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Friday, September 13, 2013

Nouvelle Cuisine? What ever happened to Nouvelle Cuisine? Who was Fernand Point?

Nouvelle Cuisine began in France in the late 1950’s.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
Nouvelle Cuisine Poster.
by Thorsten Schmitt through 123RF.
The creators of Nouvelle Cuisine.
The creators were group of highly talented, and highly trained, young French chefs who sought to create a new, lighter, tastier and fresher style of French cuisine. All these chefs were influenced or taught by the greatest French chef of the mid-20th century Fernand Point (1897–1955).
These young chefs threw out the warming pans and lamps, the heavy sauces, the pre-prepared dishes and the vast displays of Haute Cuisine, and they caused a massive row in the process!  Established and recognized chefs who had worked all their lives with traditional Haute Cuisine did not, easily, accept any changes. There were many arguments, many were particularly vocal and public; the future of French cuisine was on the line

The creators of Nouvelle Cuisine's view of a chef
from the era of traditional Haute Cuisine!
Photograph though Yay Micro

What was Nouvelle Cuisine?
The young chefs working on this new and initially unnamed cuisine, were considered rebels, but in reality they were modernizers; they demanded the freshest produce, lighter sauces and dishes cooked when ordered with no dish ever being reheated.  Traditional dishes and the spirit of the recipes behind the traditional dishes remained; after all these rebels were French chefs. However, now with the changes made by these chefs many famous dishes would be fresher, healthier, lighter, tastier, and more colorful; new dishes with new ingredients, new cooking methods and new and different tastes were also brought to the table.
Only the freshest fruits and vegetables.
Photograph by Tatuyoshi Toriu (Marucyan) through RF123.

The name Nouvelle Cuisine:
The name Nouvelle Cuisine, was not used by any of these chefs, at least in the beginning, they had no name for what they were doing; though they knew very well they were making changes in France's traditional cuisine.  Then Henri Gault (1929 – 2000) and Christian Millau, both respected food critics and journalists, gave this cuisine a name, Nouvelle Cuisine, the New Cuisine. Gault and Millau later founded the famous French food and hotel guide the Gault-Millau in 1965.  The Gault-Millau guide, though less well known than the Michelin guide, is still the only serious alternative for anyone wishing a different view of grading restaurants to that offered by Michelin.

The years of the imitators:
With the publicity that Nouvelle Cuisine received came a demand for more restaurants that served this cuisine; Nouvelle cuisine  was suddenly in vogue and then its creators got a bad rap. Along came chefs and restaurateurs who knew little of the ideas of the cuisine’s creators, but they saw success and wanted to cash in. These imposters tried to imitate the originators and served large plates with diminutive but highly decorated portions for high prices. Over a period of a few years most of these pseudo Nouvelle Cuisine restaurants  were recognized for what they were and so they disappeared from the scene.  
Phoney Nouvelle Cuisine main course of duck breast.
Photograph  through Yay Micro.
Today's French culinary establishment.

Today the surviving founders of the real Nouvelle Cuisine are France’s grey-haired establishment and the owners and chefs of some of the France finest restaurants.  Nearly every single one of the rebels’ original aims has been achieved; they have created today’s Cuisine Française, French cuisine.
Even before the slow food movement there was slow food.
The chefs noted in this post laid the way for the slow food movement.
Photograph by Piti Tantaweevongs through  123RF.

   A few of the original creators of Nouvelle Cuisine:
 Paul Bocuse.
 Paul Bocus, has his Michelin three star restaurant in the village of Collonges au Mont D’or, 4 kms north of the city of Lyon.
 Paul Bocuse is also the founder of the world’s most prestigious international French cooking competition the Bocuse d’Or World. Bocuse is also the Chairman of the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, the largest food and restaurant and hotel management educational institution in France.
The Troisgros Brothers
The Troisgros brothers Pierre and Jean (1926-1983) built their Michelin three star restaurant and unique boutique hotel the, Hôtel Moderne, in the city of Roanne in the département of Loire in the Rhône Alps. The restaurant is now run by Michel Troisgros, the son of Pierre, and he continues to hold the three stars that the restaurant has held since 1968.  I usually do not recommend restaurants; however, Le Maison Troisgros is the finest restaurant I have ever been to anywhere, period. Le Maison Troisgros offered incredibly fresh, delicious and uniquely presented food;  the service is low-keyed and serene, but absolutely perfect, and along with all this comes a master sommelier.
Alain Chapel
Alain Chapel (1937 – 1990) is no longer with us; but while he lived he had his three star Michelin restaurant Alain Chapel  in Mionnay, north-east of Lyon.

