Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 19: On your Mark, Get Set, Eat French!

On Thursday, March 19, more than 1,300 restaurants in 150 countries will offer special dinner menus designed to celebrate French gastronomy in all its forms.
Participating chefs include some of the top names in French cuisine — among them Paul Bocuse, GuySavoy, Joël Robuchon, Raymond Blanc and Marc Haeberlin — along with scores of other French and non-French chefs working in France and abroad.
Known as Goût de France, the initiative was spearheaded by superstar chef Alain Ducasse and Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development. 

The duo was inspired by legendary culinarian Auguste Escoffier, who launched the “Dîners d’Épicure” in 1912. Escoffier’s idea was to promote French cuisine by serving the same menu on the same day in cities all over the globe.

Ducasse says that Goût de France will "honor the merits of French food, its capacity for innovation, and its values: sharing, enjoying, and respecting the principles of high-quality, environmentally responsible cuisine." (The event is also being called Good France, as opposed to the literal translation of its name, Taste of France).
In everything from rustic bistros to gilded Michelin-starred dining rooms, those lucky enough to get a table will enjoy a set-price French-style menu featuring a traditional French apéritif, a cold starter, a hot starter, fish or shellfish, meat or poultry, French cheese, a chocolate dessert, and French wines and digestifs.
The chefs are free to highlight their own culinary traditions and culture, but have been directed to base the meal upon fresh, seasonal, and local products, with an eye to lower levels of fat, sugar, salt, and protein.
Menu prices are at the chefs’ discretion, and all participants have been encouraged to donate 5% of their proceeds to a local NGO promoting health and/or environmental protection.
French embassies abroad will also be involved, staging their own Goût de France dinners with ambassadors present. A grand dinner will be held at the Château de Versailles for foreign ambassadors posted in Paris along with other dignitaries.
After an open call for applications, Ducasse and his 40-chef committee chose the finalists based on the “coherence and quality of their proposed menus.”

Here in the South of France, you can see everyone who’s participating by clicking here. Below is just a selection; most but not all have posted their special menu and price on the Goût de France site.

*Gérald Passédat (Le Petit Nice, Marseille)
*Lionel Levy (Hotel Inter Continental, Marseille)
*Ludovic Turac (Une Table au Sud, Marseille)
*Guillaume Sourrieu (L’Epuisette, Marseille)
*Marc de Passorio (L’Esprit de la Violette, Aix)
*Pierre Reboul (Restaurant Pierre Reboul, Aix)
*Mathias Dandine (Les Lodges Sainte Victoire, Aix)
*Christophe Martin (Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers)
*Erwan Louaisil (Moulin de Mougins, Mougins)
*Ronan Kervarrec (La Chèvre d'Or, Eze)
*David Cahen (Au Petit Gari, Nice)
*Notel Mantel (Mantel, Cannes)
*Alain Llorca (Restaurant Alain Llorca, La Colle sur Loup)
*Yoric Tieche (La Passagère, Juan Les Pins)
*Benjamin Collombat (Cote Rue, Draguignan)
*Paolo Sari (Elsa, Roqeubrune Cap Martin)
*Jean-Francois Berard (Hostellerie Berard, La Cadiere d’Azur)
*Benoit Witz (L'Hostellerie De L'Abbaye De La Celle, La Celle)
*Reine Sammut (Auberge La Fenière, Lourmarin)
*Xavier Mathieu (Le Phebus, Joucas)
*Robert Lalleman (Auberge de Noves, Noves)
*Thibaut Serin-Moulin (Restaurant Valrugues, St. Remy)
 *Johan Thyriot (Meo, Tarascon)

For restaurants elsewhere in France, click here.

And to find a restaurant in another country, click here.

In the US, there were 45 restaurants participating at last count, and you can see them all listed here.

At his three Bouchon Bistros (in Las Vegas, Yountville, and Beverly Hills), Thomas Keller’s Goût de France menu starts with foie gras cromesquis (foie gras that’s been cured, poached, breaded, and fried, like a fritter), then moves on to saucisson à l’ail (garlic sausage in brioche, with marinated vegetables, Dijon mustard, and garden mâche) and selle d’agneau rotie et farcie (herb-stuffed Elysian Fields lamb saddle with spring beans and English peas with mint-scented lamb jus). The cheese will be Camembert Le Châtelain (with rhubarb compote and black pepper pistachio pain de campagne), and the dessert, an opera cake (almond sponge with coffee and chocolate butter cream). The menu is priced at $65, with wine pairings offered for an extra $45. Seats are still available at all three locations. 

“Even though this is a one-day event, for Bouchon it’s all about paying homage to the core values we embody as a French bistro every day,” Keller says. "For Americans, Goût de France is really about discovering an appreciation for French culture through cuisine that’s responsibly prepared with high-quality ingredients and execution. We’re proud to represent the United States in this worldwide celebration.” 

