Have a French dinner tonight

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IT’S NOT too late to make reservations for the biggest French dinner in the world. Today, March 21, 26 chefs from all over the country are joining nearly 5,000 chefs worldwide to offer a French three-course dinner all on the same day for Gout de France.

This is the fifth edition of Gout de France in the country,and the number of participating chefs and restaurants has increased from a small six to a belly-bursting 26. The participating chefs and restaurants this year are as follows:

• Jacq Tan of Apero and Duck & Buvette

• Ariel Manuel of Bistro Manuel

• Didier Derouet of Café Adriana by Hill Station (Baguio City)

• Gene Gonzalez of Café Ysabel

• Konrad Walter of The Manila Hotel’s Champagne Room

• Vicky Pacheco of Chateau 1771

• Jessie Sincioco of Chef Jessie Rockwell Club

• David Olyver Virrey of Eiffel Kubo (Malaybalay City)

• Armand Lafare of Element Boutique Hotel

• Martin Kaspar of L’Entrecôte Manila

• Bruno Tirel of L’Epicerie Gourmande

• Clément Damotte of La Mère Poulard Manila

• Richard Amado of La Vie Parisienne and La Vie in the Sky (Cebu City)

• Waya Araos-Wijangco of Gourmet Gypsy Art Café

• Robert Lilja of Maria Luisa’s Garden Room

• John Louie Gonzaga of Milagritos Restaurant of TRYP Hotel by Wyndham

• Hervé Clair of Raffles Makati’s Mirèio

• Trish Panlilio of Mulberry Door

• Glenda Maupin of Petit Bistro

• Justin Baradas of Enderun Colleges’ Restaurant 101

• Marc Aubry of Sagana French Bistro

• Jonathan Bouthiaux of Anya Resort Tagaytay’s Samira

• Cocoy Ventura of SGD Coffee Roastery

• Julien Cossé of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Spiral Manila

• Patrice Freuslon of Tauro Pintxos, Tapas, Wine Bar

• Menoy Gimenez of Tito Chef Restaurant

• Pierre Cornelis of Vatel Restaurant Manila

More cities are represented this year, such as Baguio and Malaybalay. Jean-Jacques Forte, Cultural Counsellor of the French Embassy in the Philippines said, “I think new places and new chefs are willing to participate because they believe, and I think they are right, that it will help them get better and well-known.”

The initiative started as a project of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and renowned French chef Alain Ducasse. It followed the inclusion of the “Gastronomic Meal of the French” in the UNESCO World Intangible Hritage list.

As for the increase in number of participating restaurants, Mr. Forte said, “It was that the public likes it. People like it, and the proposal is very good, to discover French gastronomy, but also together with the Filipino context… it’s a dialogue between cultures and culinary traditions.” He also points out that worldwide, the number of participating chefs have also increased, with the present 5,000 an increase from last year’s 3,500.

The increase in participating restaurants around the world might point to a continued dominance of French cuisine in the world’s collective memory, but Mr. Forte said, “I wouldn’t say ‘dominance.’ There are a lot of culinary traditions which are excellent all around the world. Maybe the specificity of French culinary tradition is in its diversity.”

Of the several chefs who presented at a launch last week at the Manila Hotel, our clear favorites were the scallops from that hotel, served with white asparagus and foie-gras sauce, and then poached egg wrapped in salmon from Sofitel, and an unassuming Coq au Vin with brandy from Mulberry Door. The menus from all the restaurants range in price from P900 to P4,950.

This year’s edition also focuses on sustainable cuisine, based on France’s commitment to fighting climate change. After all, Mr. Forte said, “Gastronomy is not just a question of taste; it’s also a question of sustainability, a question of health… and responsibility.”

For more information on the participating restaurants and their respective menus, visit http://restaurateurs.goodfrance.com/en/participating-restaurants. — Joseph L. Garcia