From 15 July 2014 every restaurant in France will have to specify whether it cooks its food from scratch, rather than dishing up food that was prepared in a factory off-site. According to The Guardian, mid-range establishments have met critique for using industrialised timesavers in the kitchen.
The new law is meant to buckle down by promoting businesses that do cook from scratch. Carole Delga, secretary of state, was reported saying the 'fait maison' (home made) logo would 'allow all, at a glance, to distinguish food that has been assembled from industrially prepared elements from cuisine created from raw produce'.
It is believed that closer to three quarters of restaurants in France relied on industrially produced food and that the 35-hour work week, high employment costs, and the rise of national insurance costs have impacted this. Ultimately, cheap, acquired goods slash preparation time and the need for pricey kitchen personnel.
Restaurants to display special ‘fait maison’ logo
Restaurants that make everything from scratch must display the words fait maison (homemade) or the logo somewhere visible, and those that have a mix must put it next to each cooked-from-scratch dish. Those that buy everything in, and so have no 'fait maison' dishes, still have to put the key phrase on menus to "remind their customers of the rule".
Iconic French chef Michel Roux (senior) weighed in saying, 'France is in danger of losing its proud food culture and traditions, not to mention its gastronomic supremacy.'
To unleash further havoc, there has been controversy over what 'brut' or 'raw produce' means. Under the law, to qualify as 'fait maison,' ingredients may not have been substantially modified – so no heating or marinating. But, for instance, food can be frozen, chopped, sliced, or shaped, and industrially made sauce bases are fine too – as long as it's noted on the menu. Industrially peeled is acceptable (except for potatoes – fast food joints shouldn't be calling frozen chips homemade.)
Nobody wants to sit on a bistro terrace, paying bistro prices for crème brûlée made from pre-mix. But the 'fait maison' law is causing unrest among French chefs.
Do you agree with the implantation of such a law and do you think it would work elsewhere in the world?
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