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Felice

Jeune Cuisine Francaise

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There’s a very interesting article that’s worth reading in Le Nouvel Observateur this week about what is being called" la jeune cuisine francaise" and the restaurant scene in France and how chefs are forgoing Michelin stars for a younger, more inventive cuisine. The article opens saying:

“They’ve decided to finish with service à la cloche, 300 Euro menus and the dictatorship of Michelin. Their motto: we can achieve exceptional and even inventive cuisine without all the excessive trappings of haute cuisine.” (my quick translation)

They then go on to talk about these new chefs throughout France, who aren’t interested in chasing after Michelin stars and who prefer “lively, fun atmospheres to crystal glasses”. The article also talks about Generation C, a group of well-known chefs espousing this philosophy, and Omnivore (which John Talbott has mentioned previously) a newish culinary publication written by “ reporters gastronomique “ and not “critiques”.

Anyway, it’s all very interesting and worth reading. The article is available HERE mais en francais.

Unfortunately it doesn't include their pull-out section which lists their 140 picks of these type of places throughout France.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Felice: thanks for finding this article! By using Altavista's Babelfish, one can translate full pages by putting in the URL of whatever you want translated .. and so, by doing this, I have read a couple of pages .. the translation, while not perfect, is fine for simply reading and enjoying! Thanks again!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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As mentioned, the pull-out guide included in the Nouvel Obs is not available online, however I later noticed a little blurb at the end of the article that said that the collection of restaurants for the article was written by Luc Dubanchet, Sébastien Demorand and Andréa Petrini and is actually an "avant-gout" or preview of a new guide "beaucoup plus etoffé" being put out by Omnivore called Carnet de Route. It's due out at the end of September.

The restaurants included in the Nouvel Obs article from Paris are:

Angl'Opera

Aux Lyonnais

Mon Vieil Ami

Le Pre Verre

Le Comptoir du Relais

Ze Kitchen Gallerie

Chez L'ami Jean

Le Bristol

Flora

Spoon, Food, and Wine

La Table du Lancaster

Les Ambassadeurs

Chez Jean

Le Verre Vole

Chez Michel

Le Villaret

Le Refectoire

La Muse Vin

Le Temps au temps

Le Bistrot Paul Bert

L'Avant Gout

L'Ourcine

La Cerisaie

La Regalade

L'Ami Marcel

Banyan

Le Beurre Noisette

L'Astrance

Le Bistral

La Famille

Le Baratin


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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I enjoyed the article, but was pretty surprised that the only Parisian chef they mentionned was Gilles Choukron. Angl' Opera is a less than stellar concept, and he hasn't done much since he was in Chartres, except the Café des Delices (now closed).


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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I enjoyed the article, but was pretty surprised that the only Parisian chef they mentionned was Gilles Choukron.  Angl' Opera is a less than stellar concept, and he hasn't done much since he was in Chartres, except the Café des Delices (now closed).

I guess they wanted to highlight lesser-known chefs. I assume Parisian chefs get enough press as it is.

That's what I love about France, you can be in a little town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere and come across an amazing restaurant with innovative food. Not so easy in the States, I would think. I would love to try some of the places they list outside Paris and will definitely be buying their guide once it comes out.


Edited by Felice (log)

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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I have seen several of these alliances of French chefs come and go. They either have a guide or a manifesto. This one is another marketing ploy, it sound like to me, but they must all be written about in other guidebooks.They should just call it "La Guide du Lacet de Soulier" (Shoestring Guide). It's not a bad idea to make their guide from a business point of view.

The "Nouvel Observateur" article is just another fawning over chefs piece that the journalists over there always write. I guess this marketing project is a way to put together under one roof all these young chefs who open up these little places that offer three choices in each category (entree, plat, dessert) and have a staff of four, two of which are the chef and his or her spouse. I don't mean to disparage the genre because every new restaurant that opens in Nice is one of these, and while I find them poor to mediocre, I have had several tasty dishes. What happens, however, is that I will like the first meal, but then when I go back I find that the menu hasn't changed and I have already exhausted half or more of the offerings between me and my wife. I'm afraid, though, that these aren't restaurants worth traveling to, though they can fill the bill if you are near by one of them. It's self-serving to take potshots at 300 euros meals and the Guide Michelin, however. It's those restaurants with their three stars that are for many the backbone of gastronomic touring. Enjoy them while they last, or at least those and as many as you can afford.

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I have seen several of these alliances of French chefs come and go. They either have a guide or a manifesto. This one is another marketing ploy, it sound like to me, but they must all be written about in other guidebooks.They should just call it "La Guide du Lacet de Soulier" (Shoestring Guide). It's not a bad idea to make their guide from a business point of view.

