Shock waves went through the French culinary establishment last week when France failed for the first time ever to win medals at the esteemed Bocuse d’Or Competition in Lyon. Instead chefs from the Scandinavian countries dominated the podium, led by Chef Rasmus Kofoed of Denmark.
Added to the fact that Tokyo can now claim more Michelin acclaimed restaurants than Paris - well, the leading chefs of France decided that they have to take matters into their own hands.
Gathering at the elite 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant, 15 of France’s greatest chefs have joined together to form the nation’s first official lobbying association directed by chefs: The College Culinaire de France.
The legendary French chefs Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon pointed out during their presentation that French culinary efforts generate over 50 billion euros (or 68 billion dollars) annually to the French economy as well as creating over half a million jobs for the nation.
Yet, unlike the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish winning teams, the international efforts of the French chefs to promote their national cuisine has never been supported by any significant governmental effort. In short, France’s famed cuisine has been taken for granted and left to the nation's individual chefs to promote on their own.
All the chefs present felt that such singular chef efforts lacked the greater effect of a more focused campaign aided by a larger ministerial presence and increased financial backing.
With such additional support, The College Culinaire de France plans to train a new generation of French “master chefs.” Culinary leaders such as Chef Guy Savoy want to honor the classic cuisine of France while also making a place on the menu for a lighter and more modern touch in tune with the contemporary tastes.
This combination of the best and the new will provide an amazing showcase for the thousands of outstanding food products created in France and lead to increased exportation (and national income).
The College Culinaire de France also plans to establish a museum of gastronomy in Paris. Such a museum could be both a major tourist attraction and also an interactive marketing tool. There visitors could experience the heritage of France’s great chefs as well as savor the fantastic flavors of the future.
Hurray for the great chefs of France! With your help, the world will be a better (and more tasteful) place!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011