From garlic to mashed potato: France's huge food record-breakers

Food is sacred in France so no wonder chefs, towns and festivals want a place in the record books for their culinary creations

The Tarn village of Lautrec made the world’s longest pink garlic plait; a French Michelin star chef made the largest serving of mashed potatoes

As if the chef’s lot was not already tough enough, back in May 2023, the Nigerian chef Hilda Baci claimed the Guinness World Record for the longest solo cooking session, after chopping, peeling and frying her way, uninterrupted, through an exhausting marathon of 93 hours and 11 minutes.

During this time she created 100 different dishes. [Hilda then lost her record in November to Alan Fisher, an Irish chef.]

It seems culinary exploits of all kinds lend themselves to record-breaking endeavours, and the French, too, are as keen as moutarde to get involved.

Read more: What links a pizza with 800+ French cheeses and Toulouse rugby club?

Record-breaking potatoes

Back in 2014, the esteemed and Michelin star-laden chef Joël Robuchon led a team of 200 apprentices at Futuroscope theme park near Poitiers (which was celebrating its 25th anniversary) in creating the largest ever serving of mashed potatoes (pommes purées).

Robuchon was already well known for the supreme quality of his mash, due in no small part to his apparent aversion to scrimping on butter – thus for his record-breaking effort, which required 800kg of potatoes and 80 gallons of milk, he added an artery-alerting 551lbs of local Poitou-Charentes beurre.

Not to be outdone on the spud front, incidentally, the heaviest potato ever grown was a 4.98kg (10 lb 14 oz) whopper from Peter Glazebrook, weighed at the National Gardening Show at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK, on September 4 2011.

Read more: Why people in France also call Toussaint break ‘the potato holidays’

World’s longest garlic plait

While many foodie record-breaking attempts – be they produce growing, meal preparation or simply eating – are personal or part of a wider publicity effort, others are simply for fun or to promote a product or regional dish.

Last summer, for example, allium-addicted residents of the Tarn village of Lautrec fashioned the world’s longest pink garlic plait (called a manouille) and proudly paraded the 24.30m garlic snake through the streets with enormous civic pride.

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