SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOD & DRINK

Godfather of French gastronomy bans meat

The man seen as the godfather of French gastronomy, Alain Ducasse, as done something very un-Gallic and banned meat from the menu of his famous restaurant in Paris. The move, he said, was to find more "naturalness".

Godfather of French gastronomy bans meat
Alain Ducasse, France's godfather of gastronomy has gone against the grain by banning meat from his menu. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

Top French chef Alain Ducasse has gone against the grain of French culinary tradition by banishing meat from the menu of his restaurant at the famed Paris hotel Plaza Athenee.

Ducasse, whose global restaurant empire has notched up multiple Michelin stars, told AFP that turning over a new leaf to explore a lighter, vegetarian-style cuisine was about a search for greater "naturalness".

"The planet's resources are rare, we must consume more ethically and equitably," Ducasse said, repeating the word naturalness – a new fad of his – several times during an interview with AFP.

The new menu at the restaurant, which reopened on Monday, draws heavily on organic cereals, vegetables grown in the gardens of the famed chateau of Versailles built by France's "Sun King" Louis XIV, as well as fish.

The offerings include black rice cooked in the oven with shellfish, calamari and octopus; Mediterranean monkfish teamed up with bulgar and quinoa with shellfish.

Despite the accent on rusticity and simplicity, meals do not come cheap, priced at 380 euros ($500) a head excluding drinks.

Ducasse's new-look menu banishes cream while butter and sugar will be used as sparingly as possible.

"My obsession is to remove sugar," he said, adding that desserts too will take on a new twist.

"People ask us for cream or caramel with chocolate," he said, adding that he would not give in to such requests "otherwise it's just globalisation. We all eat the same fat and the same sweets," he said.

Twelve French delicacies Anglos can't stomach



Arise humble sardine

Ducasse also stressed that humbler varieties of fish were far more complex and challenging to handle, comparing the sardine to the far more expensive turbot.

Ridding a sardine of skin and bones and turning it into an "open wallet" involved almost surgical skills, he said.

"The humbler the product, the more attention it demands," he said.

"In this case it's 15 percent sardine and 85 percent work," he added.

There are also other radical suggestions at the restaurant, which had a three-star Michelin rating until it closed along with the hotel for renovation in October.

"One mustn't be scared to serve red wine with fish," said sommelier Laurent Roucayrol.

The 100-year-old hotel, a Paris institution, will reopen fully in September. A part of the hotel was reopened on August 1.

Ducasse's restaurant has been entirely redecorated but has not lost any of its opulence.

It is replete with mirrors and houses a cabinet filled with gold and silver and copper culinary objects from Ducasse's personal collection.

Service is posh, with guests welcomed with a herb juice and vodka drink served on a diamond shaped icecube in a crystal glass.

Ducasse denies it's over the top, adding: "We are not here to do simple things."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOD & DRINK

Reader question: Why can’t I find any mustard in France?

Limits on purchases are being imposed in some stores due to a global shortage of mustard grains.

Reader question: Why can't I find any mustard in France?

Question: I haven’t been able to buy mustard for weeks, all the local supermarkets seem to have sold out, is there a shortage?

After recent limits on purchases of cooking oil caused by unnecessary panic-buying, now another staple of French cuisine is hard to come by – mustard.

The reason appears to be a ‘perfect storm’ of events in the world’s three largest mustard-producing countries; Canada, Russia and France.

Canada, the world’s largest mustard producer which provides 80 percent of the seeds that France imports, was hit by an “extreme heat dome” in July 2021, that halved the harvest, prompting the country to limit exports, Michel Liardet, president of Européenne de condiments, a company that specialises in the manufacture and packaging of mustard, told Le Point.

READ ALSO French food firms given permission to change recipes for crisps, cookies and ready-meals because of sunflower oil shortage

The world’s second largest producer, Russia, has had embargoes imposed on exports following its invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, grain prices increased fivefold between April 2021 and April 2022, while the price of packaged mustard has risen by nine percent over the same period, according to the market research institute IRI.

The mustard shortage has prompted Liardet to call for an increase in French production “in order to be less dependent on imports”.

However, harvests in France have declined in recent years, in part because of a ban on the spraying of pesticides on seeds.

It has lead to empty shelves in some supermarkets, while others have imposed limits on mustard-buying.

SHOW COMMENTS