 Alain Senderens
 Alain Senderens, now over 70 years-old and still a rebel; until 2005, he was the executive chef at the Parisian Michelin three star restaurant the Lucas Carton. In 2005, he closed the Lucas Carton, calling it pompous and returned his three Michelin stars. On the same premises, Senderens opened a new restaurant called Senderens, with Jérôme Banctel as the chef de cuisine. Senderens  is not inexpensive, but it serves incredible meals at half the prices of the Lucas Carton.  Despite his original snub of the Michelin awards Michelin awarded his new restaurant, in 2006, two of the three stars that he had previously returned. 
Michel Bras 
 Michel Bras took over his mother’s restaurant, and under his watch it received two Michelin stars.  Then he built his own restaurant and hotel, named Michel Bras, which quickly gained 3 Star Michelin stars. The restaurant is set above the town of Laguiole in the area of Aubrac in the département of Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrénées. In 2003 with Michel’s son taking a more and more prominent role in the restaurant and hotel the name was changed to Michel & Sébastien Bras in 2003.
         Francois Bise
Francois Bise, is no longer with us, but his three star Michelin Guide restaurant Auberge du Père Bise  is set close by the beautiful Lake Annecy in the département of Haute-Savoie in the Rhône Alps. Under his daughter Sophie Bise, the Auberge du Père Bise still has three stars.
 Georges Blanc

 Georges Blanc built his three star Michelin restaurant now with its Relais & Chateaux hotels and spa in the village of Vonnas in the département of Ain in the Rhône Alps.
Michel Guérard
 Michel Guérard built his Michelin three star restaurant Le Prés d’Eugénie along with its hotel and spa in Eugénie-les-Bains, in the département of Landes, Aquitaine. Michel Guérard is also the creator of Cuisine Minceur, a lighter, healthier style of cooking that avoids most fat and cream.
Eugénie-les-Bains where Michel Guérard  has his spa and restaurant developed alongside the original spa of Saint-Loubouer, close to Biarritz; a site  that was loved by Empress Eugénie, wife of the Emperor Napoleon III and named after her. That original spa is now part of Eugénie-Les-Bains.
Louis Outhier
Louis Outhier  created his Michelin three star restaurant  L'Oasis, in  Mandelieu-la-Napoule, then a village, now a town of over 20,000 just 10km from Cannes. He was awarded his three Michelin Stars in 1969, and he kept them until he retired in 1988.  Among Louis Outhier’s protégés is Jean-Georges Vongrichten with his own three star Michelin restaurant at his flagship restaurant Jean-Georges in New York City. 
The town of Mandelieu-la-Napoule.
When Outhier retired his restaurant was vacant for several years until another of his protégés Stephane Raimbault,  purchased  the closed restaurant in 1999.  L'Oasis of Stephane Raimbault has since been awarded two Michelin stars and is run by the three brothers Stéphane, Antoine and François Raimbault.
Now you tell me what happened to Nouvelle Cuisine?

Fernand Point, the architect and prime mover.
From the chefs noted above Francois Bise, Georges Blanc, Paul Bocus, Alain Chapel, Louis Outhier and Pierre and Jean Troisgros all trained under Fernand Point.  Fernand Point’s own restaurant was La Pyramide in the town of Vienne,  in the département of  Isère,  in the Rhône Alpes. As you may now expect La Pyramide, was, in 1933, among the first  restaurants to receive the  Michelin three star rating when they were first awarded in that year.  In 1933, there were 19 French restaurants with three stars, now there are 27. Of France's 27 three star Michelin guide restaurants six are run by chefs, or their children, who were influenced or trained  by Fernand Point.  Fernand Point's own restaurant La Pyramid, in Vienne, is on the street name after him and owned and run by the chef Patrick Henriroux; it has two Michelin stars.
Fernand Point
 The only book attributed to Fernand Point was   Ma Gastronomie published posthumously, in France, in 1968. A reprint of the 1974 English edition was printed by Rookery Press in 2008 with an introduction by Thomas Keller,

Ma Gastronomie.
The only book written by Fernand Point. 2008 Edition.

Bryan G Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2013
For more information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman