Top French chef in hot water for adding cheese to quiche Lorraine

Michelin starred Philippe Etchebest says he likes cheese so why not, but purists insist ‘we must respect gastronomic heritage’

A ‘revisit’ of the traditional recipe has sparked controversy in Lorraine
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A Michelin starred chef has sparked a furore in the French region of Lorraine for adding cheese to a traditional quiche Lorraine recipe.

Philippe Etchebest has two Michelin stars for the Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Émilion and is a judge on the TV show Top Chef. He published a recipe for the famous quiche on his YouTube channel earlier this month.

But, a problem: He said he was “revisiting” the recipe, and added cheese.

He even anticipated backlash to this in the video itself, saying: "I can already hear the purists crying foul because we don't put cheese in quiche Lorraine. Well, I do, because I like cheese.”

Big mistake. Some have now said the entire region feels ‘attacked’.

Laurent Miltgen, who has owned the trademark ‘quiche Lorraine’ since 2013, told L’Est Républicain: “When you’re a big Michelin starred chef, I don’t understand how you can ruin a recipe by putting cheese in a quiche.

“We must respect French gastronomic heritage at least. Under the pretext of revisiting or rebuilding, we can’t just do whatever we want.”

‘Ruined quiches’

It is not the first time that Mr Miltgen has stepped in to defend a traditional quiche Lorraine. In 2021 he came out against the tuna quiche recipe suggested by chef Cyril Lignac.

Mr Miltgen said that changing recipes can ruin them. He said: “In cooking programmes, it’s fashionable to restructure and revisit. So we regularly end up with ruined quiches.”

A tongue-in-cheek hashtag, #QuicheGate, has emerged on social media, including on Twitter. Users from Lorraine have added their view to the cuisine controversy.

One wrote: “How can this country survive if chefs of the calibre of Philippe Etchebest are putting cheese in a quiche and calling it quiche Lorraine?”

Another said: “There are lines we don’t cross.”

One said: “Forget pension reform and vaccines, I’ve found the most divisive subject among people in France on Twitter; should we have cinnamon in apple tarts?”

But this tweet was responded to by a user who said: “There’s worse! The #Quichegate created by Etchebest, who put cheese in a quiche Lorraine! Cinnamon has got nothing on this! We people in Lorraine are going to demand independence!”

The quiche even has its own advocate on Twitter, with the account of the Syndicat national de défense et de promotion de l’authentique quiche Lorraine saying that “you can’t just put whatever you want” in a quiche.

A traditional quiche Lorraine recipe uses eggs, cream, and lard or lardons, and nothing else.

However, a quick search online finds many results that would likely spark the ire of purists, including recipes with onion, seafood, vegetables, cayenne pepper and smoked salmon.

One US recipe blog even makes the sacrilegious claim that a quiche Lorraine “must be made” with Swiss cheese.

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