Fait maison

fait maisonDo you realize that when you dine out, you could be eating re-heated frozen food instead of a meal freshly prepared by a chef? It’s all too common. Recently, fifteen of France’s greatest chefs, led by super-stars Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon, announced a label to distinguish les restaurants de qualité – those that resist the siren song of industrial foods and stay true to food that is fait maison (feh mayzohn), or “house made” from fresh ingredients. According to Ducasse, of the 150,000 restaurants in France, three-quarters are serving pre-made meals that they’ve heated, doctored a little with a fresh vegetable or two, and plated artistically. It’s easy to see why. Serving food prepared this way results in a margin of 80%, as opposed to those who have to hire more skilled help to produce a meal, which results in margins of about 30%.

logo-du-label-restaurant-de-qualiteThe band of fifteen, members of le Collège culinaire de France, propose that those who are committed to freshly prepared foods have an oval plaque installed in front of the restaurant to notify potential customers that they can have confidence that the chef is committed to food fait maison. But not just anyone can get one of these plaques. You must open your fridge, freezer, and cupboard doors to prove that you’re committed to using fresh ingredients, prepared in-house. You’ve got to prove that there’s an actual chef in the kitchen, not just someone good at hitting the defrost button. In addition, the quality of hospitality will matter. This is a good idea. I still remember a dinner on our first trip to Paris when the waiter took our poor little jet-lagged family in dislike and treated us with chilly rudeness. We still wonder what horrible sin we committed to deserve such treatment.

To get the plaque, le Collège must unanimously select the restaurant. To keep it, at least 75% of the clients who respond on the Collège‘s internet site must be happy. The chefs predict 10,000 potential members. I must say I hope that restaurant where we were treated so rudely won’t be one of them. Not that I’m holding a grudge…

513zaMYn6rL__SL75_Alain Ducasse Nature: Simple, Healthy, and Good

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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