It's self-serving to take potshots at 300 euros meals and the Guide Michelin, however. It's those restaurants with their three stars that are for many the backbone of gastronomic touring.

Did you read the entire article?

I didn't think they were taking potshots at 300 euro meals and the Michelin at all, they just want to be able to offer something else--the ability to serve high quality, cuisine d'auteur, without having to serve it in a place that looks like the museum. And if that means they won't get a Michelin star, so be it. But this doesn't mean they want to do away with those kind of places. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to eat like that, I know that I can't. :sad: I love the fact that in Paris I can have wonderful food without spending an enormous amount of money.

This didn't sound like a marketing ploy at all to me. I think it's written by people who are passionate about French cuisine and want to make sure that it progresses. Plus, I've read Omnivore's monthly publication, which I assume you haven't, so I know that it's not just "another marketing ploy".


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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I have seen several of these alliances of French chefs come and go. They either have a guide or a manifesto. This one is another marketing ploy, it sound like to me, 

This didn't sound like a marketing ploy at all to me. I think it's written by people who are passionate about French cuisine and want to make sure that it progresses. Plus, I've read Omnivore's monthly publication, which I assume you haven't, so I know that it's not just "another marketing ploy".

Robert - As Felice points out, it doesn't seem you've actually read Omnivore because your description is out of kilter. Omnivore is the uncola or the unGaultMillau; it has no advertising, no glitz about wine, no content to ad ratio that is offputting, no big names with glossy pictures- instead it's interesting, peppy, iconoclastic and broad. It was started by some guys who were disillusioned with G/M for whom they were reviewing and who thought French cuisine should be brought to another level, much like Henri Gault and Christian Millau did in the 1960's. It has no resemblance to those booklets handed out in the provences purportedly published by suspiciously-named, seemingly fly-by-night, self-congratulatory organizations with titles like "New French chefs in the Midi over 5 feet tall with blond hair."

Omnivore, Le Fooding (both the movement and irregularly published magazine) and Generation C, all intersect and all, if I understand them correctly, are an attempt by persons concerned with the stagnant state of French haute cuisine, to inject some new trends into classical (Generation A) and nouvelle/minceur (Generation B) cooking - whether thru looking at foreign (Asian, El Bulli, new products) sources, different types of cooking (sous vide, slow slow cooking, low/no temperatures), movements elsewhere (Slow Food) etc. Sure, the chefs featured in their articles/events (eg Le Fooding) will benefit and thus be marketed.

If it sounds like I'm defending them and the movement, you're correct. Having heard them and read them (the writers, that is) as well as eaten at many of the restos championed by them (and I agree with Felice that it's nice to eat well and reasonably inexpensively) - I think they're sincere. You may say, well, by bally-hooing these "new young chefs" the writers are marketing them. In a sense you're correct, all French food critics promote French cuisine (was it Pudlo or Simon who said in his book recently that inevitably all French food critics want French food to grow and succeed, otherwise they'd have no work). The difference is that with Omnivore and a bookstore associated with the Fooding movement, they're saying, hey guys take a look at what's going on in Girona, Bangkok, California, Chile, South Africa, etc - in both food and wine - don't just read Escoffier. They're not, like G and M, merely finding talent and promoting it.

I'm as cynical as the next guy and I too have seen trends (millefeuille, purees, kiwis and other "exotic" fruits, pumpkin soup, layered amuse gueules) come and go. Only time will tell with this bunch, but at this point, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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. . . .

If it sounds like I'm defending them and the movement, you're correct.  Having heard them and read them (the writers, that is) as well as eaten at many of the restos championed by them (and I agree with Felice that it's nice to eat well and reasonably inexpensively) - I think they're sincere. 

. . . .

I hope they'd even be defended by their critics. It sounds as if this kind of interest is what France needs to maintain its gastronomic verve. A clear view of the future is often little more than a realization of a stagnant situation. Three star restaurants as we know them, may be a thing of the past. The king is dead, long live the king. If haute cuisine dies, we will reinvent a new one, if there's interest and all this seems like interest to me. It's happening in Spain where diners and chefs are less tied to a rigid form of how it must all be done. Japan is an excellent example of a place where excellence in food and cooking can exist in different and incomparable forms side by side. The grandeur that is restaurant dining in France on a Michelin yardstick is a pinnacle of western civilization, but change is inevitable and haute cuisine will not live in a vaccum as a museum for tourists. The future will ultimately go to the innovators, not the defenders of the old.

One has to follow one's heart and mind. I'm as impatient with those who set the high points of the past as a narrow guide to the future as much as I'm offended by those who have learned nothing from the past and experiment blindly. There are as many charlatans peddling the past as there are those profiting from our gullibility in regard to the new. The moral of The Emperor's New Clothes is as cynical as it appears to be wise. I'm always leary of put downs of what some people don't understand and rarely concinvced others understand that which they claim to understand. I am far more willling to be fooled a third time, than to miss an experience I just might find interesting.

Of course l'Ambassadeurs on alist of restaurants is going to make that list fit into shoestring budgets. Rising costs and a broadening appreciation for good food among a broader middle class are two reasons why young chefs will work on a budget, but apparently this movement, if it is a movement, cuts across a broad path.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I tried to find a web site for "Omnivore". Can anyone provide a link? It's really nice to hear that the guidebook writers are putting their jobs ahead of adroitly and as clear-minded as possible guiding the people who buy their books.

All I am saying is that I find these shoestring restaurants unexciting and unfulfilling. They symbolize what restaurant-going in France has been reduced to. I haven't been to a lot of them, including all these new bistros in Paris. But I have a good idea of the concept from having dined in several in the Provence-Cote d'Azur region. It's new-fangled everyday dining that is the primary reason for driving me away from France into Italy. The new restaurants may or may not be a Godsend for people who want to dine without blowing a whole lot of money. It's a matter of taste. At that price level in Nice, I prefer La Petite Maison or La Petite Alsace over places like Jouni or Kai's Passion. In other words good, honest bistros which, I believe, these shoestring restaurants are killing off. I can't blame the chefs who have no other path to follow. It's really the fault of the idiots who run the country.

Before I forget, when are food writers in France going to stop comparing a plate of food to the works of illustrious painters?

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In other words good, honest bistros which, I believe, these shoestring restaurants are killing off.

But they are not promoting "shoe string" restaurants. The Bristol, Astrance, and Les Ambassadeurs certainly don't qualify as "shoe-string" kind of places.

That said, a good portion of the restaurants listed do provide great value for your money by serving exceptional food at prices that everyone can afford. And many, if not most, of the places chosen are "honest bistro-type" places: Chez Michel, La Cerisaie, L'Ourcine, La Regalade, Le Beurre Noisette, etc.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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A few young chefs are getting the grande luxe hotel jobs, of course; but only little chef-restaurateur places in which chefs can at least take pride of ownership comprise the overwheling majority of new restaurant formation in France. Also, I consider L'Astrance (where I have eaten) a rare quasi-exception. (Does anyone know how many chefs Barbot has in his kitchen?) Regardless, I'll never forgive them for giving us two bottles of supermarket Morvedre (a white and a red) with the chef's tasting menu; a real insult to our host who was a regular client of the restaurant.

By "good, honest" bistros, I meant the ones that still try ro offer classic French food in a generous fashion.

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I think what we're talking about here is dilution, internationalization and a start towards regression to the mean. What we are seeing in these restaurants has similarities to we are seeing in other domains of high leisure, say, "luxury" hotels and resorts or so-called luxury goods where you see Prada and Gucci stores in factory outlets for which such companies are making deliberately inferior goods. It's bringing the so-called good life to, as Bux writes, "a broader middle class." It's a fact of life, and being elitist or defeatist about it (which I am sure everyone thinks is the way I am about it) isn't going to change it. All I can do for myself is try to work around it, but always keeping an open mind. In fact at dinner tonight I reminded my wife of a one-fork-and-spoon-in-the-Michelin restaurant in Cavaillon (Auberge de Cheval Blanc) that fits into the kind of restaurant we have been discussing. We enjoyed the meal a lot, and it was a far better choice than these town square brasseries where all the food has become industrialized. It's a good address to know about when antiquing in L'Isle s/Sorges, (maybe better than the former one-star that's there) but one that I wouldn't go out of my way for. On the other hand, it doesn't change the unalterable truth that the French aren't making restaurants like they used to. I don't think the people who call these young chefs the next generation after the Nouvelle Cuisine guys realize that in the 1960s, '70 and '80s restaurant-goers in France saw the creation of the restaurants of Bocuse, Troisgros, Guerard, Chapel, Lameloise, the expanded Mere Blanc, Senderens, Peyrot, Gagnaire, Verat, Girardet, Robuchon, Passard. Meneau, Bras, Loiseau, Outhier, and on and on. But even to put it in a present-day context of Spain, where the good restaurants are closer to the way France used to be (or still is, but less so) points out what happens when government gets off the backs of business. (My uninformed hypothesis is that the end of Fascism upon the death of Generalissimo Franco unleashed the creativity of chefs and other artisan businessmen and somehow allowed for more laissez-faire-ism). So write your French congressman and tell him to ease up on the fiscal burdens the government has placed on chefs and restaurant owners.

