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France Enlists Big-Name Chefs in the Struggle to Regain Culinary Supremacy

Is French cuisine 'losing its global lustre'?

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Has France become a second-tier food destination?
Has France become a second-tier food destination?

France is seriously concerned about an alleged "Anglo-Saxon plot" to unseat them as the culinary epicenter of the world. The Telegraph reports that French foreign minister Laurent Fabius is launching a "gastrono-diplomacy" campaign to combat "fears that France's cuisine is losing its global lustre."

The foreign minister is calling in the big guns for this counterattack, enlisting legendary chefs Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse to assist with a special report that's slated to be released in January. The Telegraph gained access to a draft of said report and says that in it, "the chefs concede that France's global culinary influence 'is no longer the same.'" The report also calls the World's 50 Best list "unethical" and "clearly influenced by the industrial players that subsidize it." French restaurants snagged just five spots on the most recent World's 50 Best list, none of which cracked the top ten. (Of course, they're not the only ones to raise issues with the World's 50 Best list: Some have questioned the impartiality of the voting practices, given that voters sometimes get free meals at some of the priciest, hard-to-get-into restaurants in the world.)

The action plan outlined by the French government includes easing immigration guidelines for cooks who want to train with French chefs, launching "a project to promote French cuisine in hundreds of embassies around the world," and encouraging restaurants to limit the number of dishes on their menus "to ensure high quality."

Earlier this year The New York Times published a piece titled "Can Anyone Save French Food?", pointing out France's "withering" culinary traditions and welcome embrace of McDonald's, and declaring Paris a second-rate food city behind places like New York and Copenhagen. It also cited the shocking 2013 revelations that "as many as 70 percent of the restaurants in France were using ready-made meals produced offsite at large industrial kitchens," something that Ducasse has already taken measures to combat.