of the French chef has changed after thousands of budding cooks learnt their trade in France's top kitchens, only to ply their trade overseas and take their culinary experience to new levels beyond what they were taught.
For Guy Savoy- who has recently opened a restaurant at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands and one of the chefs considered to have nurtured the lighter and more modern French cuisine- part of the problem is a sense of guilt about promoting France's heritage. "It's not arrogant or pretentious to say France is the global essence of gastronomy ... it's the reality and we have to stop punishing ourselves just because one or two countries have a few cooks that make a lot more noise than a few thousand French chefs."
The final straw was perhaps at this year's Bocuse d'Or -- the Oscar's of the cooking world held biennially in France's gastronomic capital, Lyon. French chefs were nowhere to be seen as the top three chefs all came from Scandinavia.
"On the podium there was Sweden, Norway and Denmark with big budgets, a large ministerial presence and significant financial backing," said two-star Michelin holder Alain Dutornier. "They have understood how important influential gastronomy is to the tourism economy."
The group's objectives are simple: Create an organization that defends the interests of all Gallic-related delights. Through training it wants to mold a new generation of French "master chefs" who have learned from top restaurants.
It also plans to establish a museum of gastronomy in Paris and will also publish a list annually of thousands of the finest French products to help boost exports and awareness