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French superchefs launch new 'quality restaurant' label

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-10

A group of top French Chefs have launched a new label for restaurants of quality food, wine and welcome, in a bid to reward establishments that prepare their own food and do not offer a grumpy welcome.

A group of top French chefs have launched a new “quality restaurant” label to distinguish eateries that prepare their own dishes from lesser establishments that simply “reheat frozen food”.

The new designation would apply to less than ten percent of France’s 150,000 restaurants, according to chef Alain Ducasse (pictured), one of the members of the Collège Culinaire de France that is applying the label.

Most restaurants “only do industrial cooking”, he told AFP, adding that the label, in the form of a plaque that would hang outside the restaurant, would only be offered to establishments that gave information on the origin of their food, prepared their own meals and offered a genuinely warm welcome to patrons;

"These days, the average person has no idea what they are in for when they open the door to a restaurant," Ducasse said, noting that recognised establishments would need to have an in-house chef and not "someone who reheats a frozen bag".

Ducasse insisted that atmosphere was as important as the quality of the food and that the “quality restaurant” designation could not apply to eateries where customers were subjected to grumpy service: "There are too many restaurants in France where when you enter, they sulk.”

The 15-member culinary group -- which counts as members Ducasse and other famous chefs, such as Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy -- will grant the label to restaurants who request it, if the establishment meets its standards.

To maintain the designation, restaurants will need to score a client satisfaction level of at least 75 percent on a website set up for the initiative.

The chefs estimate that around 10,000 restaurants are currently in a position to get the label.

David Lely, whose restaurant "Les Garcons" in Paris is one of the first to be awarded the designation, said the initiative "unites people who respect the trade" and will "push us to do even better".

"We want to use our reputations and experience as top chefs to serve the whole profession," Ducasse said, accusing the French government of "doing nothing" to help the restaurant industry, despite its significant benefits to tourism and the economy.

"We cannot wait for things to get worse," he said. "We cannot continue to let media in the English-speaking world say 'France is not what it was' in terms of cuisine."

While the new designation was welcomed in many quarters, others warned against yet another label appearing on the French food scene.

Francis Attrazic, president of the “Maitre Restaurateurs” (master restaurateur) association, which has 2,700 members chosen under much the same criteria, said: “We should be mindful that competing initiatives which share the same goals are only going to confuse customers.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2013-04-10

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