Chefs battle for star position

A star-studded line-up of chefs is leading a fight to protect and relaunch the image of French cuisine

30 September 2010

A star-studded line-up of chefs is leading a fight to protect and relaunch the image of French cuisine.

Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon are at the head of a group of 14 who want to set the record straight as to the continuing strength of French cuisine and also react to the clamour surrounding the molecular cooking of Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal.

They are setting up an association known as the Collège Culinaire de France to reclaim leadership of cooking worldwide and aim to demonstrate “the vitality of our cooking throughout the Hexagone and round the world”.

Nine-Michelin star chef Mr Ducasse said: “French cuisine remains the strongest and the most modern. Many foreign chefs have done apprenticeships here, but that has not sidelined France. It is now up to us to take a lead in communication.

“We know how to do more than haute cuisine, but we do not say it enough.”

Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, near Barcelona, is regularly voted the best restaurant in the world and Mr Ducasse said that meant the media viewed Spain’s cuisine as the best in the world. He denied reports that French cuisine was old-fashioned, dated and lacking in inventiveness.

Joël Robuchon, the 26-Michelin star chef, whose rich flavours sounded the knell for nouvelle cuisine, backed him up, saying: “French cuisine is proud of its history and techniques, but it is also contemporary cooking, full of energy and feeding the colours of its time.”

Thierry Marx said they needed to be strong in getting the message across to young people.

While the college will stand up for French cuisine, it will also welcome professionals from other “industries of taste”, plus the tourist industry, to work together on a major event to highlight the strengths of French produce and cooking, themes that figure highly on the menus of the founders of the college.

College members are Yannick Alléno, Alain Ducasse, Alain Dutournier, Gilles Goujon, Marc Haeberlin, Guy Job, Régis Marcon, Thierry Marx, Gérald Passédat, Laurent Petit, Anne-Sophie Pic, Laurent Plantier, Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy. Paul Bocuse will be honorary president, with Michel Guérard and Pierre Troisgros the vice-presidents.

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