On Thursday, 19 March 2015, in 150 countries around the world, restaurants and embassies offered 1500 dinners to celebrate France’s gastronomy by inviting the public to share a “French dinner”. In each participating restaurant, the event paid tribute to a vibrant, open and innovative cuisine, while remaining true to its values of sharing, pleasure, respect for good food and for the planet.
The Goût de France/Good France project was organized on the initiative of Alain Ducasse and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
During the project’s presentation, Laurent Fabius said: “France’s heritage is its cuisine, its wines, (…). The Gastronomic meal of the French has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2010, but it is a heritage that should not simply be contemplated, glorified and savoured; it is a heritage that should be built upon and showcased.”
In the words of Alain Ducasse: “French cuisine is the interpreter of a cuisine that has evolved towards lightness in harmony with its environment… The common point of this event is generosity, sharing and the love of what is beautiful and tastes good. It will be a delightful interlude and an opportunity to celebrate French cuisine worldwide.”
Inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the “Dîners d’Épicure” (Epicurean Dinners) initiative – the same menu, the same day, in several world cities and aimed at as many diners as possible – in 1912, Goût de France/Good France reproduces that beautiful idea with the desire to involve restaurants all around the world.
Each chef offered a “French-style” menu in their restaurant with a traditional French aperitif, a cold starter, a hot starter, fish or shellfish, meat or poultry, a French cheese (or cheeseboard), a chocolate dessert, French wines and digestifs, while remaining free to highlight their own culinary traditions and cultures.
The cuisine was accessible to all, from bistros to exceptional restaurants, and based on fresh, seasonal and local products with lower levels of fat, sugar, salt and protein.
The menu’s price was at the restaurant’s discretion, and they are all encouraged to donate 5% of proceeds to a local NGO promoting health and the environment.
A gastronomic journey
France sent the world a real invitation to journey, bringing together more than 1500 chefs from around the world who took advantage of French gastronomy’s assets to express their talent and expertise through 1500 menus.
On 21 January 2015, all participating restaurants were presented on the goodfrance.com website.
It was possible for everyone worldwide to identify participating restaurants in their city/country and to book directly at the restaurant of their choice.
Many chefs posted their menu on the Good France website, to enable everyone to imagine the dinner they savoured on 19 March.
An international committee of chefs
Eateries around the world – from haute cuisine restaurants to bistros – were currently encouraged to apply on the goodfrance.com website, proposing a menu that showcases France’s culinary traditions.
An international committee of chefs, chaired by Alain Ducasse, has approved the list of participating chefs, including Paul Bocuse (France), Raymond Blanc (United Kingdom), Thomas Keller (United States), Kiyomi Mikuni (Japan), Paul Pairet (China), Joël Robuchon (France), Nadia Santini (Italy) and Guy Savoy (France).
A unique opportunity to enjoy and share the taste of France
This gastronomic journey was a perfect illustration of two important aspects of French culture: promoting local specialities and openness to the outside world.
It was an opportunity to share values that are dear to the French people – and which we need to continue defending ardently – with as many people as possible: conviviality and respect for our planet and its resources. And, most importantly, pleasure.
Now, more than ever, gastronomy is a leading aspect of France and its culture. It is a genuine pull factor for 60% of tourists visiting the country.
In addition to the participating restaurants, French embassies also took part in the event, organizing dinners in the residences of Ambassadors. “This will be a perfect illustration of UNESCO’s World Heritage listing of the Gastronomic Meal of the French”, said Laurent Fabius. “It is also a way to make France more attractive as a destination”, added Alain Ducasse.