Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

French restaurants succumb to the temptation


Recommended Posts

article from Telegraph UK

growing numbers of French restaurants succumb to the temptation of pre-prepared dishes, it may be what appears on your menu as Saumon au beurre blanc.  To the outrage of the country's gastronomes, traditional French cuisine is under threat as chefs turn to industrially produced pret à manger products... days when a Gallic chef could boast of 86 different ways to make an omelette are fast disappearing.  Many younger chefs, it claims, would now struggle to produce standard fare such as a sauce Béarnaise or even straight-forward vol-au-vents.Le Monde described the trend as "attempted murder" in the kitchen, while the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné, said it heralds the end of a world famous culinary culture.

Is anyone aware of this trend, if it may even be called that? :rolleyes:

Is this simply the Telegraph's way of doing a bit of "sniping" at French cuisine? :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to post
Share on other sites

Any specific examples, or was this just a general smear?

Perhaps in some of the casual lunch spots and coffee barsthis happens, as it does in the US., but hard to imagine at a restaurant. This sounds like a lot of hearsay and innuendo, with nothing to back their statements up.

And even if their is some offender, how did this become a general trend?

Edited by menton1 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish that I could answer your questions on these in an authoritative manner but the article caught my eye, as well as piquing my interest, and I am hopeful that someone here at eGullet has more information on the topic ... anyone know more? :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm surprised at the surprise. Here are just a few websites of French producers of ready-made foods:

http://www.metro.fr

http://www.distram.com

http://www.ubffoodsolutions.fr

These products are intended for "collectivités" (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.) and "petits unités" (small restaurants). Do you really think that the little restaurant on the corner lovingly simmers stocks, to turn them into fond de veau and that into classical sauces? In all likelihood it doesn't. Quite a bit of the ravioli you find in restaurants is industrially made and frozen or chilled. Lots of the fish you eat in restaurants, some of them starred, has been frozen. What about those lovely patés, terrines, rillettes on offer in the traiteur or charcuterie? Many of them are industrially made, in large quantities. A few traiteurs still produce their own products, but this requires long hours and hard work.

Here, from one of these sites, is a recipe for "Blanc de brochet, Nantaise" (pike in cream sauce), for 100 persons: Take frozen pike fillets, heat them in a steam oven, hold warm. Boil 5 litres of water and add 500g of KNORR PROFESSIONAL BEURRE BLANC SAUCE POWDER. Bring it back to the boil. Off heat, mount it with 500ml of thick crème fraîche and 1.25 kg of butter, cut into small pieces. Coat the fillets with the sauce; season and serve. If serving in England, you may leave out the additional cream and butter. (Last sentence was the translator's addition...)

In some cases, these products aren't as horrid as they sound, though many are far from the real thing. But if the reviewers and the customers can't tell the difference, it's not surprising that restaurateurs and shopkeepers cut corners.

You can always ask the traiteur or waiter whether the product they are selling is made in house (fait maison).

Jonathan Day

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

Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who understand French, there's a thread on this subject on Miam.

From an article in Le Canard enchaîné.

Briefly: the techniques of "prêt à manger" are entering cooking/hotel management schools in France: from now on the right use of a microwave oven, how to reheat bought sauces, how to use sous-vide, etc., will be learned by future restaurant cooks, as a result of pressure from large groups like Disney and Accor.

That, in itself, is not particularly dramatic. The worst part is that, while these teachings are entering professional training in France, some basic skills such as opening oysters, preparing a leg of lamb, steaming food and truss poultry will no longer be taught.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The worst part is that, while these teachings are entering professional training in France, some basic skills such as opening oysters, preparing a leg of lamb, steaming food and truss poultry will no longer be taught.

which is exactly why I was unhappy to read something which echoes your dismay, Ptipois ....
Many younger chefs, it claims, would now struggle to produce standard fare such as a sauce Béarnaise or even straight-forward vol-au-vents. To add to the dismay of food purists, more than a dozen traditional techniques - including how to truss a chicken, open oysters and prepare artichoke hearts have been dropped from the national cookery qualification, the Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnel

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to post
Share on other sites

Suppose that you were a gros bonnet, a well known, multi-starred chef. Suppose that your restaurant were profitable, but not hauling in the big money. You could establish a second restaurant, and a third, and a fourth; you could write cookbooks.

Or, you could make a deal with Picard (a leading manufacturer and distributor of frozen food) or Unilever (whose Best Foods division owns Knorr and similar lines) to lend your name to their products. The money-to-effort ratio in the second option is overwhelmingly better. Opening restaurants and writing cookbooks is hard work and risky, from a purely financial point of view. And, if you were approaching the end of your cheffing career, the temptation to cash in by endorsing powdered sauces and frozen quiches could be hard to resist...

Jonathan Day

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

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it would be no surprise that many restos in France and all over the world are using pre-prepared stocks and sauces for soup and other finishing; but the original poster said that the entire dish including the salmon itself (or at least that is what I inferred) is pre-made and that is what I took issue with.

N.B. I just love the Picard stores that are ubiquitous in France; someone should take the clue and start that type of operation in the US...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...