French chef says majority of France’s restaurants serve “‘industrial fodder'”

GlobalPost

A well-known Paris chef Xavier Denamur has criticized 70 percent of France's restaurants for serving ''industrial fodder'' instead of the cuisine for which France is famed.

The Telegraph cites Denamur, 48, as saying Michelin stars were a fig leaf, hiding an army of restaurants serving poor-quality, often factory-produced food often touted as ''fait maison'' — home-made. 

Denamur, an outspoken advocate of wholesome French food made in-house, appears in "Republique de Malbouffe" ("Republic of Crap Food"), a new documentary that claims to investigate the ''smokes and mirrors behind … a state with lobbyists but no parliament, with restaurants but no chefs, with farmers but no fresh food. A noxious regime whose motto could be; opacity, precarity, obesity.''

The film, directed by Jacques Goldstein, blames falling standards in restaurant kitchens on President Nicolas Sarkozy, who cut restaurant sales tax from 19.6 percent to 5.5 percent.

Denamur also reportedly lamented the rise of restaurant chains, blaming former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund.

Lagarde, he says, bowed to fast-food chains and food industry lobbies.

"[Big food groups] have gobbled up the little independent restaurants to end up serving uniform food, produced externally in a laboratory," said Denamur, who owns five restaurants in the trendy Marais district of Paris. 

And, Denamur said, "Malbouffe" has led to rising obesity in France.

IN 2010, Unesco declared French food a "world intangible heritage," according to a separate Telegraph article.

The UN cultural organization singled out French gastronomy as a "social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups." 

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