At Jade Mountain on St. Lucia in the Caribbean, executive chef Jeffrey Forrest has infused his Goût de France menu with a wide range of local ingredients. He'll be serving roasted cabbage with toasted farro, christophene and a lime-curry nage; cured lionfish with passion-fruit caviar; fromage frais with papaya mustard; "wahoo aubergine" and a chocolate mousse made from from chocolate grown and produced onsite. (Full menu details are here.)

"Jade Cuisine embraces the French concepts of culinary exploration and the use of fresh farm-to-table ingredients," Forrest says. "Our resort runs its own organic plantation producing fruits, vegetables and spices such as turmeric, cashews, tamarind, mango, avocado, oranges, tangerines, guavas, papaya, coconut, breadfruit, yams and sweet potatoes. Cocoa plants are numerous on the grounds for guest to see and for the resort to produce their own chocolates.  We completely embrace the French philosophy and principles of high-quality, environmentally responsible cuisine."
So why this promo and why now? No one is addressing that exactly, but French chefs have come under fire in recent years, accused of serving frozen rather than freshly made food, high menu prices, failure to keep up with global culinary trends, failure to innovate, and the sin of “aesthetic snobbery” — meaning hiring only the prettiest people and seating guests according to attractiveness.
Ducasse and his culinary comrades have worked tirelessly to counter these attacks through a wide range of initiatives, of which Goût de France is the latest. ''In the space of around two months, we received and approved applications from over 1,300 restaurants throughout the world,'' he says. ''This is certainly food for thought for all those who love to talk about the decline of French cuisine.” (And what will Ducasse serve on this special night? His restaurants and their Goût de France menus and prices are here.)

“France is well known as the country of art de vivre,” says Parisian chef Guy Savoy, “and cooking, of course, belongs to that art de vivre. As cooks, our craft is to make our guests happy… and we want to share it, show it, promote it." He adds, “French cuisine is built on ancestral know-how, and is wide open to the future.” Savoy’s menu is here, but the dinner (at 380€ per person) is fully booked.

At the restaurant Pavillon in the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Michelin-starred chef Laurent Eperon calls Goût de France an exceptional way to preserve the ideals and pleasures of French gastronomy. “In my humble opinion as a Frenchman, French is the best cuisine of all!” he proclaims. “I’d love to see Goût de France happen annually. The world could always use more French cuisine!” Eperon’s $160 menu for the occasion is here.

Quite a few chefs told me they hope this will be the start of something big, a regular event that will keep growing as time goes on. "I am so happy and proud to celebrate the French gastronomy in the world!" proclaims Laetitia Rouabah, chef at Allard restaurant in Paris. "Good France was able to gather more than 1300 chefs all around the world and that is wonderful ! I sincerely hope that after this first edition, other initiatives like this will follow to promote the French cuisine all around the world." To see Allard's 85€ menu (140€ with wine pairings), click here.

Ducasse, for his part, says the initiative has already satisfied one of his major goals: to illustrate how French-trained chefs are respecting the traditions of the French kitchen while tweaking them to make vibrant, modern and highly personal cuisine. 

“When I look at all the chefs participating,” he says, “I’m struck by their great diversity... all generations and styles of restaurant are represented. The influence of French cuisine can be seen in this human chain of men and women, whose professional roots extend far back into great French culinary traditions. It’s a brotherhood of professionals who share and uphold the same values worldwide." But, he adds, “The main point of this event is generosity and sharing, and a love for what’s beautiful and tastes good.”

For all the info, visit GoodFrance.com. They’re also on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photos: One thousand chefs in 1300 restaurants worldwide will be serving Goût de France dinners on Thursday night. Top photo: Event organizers gathered for their close up, which in this case was more like a far away. (2, 3, 4) Jade Mountain on St. Lucia, Benoit in NYC and Pavillon in Zurich will all be strutting their best culinary stuff. (5) At Thomas Keller's three Bouchon Bistros, one course will be this herb-stuffed lamb saddle with spring beans, English peas and mint-scented jus. (6) Laetitia Rouabah at Allard in Paris. (7-13) The large number of chefs participating in the South of France include: Paolo Sari (Elsa in the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel), Olivier Rathery (with wife Sylvie) at Le Gout des Choses in Marseille, Xavier Mathieu (Le Phebus, Joucas), Noel Mantel (Mantel, Cannes), Johan Thyriot (Meo, Tarascon), Alexandre Lechene (Le Roc Alto, Saint Veran) and many more. (14) The logo.


  1. Julie,

    Thanks for the heads up for both articles! We're trying to make reservations at the Montpelier NECI restaurant. Would never have known about this if it weren't for you- kinda funny since you knew about it in my neck of the woods.

    You're the best!



    P. S. Happy St. Patty's Day! Hope you get your hands on a Guiness to celebrate!

  2. Julia, thank you! So happy to read this. I love the cuisine of Ludovic Turac, Un Table au Sud. And he is participating...
    I'm in the region this week and would be trilled to get a special treat in one of those places..
    All the best!

  3. Well, our little Casimir French Bistro in Boca Raton is not on the official list but we will celebrate Goût de France there tomorrow anyway with their delicious tartare de boeuf. I'm counting the days to our arrival back in France!



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