France falls for Le Fooding

20th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

Food + Feeling = Le Fooding, reports Rosa Jackson, and it's a cuisine trend that is sweeping France and replacing the formality of traditional French cooking with a more feel-good approach.

French chefs are doing away with starched tablecloths and polished crystal in favour of free picnics, DJ nights and performance art-style cooking demonstrations.

Nova magazine was the first to coin the term 'fooding'

Encouraged by movements called 'le Fooding' and 'la jeune cuisine', they are shaking off the tyranny of the Michelin guide and putting the 'h' word — history — out of their minds.

"The history of French cuisine may be important, but it's not our concern," said the tousle-haired young journalist Alexandre Cammas, who founded the Fooding movement several years ago while on staff at Nova magazine.

"We want to make cooking accessible and fun. There is no reason for people to feel bored when they go to a restaurant," said Cammas.

Cammas defines Le Fooding as a contraction of 'food' and 'feeling', meaning that a restaurant is as much about how it makes you feel as what you eat.

The Le Fooding website lists about 130 restaurants, grouped into categories such as 'diners and snacks', too good' and 'see and be seen'.

La jeune cuisine

Just as influential as the Fooding guide have been events such as a picnic in the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum, free soups from big-name French chefs at open-air markets and five-euro barbecues in Marseilles and Nantes.

*sidebar1*This past Monday night saw a DJ soiree with the chef of the chic Lutetia hotel and star patissier Pierre Hermé at the warehouse-style bar La Flèche d'Or in the 20th arrondissement.

Entry is by password only, which is published on the website just before the event.

The annual Fooding awards recognise trend-setting chefs such as Yves Camdeborde of the Paris bistro Le Comptoir du Relais and Alain Senderens, who traded in his three Michelin stars at Lucas Carton for a more laid-back style at his revamped restaurant Senderens.

If Fooding is mainly about loosening up, 'la jeune cuisine' has the more serious goal of identifying where French cuisine is going.

Luc Dubanchet and Laurent Seminet, former editorial and artistic director of the respected Gault Millau guide, coined the term three years ago in the first issue of their subscription-only newsletter Omnivore.

Recently, they covered 60,000 kilometres to select 150 up-and-coming and established talents for their first 'travel diary'.

"Instead of rating the restaurants with stars or points in the style of Michelin or Gault Millau, the pair met each of the chefs and took a series of photographs to put together a two-page colour feature on each establishment.

"I am fighting the Michelin system," said Dubanchet. "It has done an enormous amount of harm to French cooking, preventing chefs and customers from thinking for themselves. I find that unacceptable."

Passé Paris

Dubanchet selected only 18 Paris restaurants for the guide — many of them Fooding favourites — and has no qualms about bashing the quality of restaurants in the French capital.

"It's certainly not the world's most exciting food capital. Paris is not serving as a catalyst for the rest of the country," he said. "Nearly all the restaurants fall into set categories and few stand out from the crowd. The provinces are more dynamic."

The first Omnivore Food Festival, held in the industrial city of Le Havre in February, proved this point with two days of cooking demonstrations held in a packed concert hall.

Alongside internationally known names such as Alain Ducasse and Ferran Adria, young chefs such as Jouni Tormanen from Nice and David Zuddas from Burgundy displayed cooking styles that ranged from the classic to the far-out.

Zuddas served, in a goldfish bowl, little silver fish suspended in jelly made with agar-agar and topped with parsley foam.

Gilles Choukroun, one of the up-and-comers of Generation .C

Perhaps most striking, though, was an hour-long performance by a group of chefs who call themselves Generation .C, led by Gilles Choukroun of Angl'Opera in Paris.

The .C stands for 'cuisines and cultures', and the group's aim is to create a network of professionals who are willing to help each other and share ideas.

A few of the black-masked chefs formed a jazz band while another group slowly assembled a dish representing musical notes and a lone artist sketched its progress.

At the end, they all whipped off their masks and, even if the audience was baffled, the chefs were smiling.

March 2006

Copyright AFP with Expatica

Subject: Living in France

0 Comments To This Article