Sina
Edition: CHINAASIAUSAEUROPEAFRICA
Home > Life and Art
Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 09:30

French and proud

By Mike Peters

A global celebration of the world's most venerated cuisine has doubled in size since last year, Mike Peters reports, with many French restaurants in China offering menus that look far beyond foie gras and champagne.

French and proud
Restaurants across China join the Gout de France, an event that spreads French culinary traditions around the world at the start of spring. (Photo provided to China Daily)

For Yohan Fatela, the French chef at Heritage restaurant in the Wanda Sofitel, every day is about celebrating his country's cuisine.

But the past week has been more intense than usual. Saturday night his restaurant team hosted Chaine des Rotisseurs, a centuries-old group of gourmands founded in France, with active chapters in Beijing and Shanghai. On Tuesday night, he joins the third annual Gout de France (Good France), along with about 2,000 chefs from five continents who will present a special menu on the spring equinox, widely celebrated as the first day of spring.

In 1912, Auguste Escoffier started Les Diners d'Epicure (Epicurean Dinners): one day, one menu, served in cities around the world, to as many guests as possible. Gout de France, the event's website says, "aims to bring this idea to life by assembling all kinds of restaurants across the globe". The first event, in 2015, was organized to spread French cuisine around the world following its inscription to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

French and proud
Restaurants across China join the Gout de France, an event that spreads French culinary traditions around the world at the start of spring. (Photo provided to China Daily)

"Talking about cuisine - French cuisine - is also talking about joie de vivre (joy of life), delicacy, optimism and pleasure - ideas that are all crucial to the image of France," says celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, who operates two restaurants in Hong Kong and plans to open in Shanghai soon.

Ducasse is a godfather of modern French cuisine, and one of the one-night program's central messages is that French cuisine is contemporary, not a relic of centuries past. Participating chefs are encouraged to blend their own culinary culture to that of France, rather than discounting it, organizers say.

Today's French cuisine, says French Ambassador to China Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, is excellent because it is healthy, innovative and responsible.

Heritage chef Fatela seconds that, adding that traditionally heavy recipes have been updated to be lighter, leaner and fresher.

Gout de France, organizers say, not only embraces the heartiness associated with the pleasures of eating, but celebrates the way food has become the symbol of France's positive values. That means healthy dishes prepared from fresh, seasonal and local produce, with low fat, salt and sugar content.

French and proud
Restaurants across China join the Gout de France, an event that spreads French culinary traditions around the world at the start of spring. (Photoprovided to China Daily)

With 2,000 chefs participating this year, the event has doubled in size since 2016. Menus will feature meals for everyone, from bistro to gourmet dining. In Beijing, for example, Cafe de la Poste and New Seven Days Cafe & Club will offer more casual fare, while fine-dining spots like Heritage and Flo Maison will serve up fancier plates.

Gourdault-Montagne notes that the many facets of French cuisine - including wine - can seem overwhelming, but adds that events like Gout de France give curious diners a chance for a step-by-step introduction. At any time at a good restaurant, he says, you can ask your server, ask the chef, ask the sommelier for insight and suggestions.

Participating restaurants are located across China, including in Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, Harbin, Hong Kong, Macao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Taipei, Taiyuan, Wuhan, Xiamen and Xi'an.

Contact the writer at michaelpeters@chinadaily.com.cn

 
Latest News