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I think what we're talking about here is dilution, internationalization and a start towards regression to the mean. What we are seeing in these restaurants has similarities to we are seeing in other domains of high leisure, say, "luxury" hotels and resorts or so-called luxury goods where you see Prada and Gucci stores in factory outlets for which such companies are making deliberately inferior goods. It's bringing the so-called good life to, as Bux writes, "a broader middle class."

From Authentic? Or Just Expensive? , a paper to be given at the Oxford Food Symposium on September 4th:
HAUTE cuisine, like haute couture, is a badge of status that has evolved from a sine qua non of human survival. Together they determine the face and figure that the affluent present to the world. Today’s massive shift in culinary emphasis from the vital to the cosmetic has had three interlocking effects: (1) Never before have so many consumers aspired to be gourmets. (2) Gastronomy is now a major industry with a large and prosperous clientele, requiring a complex network of specialist producers and suppliers. (3) This network is globally interactive, so that any country’s most prestigious restaurants are likely to be as ethnically indeterminate as its airline terminals.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This is an interesting intelectual discussion about the state of affairs in restaurants in france .

Broad generilizations are made .The fact is that there is one law that prevails.

That of the market place.MOst star restaurants keep on increasing their prices ,some to ridiculous levels because people keep on coming.( 3 to 4 weeks waiting list).So there is a big demand ,therefore you can say that the incentive to change is not there.Consequently a percetion that french haute cuisine is dead.

The majority of people ,specially locals can't afford these places ,so there is a big demand for reasonable places with tasy food.This is the area that attracts the young chefs who like to make a name for themselves.The talented ones have their own style.The tendency is to offer modern cuisine ,which is based on good ingredients and enhancement of their flavors.some come up with creative twists such as the use of asian spices.There are quite a few of such restaurants in Paris,

offering complete 3 course meal at 30 E.

You are lucky on this site to have someone like John Talbott who seems to be on top of all the bistrots that appear.FRance still is one of the best places on earth for good food at reasonable prices

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I tried to find a web site for "Omnivore". Can anyone provide a link?

There is a link but it's not very helpful as to content. No 19 just arrived in my boite aux lettres which I'll be noting end of the week. And as someone above has said, these guys see themselves as food writers not critics, they come from journalistic backgrounds/education.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I couldn't decide among "ex", "ageing" or "old".

How about "emeritus", which according to my father, was from the Latin e or ex, meaning out, and meritus, meaning he deserved it?
Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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. . . . and it was a far better choice than these town square brasseries where all the food has become industrialized.  . . . .

If I've seemed to be at great odds with Robert, I too have had the misfortune of ordering a simple salad of tuna at a little cafe brasserie on the main square of a little bastide town in Gascony, only to have it arrive topped with cheese sprayed from a can. After nibblilng on a little lettuce and cottony bread, we paid and left hungry. The day was saved with three kinds of foie gras and magret from the hands of André Daguin. Daguin no longer cooks professionally and I'll bet that cafe hasn't gotten any better.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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There are still chefs out there who are trying hard. Last week we dined at L'Assiette Champenoise, in Reims, a two-star where Arnaud Lallement -- I believe he is the son of the founding chef -- is aiming high. The dishes didn't quite have the purity and focus of those I tasted at L'Ambroisie, but several of them were very strong indeed, and it's clear that this place is serious about the food it offers. L'Assiette Champenoise was, for me, far more impressive than other two-star restaurants we had recently visited (e.g. Chibois in Grasse, or Le Moulin de Mougins under the new chef, Alain Llorca).

The wine list was huge and deep, featuring hundreds of Champagnes. The menu, in contrast, was surprisingly short: five of us, in the course of a single meal, managed to taste almost every dish on it.

There was a generosity about the entire meal and its presentation, and a sense of calm, pleasure and unforced experience that is rare to find nowadays in gastronomic restaurants. Perhaps Lallement has achieved this by only cooking a few dishes. Given tough labour laws and high taxes, it's not surprising that the big brigades of old are hard to come by nowadays.


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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The wine list was huge and deep, featuring hundreds of Champagnes.  The menu, in contrast, was surprisingly short: five of us, in the course of a single meal, managed to taste almost every dish on it. 

There was a generosity about the entire meal and its presentation, and a sense of calm, pleasure and unforced experience that is rare to find nowadays in gastronomic restaurants.  Perhaps Lallement has achieved this by only cooking a few dishes. Given tough labour laws and high taxes, it's not surprising that the big brigades of old are hard to come by nowadays.

Do you suppose you would have dined better had you had more choices? Or is is just as well that you had less array and a more controllable quality? Or to phrase it differently, were your expectations thwarted by the short menu?


eGullet member #80.

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