Sacre bleu! French Chefs Are Secretly Serving Frozen Factory Food
A recent survey conducted for the National Union of Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe Operators reveals a third of French restaurants serve their customers factory-frozen products, according to The Washington Post. There is speculation that the real number is much higher since so many chefs would be embarrassed by such an admission.
This news is especially surprising in light of the country's reputation for fine dining and spurning talents like Joël Robuchon and Julia Child. In fact, UNESCO deemed French food culturally significant enough to include in its World Heritage List, as an "intangible" cultural heritage.
Restaurants are turning to shortcuts to mitigate the rising cost of food and labor and maximize profits. Factory-frozen food can be bought cheaply, stored in the freezer indefinitely, cooked quickly and sold to a restaurant patron for a hefty profit.
Many insiders are denouncing the practice of serving reheated meals without informing diners. One chef described it as "fooling customers," while a government official introduced an amendment to a consumer protection law to affix a logo for "house-made" meals, which lawmakers have recently made mandatory. Other groups want to put further measures in place. The restaurant union, for example, is lobbying to reserve the name "restaurant" for establishments that cook meals on-site, while businesses that serve factory-produced foods would be labeled as cafes, brasseries or inns.
French chef Escoffier must be rolling over in his grave.