On 19th March 2015, French cuisine will be feted around the world. A French-inspired menu will be served in more than 1,300 restaurants in the Goût de France initiative launched by chef Alain Ducasse and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Together they had the idea to recreate what famed chef Auguste Escoffier started back in 1912, “Les diners d’Epicure”.
The idea is simple: the very same menu is served at the same time in different locations around the planet. What might have seemed an impossible challenge back in 1912 could now be an easy task, yet we’re not talking about the pure technical aspects of such a global feast but of the nature of the event. Cooking will not be the most difficult part of the equation – it is the image-making and the storytelling around the event that will decide whether or not it’s a success.
The project has started a movement. A huge number of restaurants applied to be part of the initiative. From India and China came enthusiastic and positive answers. Italy will hold the most dinners, in part due to its longstanding relationship with French cuisine. To participate, restaurants must respect a framework of a French menu with multiple courses and a chocolate dessert. There are no recommended ingredients but freshness and seasonality are key.
French chefs all around the world are keen to demonstrate how much their national cuisine is still relevant, how it manages to encompass the latest food trends and adapts itself to any local food landscape. French embassies will also host culinary events and dinners tomorrow. The message is clear: France is delighted to promote its culinary heritage.
And this is necessary. Over the last few years, France has been relatively quiet while numerous countries have promoted their own cuisines. The likes of Peru, Denmark and Spain have invested time and effort to teach the world about their gastronomic offerings, but France has somehow forgotten to promote its own strengths. The richness of the culinary scene in France and the wealth of amazing products have not been told to the world for years.
The Goût de France, or Good France, campaign is launching a comeback and acknowledges at the same time that French cuisine needs a marketing revamp. Both Chef Ducasse and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are very open about it: French cuisine is a great tool for promotion and influence. It can attract more visitors to France to experience the delicacies that abound in all parts of the country. It should also serve to increase the influence of French cuisine abroad.
Here lies one of the greatest pieces of news brought by the Good France project. A huge number of foreign chefs will serve this French-inspired menu. It shows how much they care about French cuisine and reflects its importance in being a backbone of culinary training. In this instance, Good France is a positive and dynamic tribute to the French cooking culture.
Images: Heikki Verdurme, Maedi Frederic de Lamure, Pierre Monetta