Unlike the clichés that portray French cuisine as a treat for the privileged few, French chefs are concocting all sorts of ideas for making their savoir-faire affordable for all.
Over the past 20 years or so, many chefs have been trading in the porcelain and heavy silverware for a simpler, more affordable cuisine, without compromising on quality. That was the idea behind bistronomy, aconcept that intertwines the excellence of French gastronomy with the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of French bistros. The menus feature simple ingredients presented creatively, with prix fixe meals at about €30. Some chefs, like the popular cooking-show star Cyril Lignac, play both sides of the field: alongside his restaurant Le Quinzième, with a prix-fixe dinner menu for €150, the chef from the Aveyron region opened a second address in Paris, Le Chardenoux, where prices range from €10 to €25 for a main dish.
3-Star Food Trucks Other stars of French cuisine have decided to take the concept even further, and have taken their savoir-faire into the street. Alexandre Mazzia chose to do exactly that when he opened a food truck in Marseille last summer.
“Whether I’m cooking for the restaurant or the food truck, it doesn’t change a thing. The passion, precision, and pleasure are the same,”
the chef who was just awarded a third Michelin star insists. In his black food truck, he proposes a set menu for €34, and even a suckling pork croque-monsieur, with white balsamic pickle, spicy, hummus, and smoky eggplant caviar for €12! Restaurant closings due to the health crisis have also inspired some chefs to reinvent themselves. After a decade in the world of haute cuisine, the 2-star chef Alexandre Bourdas decided to sell take-out sushi. “I’ve always done custom-made dishes, and promoted excellence,” he explains.
“You could say that I used to run a Formula 1 team, now I’m offering rallies for tourists! It’s a different, more affordable race, but the tools are as finely tuned as ever.”
Nowadays, you can enjoy one of his set menus for just over €20 in Honfleur, proving that French cuisine is above all “a gift of the self, not a competition.”
And finally, to get even closer to consumers, several chefs have followed the lead of luminaries like Thierry Marx, Joël Robuchon and Michel Sarran and agreed to lend their names to mass marketing by concocting recipes for ready-made meals prepared “sous vide.”