Reopening of restaurants: the battle of the chefs


Régis Marcon, starred chef (1), signed an op-ed piece on Monday 20 April, published in Le Figaro, calling for "a partial deconfinement of responsible restoration". Surrounded by 17 of the most renowned chefs in French catering (2), he calls for saving "over a million jobs". A platform on behalf of the entire profession, not just the 1,800 restaurants that make up the "Culinary College". (3), institution guaranteeing French gastronomic know-how, which promotes a militant approach of "Restaurant & Artisan Producer of Quality", but to save a culture of taste, tradition and the pleasures of the table for the 160,000 French restaurants.

In 2010, French gastronomy is classified as "intangible cultural heritage of humanity" by UNESCO. Although in 2006, The Telegraph published an article based on a Wall Street Journal survey of 20 countries, according to which "the world turns its back on French cuisine. ». Although, in 2014, the New York Times also published an article entitled " Can Anyone Save French Food? ("Who can save French cuisine?") who claimed that French cuisine had become bland and predictable, that 70 % of meals in French restaurants were prepared off-site (sometimes even frozen).
Even if... as The Guardian points out... in an article of July 2019, the French still cherish their gastronomy and remain very attached to the culture of the soil, which highlights local wines and products. Some "clichéd" blunders are being pointed at a category of bistros with traditional red and white checkered tablecloths and chalk menus even as they "prepare" a beef bourguignon in the microwave. In 2010, when the French restaurant's meal was added to the UNESCO list of "intangible cultural heritage", the article recalls that "one had the impression that the French restaurant had become a museum piece, and a parody of itself. »

And that is also the whole point of the 17 chefs' appeal: to use the current health crisis that has been endangering them since their closure on March 15 to restore the honour of French cuisine and restaurants, which have long been an essential part of the national identity. But by innovating; that is to say, by knowing how to manage both tradition and what to preserve and what to update, while at the same time proposing safe conditions in the face of the coronavirus crisis and the deconfinement of populations.

Régis and Jacques Marcon

Reconnecting with the land and its riches

For Chef Marcon, it is also and above all a question of supporting the purchase of regional products during the health crisis and short circuits. In the kitchen, what counts above all is the taste of the food. To do this, it's simple: you have to eat fresh and in season. There is no industrial production on the farm, so there is more choice in the varieties. Provided of course that you take the trouble to test. Did you know, for example, that there are thousands of varieties of apples? But how many of them can you easily find in supermarkets?

It is therefore an essential approach from an ecological point of view but also from a gustatory point of view: eating local also means discovering new flavours because local products are often harvested when they are ripe, and transported the same day as there is no need for long transport. Result: when they arrive in the restaurant's basket and later on in our plate, they are very tasty ...

Chef Régis Marcon also wants to remember the founding principles of his discipline: service and generosity towards customers. On France Inter this morning, he says: " It is in our interest to take as many precautions as possible. He defines this forum as both a "..." preparation for the future and a cry from the heart "He said he was concerned about the disappearance of small restaurants, which he believes are the economic and dynamic link in many small villages.

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Cooking is only true when it brings us closer to nature...
Régis Marcon

"Mr. President, the chefs are asking you to reopen the restaurants! »

"Mr President of the Republic, the catering sector, which yesterday provided more than a million jobs, is now at a standstill. Many of us may not be able to get back on our feet if the cessation of activity continues. In spite of this, many restaurants and producers, committed guardians of our culinary heritage, despite their great economic distress, have volunteered to support hospital staff who save lives every day.

The Collège culinaire de France has been working for a month to build a new economic model for restaurants, a model that draws all the lessons from this brutal and unprecedented ordeal. The aim is to lay the foundations for a restaurant that is even more socially responsible, even more committed, with high health standards, good for our health and that of the planet.

We are waiting, Mr. President of the Republic, for the promulgation as soon as possible of a decree of "partial deconfinement of responsible citizen restoration". This decree will encourage the world of catering, from neighbourhood bistros to starred establishments, to follow and develop the new model that we intend to promote. Our ambition? New best practices in terms of food health, in the broadest sense, in line with the social and environmental expectations of the new world ahead.

Five commitments The Culinary College of France proposes five major commitments that citizen restaurants, deconfined as soon as possible, undertake to respect. This vademecum of tomorrow's restaurants will be set out in a booklet approved by the Ministry of Health, which will be able to monitor its implementation. The certificate of derogation will be filled in by the restaurant owner, displayed on the front of the restaurant: a visible commitment, claimed, next to the menu.

Every morning, we want to raise the awareness of all the staff, through a meeting to discuss the health experience of the previous day. At each of these 30-minute sessions, the person in charge of the establishment will recall the different points of practices and behaviours imposed, and will make sure that they are systematically observed.

Our customers must be made aware and reassured: with each reservation, we will send them a video or an e-mail presenting the health security measures in practice in the establishment. The customer and the restaurant owner will thus be united in a mutual commitment pact to respect these measures to the letter.

We must now all be completely transparent about the origin of the products we use, but also about the production methods. Many restorers are already making this effort: it must become a universal rule.

In addition, only fresh raw products should be sourced, paid at the right price, promptly, to our artisan producers. The list of products used in the preparation of the dishes should be available to customers on request, together with the contact details of our artisan producers.

The current crisis is also leading us to review social standards. When the restaurant reopens, working time in the restaurant will have to be shared, without discrimination, according to the number of people needed to resume activity. In other words, introduce rotation so that each employee can benefit from the same resumption of working time. This will make it possible to alleviate the cost of short-time working, in agreement with the Ministry of Labour.

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Like millions of French people and most sectors of the economy, we are all suffering the consequences of an unprecedented crisis. It would be illusory to try to return to the world before Covid-19. On the other hand, it is time, at last, to listen to the warnings that have been repeated over and over again, in a deafening silence, about good practices that can no longer be ignored. That is what we are committed to.

 Mr President of the Republic, help us to turn this terrible ordeal into an opportunity to invent a better world in which we will enjoy living. Reopen the restaurants. And let us reinvent gastronomy and French-style conviviality. We are ready. "
(Source : Culinary College of France)

A few days ago, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance called on the sector to make proposals on the conditions for the reopening. « I don't have the answer for the recovery but the sooner the better. But that will require restoring confidence. We're going to set up a working group to study the conditions for reopening. And I propose to open a dedicated website so that the restorers can give us their proposals on the sanitary conditions. If there is one sector in which the postponement of social and fiscal charges must be transformed into cancellation, it is the restaurant sector.. ", Bruno Lemaire said on April 16.

Duly noted.





To go further :

(1) Three stars in the Michelin Guide for its restaurant L'auberge-des-cimes in Saint-Bonnet-Le-Froid (Haute-Loire) since 2005 - 19/20 at Gault et Millau, five toques since 2009, Chef of the Year in 2001, ...
(2) Tribune signed by Yannick Alléno, Frédéric Anton, Christophe Bacquié, Georges Blanc, Éric Briffard, Arnaud Donckele, Alain Ducasse, Éric Frechon, Gilles Goujon, Michel Guérard, Marc Haeberlin, Régis Marcon, Anne-Sophie Pic, Éric Pras, Emmanuel Renaut, Guy Savoy, Mathieu Viannay and Alain Dutournier.
(3) The Culinary College of France was founded by fifteen French chefs in 2011, with the aim of promoting the quality of catering in France and around the world. Independent of the public authorities and the food industry, the network currently has 1800 quality restaurants (bistros or starred restaurants, small inns or large tables) and 900 quality artisan producers.

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