Britain's top celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been panned for the poor quality of food served up at his new deli at Nice airport.
The slating might have come as a shock given Oliver's reputation as a culinary-extraordinaire, but to anyone who knows airports in France, it will hardly have raised an eyebrow.
The super chef might have opened acclaimed restaurants, written best-selling cook books, hosted popular cooking programmes and encouraged thousands of young British men to don an apron but he is clearly powerless against to do anything about the curse of French airport food.
No sooner had Jamie's Deli opened at Nice airport promising to “tantalise passenger taste buds” with “delicious freshly-baked cakes and pastries” he was being bombarded by angry customers on Twitter.
The food was “dry”, “bland” and overpriced and the coffee was “undrinkable”, according to just a few angry diners who took to social media to sound off.
— dynemis (@dynemis) September 2, 2017
Love your food Jamie but just had the worst cheese toasty in nice airport at the deli! You would have been ashamed
— elaine ross (@ellieross28) September 13, 2017
@jamieoliver currently in your deli in Nice airport…food dry, food run out, food overpriced. No butter/jam for croissant. No happy at all
— Matt Beesley (@beeso74) September 2, 2017
But should we really be surprised?
Any hungry passengers who have ever passed through Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports in Paris will know that expecting to find something decent, let alone tasty is a futile task.
Granted you can find a Paul, an Exki, a Pret-a-Manger and a Brioche Doree not to mention a Starbucks and McDonald's but let's face it, the airport vending machines often seem more appealing. As does waiting for the in-flight grub.
Basically everything on offer just seems “dry”, “bland” and “overpriced”.
OK, at Charles de Gaulle there's the plush I Love Paris (if you happen to be in terminal 2E), named the best fine dining airport restaurant by one site. But surely anyone who wants fine dining in Paris heads to the city centre, not terminal 2E?
Complaining about the paucity of food on offer at French airports is nothing new of course.
In a blog post back 2011 popular Paris-based food writer David Lebovitz asked: “Why is the food so abysmal at Charles de Gaulle Airport?”
Lebovitz rightly asked why Paris airports don't have creperies, wine and cheese bars, Champagne bars or even outlets of some of the capital's best bistros.
Surely those leaving the gastronomic capital of the world would be desperate to spend their last euros on one final steak tartare, beouf bourguignon or salade de chèvre chaud?
Compared to what's on offer at other airports elsewhere around the world, the choice in Paris is pitiful.
Where's the wood fired pizzas, the sushi, the noodles, the freshly cooked Italian pasta, the Whetherspoons chicken Tikka Massala? Joke. Paris has been openign itself up to international food in recent years, but the airports are still sticking stubbornly with “le sandwich mixte” (ham and cheese on stale bread).
It seems airport chiefs in France haven't quite worked out that there's money to be made from hungry passengers who are having to spend more and more time in airports.
Among passengers' gripes were “the lack of comfort in the waiting areas, and the lack of seats and electrical plugs.”
But their main bone of contention was, yes you guessed it, the poor quality of restaurants and bars.
Jamie Oliver’s first eatery in France panned by customers who complained of “bland, overpriced” food https://t.co/TRLcG9QGP6
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) September 20, 2017
Angry diners at Jamie's Deli in Nice airport (which incidentally has one of the most spectacular approaches in the world) have called on Oliver “to get down there” and sort it out.
It's not clear whether the celebrity chef, who also opened a Jamie's Italian restaurant at the airport, has been spurred into booking a ticket to the Riviera resort but if does feel shamed into bringing his deli up to standard, then perhaps he can visit all of France's airports*.
Indeed if Oliver can successfully campaign to change the culture of school dinners in the UK, surely he can sort out French airport food?
*The writer has by no means visited all of France's airports, perhaps some of them offer an amazing variety sandwich mixtes?