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French food

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just out of curiosity, but this has been bugging me lately. Why is it that 'fine dining' basically means French or Italian food? Seems everyone thinks French food is the centre of the culinary world, and anything else is crap.

So many types of incredible food are ignored or dismissed, and pretty much every 'fine dining' place is serving the same stuff (while they claim to be creative). Wheres all the good ethnic food, where are all the truly creative cooks?

Even worse is the fact that we're serving up French 'bistro' style food and calling it fine dining... And these are the so called top restaurants in the city, hotels are equally bad... Am I the only one disappointed with the state of 'fine dining'? Anyhow, rant over, just needed to get this out...
post #2 of 16
which planet do you live on; clearly not earth or else you must really be living somewhere that is clearly a culinary void. Just off the top of my head in the UK we have an Indian and Chinese Michelin stared restaurants as well as restaurants which specialise in British food; through out Europe their are Michelin stared restaurants which represent the food of those cultures; in the USA you have chefs like Keller and Trotter who use indigenous ingredients. How much more do you need! and if these chefs aren't creative enough for you please tell me what in your opinion they could do more of or with?
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Must be. I live in a city of a million, and no restaurant would be worth a single Michelin star IMO...
post #4 of 16
Hi Mike,

I have to agree with chefpeter on this one.

The ability to dine "International" in the USA and Europe is not a problem.Granted, you need to be in or near a metropolitan area that will support the vast numbers of cuisines. Asia, North and South Africa, South and Central America,the middle east the Caribbean, South Pacific. Now the ability of these cuisines to perform on the level of Gagniere, Passard, Blumenthal, Robuchon,Bras and the like is really the question.When you dine on Moroccan or say Lebanese cuisine, you go into the dining experience understanding the food should be delicious, but is "fine dining" what you expect?Probably not. You cannot ignore the importance of French technique and cuisine on the culinary world,Nor what Katherine de Medici did to elevate the style in which we dine.Without French technique we would not have Keller doing beautiful food at a very high level.Also, most cuisines and countries other than the US and Europe do not have a rating system in which they gauge there cuisine.You say we call Bistro food fine dining, I don't think so.Le Halles and Bistro Jeanty come to mind for me as fun, classic bistro food.
I also don't think that the general public thinks that all food is crap that is not considered fine dining.

Mike, it would be useful to this discussion if you can define your ideas of fine dining.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #5 of 16

exactly

as I said b4; unless you really do live on another planet this debate really has no value for those of us who have an appretiation of what happening in the culinary world
post #6 of 16
I have to agree to the original point. If I say to a friend, "how about "fine dining"?" it is instantly assumed to mean that I am suggesting either a French or Italian establishment. As a result, I rarely ever suggest it lol. I think there is a LOT of absolutely fabulouse foods offfered at many nationhood oriented establishments.

As to why? Well, it is a matter of 'who' got the 'reputation' first. The French and the Italians were the ones to do so (thinking of the early days of NY, and even the days of the monarchys that ruled many of the planets countries, untill they released control....). Not to say that French food is any better than Thai (or any other nation). Its not. Its mearly different. Some will say more elegant, others a body orrafic. Me, I like Indian on days I just don't feel like cutlery, pizza on days I don't even feel like plates!

As to the 'whats happening', here there have been many restaurants try the (for example) "Greek "fine dining" experience" and fail in under a year. Some of these places have had really good food in really fine establishments. But if they call themselves "fine dining" and don't serve French or Italian, they just don't last long. Another concideration is that certain words also evoke certain cost equasions. Fine = expencive.


Personally, I love it when a restaurant simply names itself for the nations food it serves, and leaves it to the patrons as to whether or not it was a fine experiance.
Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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post #7 of 16
Well maybe in Mike's part of the world fine dining implies French or Italian food. Don't get down on him. It's a regional thing. It's still used by some restaurants in parts of the US to set themselves apart from the supper clubs and the mighty fine cuisine that's served at truckstop diners. You have to live it to appreciate it. ;)
post #8 of 16
off topic, i must be dumb but whats a supper club?
post #9 of 16
That's probably a regional thing too. You're probably thinking dining and dancing at its best right? But no, it's nothing more than a fancy word for restaurant, which isn't normally fancy, or "fine dining." ;)

I've yet to encounter a supper club outside of the upper midwest.
post #10 of 16
i was reading about a swedish fine dining restaurant opening in london- at bistro prices
post #11 of 16

Supper Clubs

It's another word for steakhouse/seafood joint. At a minimum you wear slacks and a polo shirt to dine. They're good places to have a few drinks after golfing. I believe it's a midwestern thing because I've never seen one outside of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin USA (I've lived or traveled all over the world). They generally serve steaks, a few Italian dishes and basic seafood (lobster and shrimp).

