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French show the world their cuisine still rules

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16:24 CET+01:00
Thousands of classic French dishes will be cooked up across world on Monday as France goes on a global charm offensive to show its still king when it comes to fine food.

Monkfish in scallop sauce, pigeon stuffed with chesnuts and fondant au chocolat... French chefs were making mouths water
Monday in a global celebration of the country's cuisine.

More than 1,700 chefs in 150 countries were conjuring up French feasts in bars restaurants, embassies and even a prison as a part of the "Good France" / "Goût de France" festival, a massive diplomatic push to promote its famed gastronomic culture.

The one-off event has been organised under the patronage of France’s foreign ministry and Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.

France is hoping to remind the world’s taste buds just exactly why the Unesco designated French cuisine an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2010.

The carefully prepared meals will be designed to highlight French cuisine's capacity for innovation but also its core values such as quality and sustainability.

Inspired by the "Epicurian dinners" held by the legendary cook Auguste Escoffier across the world in 1912, the idea was revived last year by superchef Alain Ducasse.

The most unusual dinner of all will be held in London's Brixton prison, where Gilles Quillot, head chef at the French embassy, has been schooling inmates in how to prepare white asparagus among other delicacies.

"I was a bit nervous at the idea of coming into a prison, as you would imagine," Quillot told AFP.

"But I have to say that the guys have been absolutely fantastic... I've already offered a job to one or two" when they are released.

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The prisoners run a bistro called The Clink inside the jail where they feed up to 120 members of the paying public every night.

But the most colourful banquet promises to be in a Mughal palace in Udaipur in Rajasthan, where Sebastien Sanjou from the Michelin-starred Le Relais des Moines in the south of France is cooking up a feast for Holi, the Indian festival of colours.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will officially launch the dinners in Paris later Monday by sitting down himself to enjoy an aperitif and starters before tackling a main course, cheese and desert, all washed down of course with French wines and champagne.

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