A bid to get French cuisine World Heritage Status is unlikely to succeed according to a Unesco boss.
“There is no category at Unesco for gastronomy,” said the President of the Unesco assembly of states who have agreed to safeguard ‘intangible heritage’ Cherif Khaznadar.
Khaznadar said only the elements specifically identified in the convention can make the list of intangible heritage and gastronomy is not among them.
Unesco started its list of "intangible" cultural treasures such as dance, carnival or other rituals in 2003.
In 2005, a bid by Mexico to have its food recognized was turned down.
"I am afraid that the presentation of a dossier on gastronomy will not get far," said Khaznadar during a round table discussion at the first Gastronomy by the Seine festival held in Paris.
The head of the group campaigning to gain cultural heritage status for French food said it should fit Unesco criteria because it is "a major element of French culture."
The French bid will be presented to the UN educational, scientific and cultural body next year, with a verdict due in 2010.
Michelin-starred chef Serge Gouloumès of Le Mas Candille in Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes, said : “France’s cuisine is known throughout the world. It is certainly a massive part of the French patrimony and culture, which is one of the main reasons why it should become part of the Unesco listing.
“When you think of France, you think of the food. However, he is partly right (Khaznadar) but this could be the first really different bid that is successful.
“I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we do not make it, as every person sees things differently and has their own way of thinking. It is partly political too.
“We love our country and our food, and we represent the best cuisine in the world. If Unesco does not recognise this fact, it doesn’t change anything.”
Photo: Serge Gouloumès by Oliver Rowland