Most are single proprietorships with an owner who's about ready to retire or fall over dead. I believe most are holdovers from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. They usually have an older crowd and a posting or newspaper clipping on the wall stating that "John Dillenger accidently shot his 45 off here in 193x." e.g. The Lighthouse in Cedar Rapids, IA.

My parents (born in the 30s) believe supper clubs are the hight of fine dining and frankly I like their kitsch factor. Some have great food (some suck badly) and none is the same as the next one. I guess it's midwest thing.
Den Henrickson
Marion, Iowa
http://www.strepera.com
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Den Henrickson
Marion, Iowa
http://www.strepera.com
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post #12 of 16
Mike may have asserted his question in somewhat absolutistic terms but the "essence" of his query does have some merit.

While it is absolutely true that Non-French fine dining restaurants exist, generally speaking, and I emphasize generally speaking, at least in America and Canada, most "fine dining" establishments, if they are not French, at least have French underpinnings.

As Cape Chef pointed out, this is due to the tremendous influence of the French on the culinary world.

Mark
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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post #13 of 16
Hmmm supper clubs. We have places like that here, but I don't think there is a generic term for them. There was the 'steak house' craze of the early eighties with chains like Ponderosa and the like... Now there is merely chain identities, not style identities for these types of places. Like 'outback jacks', no implications as to what they will serve.

OOOooo, hold on. My wife is the 'professional' at this one ;) I am going to get here to get a membership and respond too.
Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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post #14 of 16
Hello there,

This is my first post on the forum, but I have been following the Chef Talk forum lurking in the background while my husband (aka KeeperOfTheGood) is an active poster.

Just for the record, I am not a chef--I can't even call myself a great cook--but I do know restaurants. I work as a concierge and part of my job is to book dining reservations at top restaurants around the world (mostly US)

I just wanted to follow up on what Keeps was saying. I think the big reason people associate fine dining with French food is that many of the top chefs, the ones whose names people recognize, are either French (Daniel Boulud or Jean-George Vongerichten) and/or studied French technique (Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse). This handful of celebrity chefs will open multiple restaurants in different cities. Daniel Boulud - Daniel (NY), db Bistro Moderne (NY) and Cafe Boulud (NY & Miami). Jean-Georges Vongerichten - Jean-Georges (NY), Mercer Kitchen (NY), Vong (multiple locations). Thomas Keller - French Laundry (Napa region), Per Se (NY), Prime (Las Vegas). Emeril Lagasse - many self-named restaurants in Las Vegas, Atlanta & New Orleans.

I don't know if it's the food or the name recognition (maybe a bit of both), but these restaurants have become the most popular and most requested restaurants, thereby setting the standard for "fine dining"

That being said, there are also many popular restaurants featuring other cuisines. The latest buzzword seems to be "fusion", especially Asian fusion/Pan-Asian. These restaurants seem to be less formal and more trendy seen-and-be-seen places like Nobu (NY and Las Vegas),Spice Market (NY), Mako (LA), Koi (NY and LA), Asia de Cuba (NY, San Francisco). Ethnic cooking is alive and well, but perhaps not considered by some to be "fine dining" because it is less stuffy and formal than French.

And a word about steakhouses....in my experience, they are alive and well because there will always be an appetite for "good old American food". That's why chains like Morton's of Chicago, Ruth's Chris and Fleming's have locations in every major US city. There is also a Morton's in Vancouver and Toronto and Ruth's Chris is in Vancouver, Mississauga and Toronto. While they may be "chains", they are still formal (read: expensive!) and certainly worthy of the label "fine dining".

But that is just my experience...hope this sheds some light.
post #15 of 16
Excellent post, thank you Scotch! You obviously have a voice and a well spoken one at that, I hope you post more and lurk less in the future :)
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
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http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #16 of 16
I completely agree. Get off his back. Some of us dont have access to larger cities with ethic populations. And i also agreee you can get some darn good food at unlikely places. Fine dining is all about service and presentation. Because people expect it to be extrodinary, they are disappointed when its not. But when they go to Auntie Bee's diner they expect mediocre and they get the best food they've ever had. Its all relative.

Chocolate kisses :lips:
Coffeekitten
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection" - Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection" - Rose Levy Beranbaum
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