Travel & Gourmet

What Does Haute Cuisine Mean?

We all often hear such terms as "haute cuisine" or "fine dining", as well as something about gastronomic cuisine. Still, few people can accurately define these words, know their history, and the people who introduced these phrases into our lives. In the new material, L'Officiel Cyprus reveals all the cards.
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Photo: FS George V

As a concept, "haute cuisine" comes from the French "Haute Cuisine," which dates back several centuries, or preferably in 1547, when Catherine de Medici, becoming Queen of France, brought with her from Florence, a team of chefs and winemakers who will lay the foundation of Haute French cuisine.
However, the celebration of life would end: in 1789, as a result of the French Revolution, aristocrats found themselves on the streets, and with them their personal chefs. That gave impetus to the development of restaurant culture, as the best chefs began to cook not only for a narrow circle of nobility but for the general public too. As a result, by the end of the revolution, hundreds of new restaurants had been opened in Paris.

Until the 19th century, something unusual in haute cuisine and the restaurant business did not happen. Still, the further the development of society and globalization went, the more one culture borrowed from another. So, for instance, the traditional French way of taking out all the dishes together, took from the Greeks, at some point become obsolete. Service "a la Russe" replaced it: dishes now were brought to the guests as they were ready and ordered.

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Paul Bocuse and Pierre Troisgros. Photo: Troisgros’ family archive

Global changes overtook the world of haute cuisine in 1900, when Michelin published its first guidebook, initially exclusively with information for motorists, and then introduced hotels that recommended staying. In 1923, they added a list of restaurants, and three years later, they began to mark the most worthy of them with a Star. In 1931, they introduced a three-star rating system, the criteria for selecting restaurants was as follows: "One star is a very good restaurant in its category, two stars are for the excellent cuisine, worth stopping by if you are driving nearby, three stars are outstanding cuisine, worthy of a special visit and trip."

Thus, with the Michelin guide's arrival, "Haute Cuisine" was becoming more popular and noticeable, and it was finally being defined. Haute Cuisine, or is commonly called today fine dining, is nothing more than a high-level cuisine characterized by sophistication, unusual recipes, and ingredients. It is about study and research. This is a kitchen that seeks to saturate and delight the receptors to give experience and impressions, emotions, and memories. Thus, haute cuisine sets the bar high for itself, recognizing itself as a new art form.

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Photo: Brambilla Serrani photographers

As an art form, haute cuisine exploded in the 20th century, from the nouvelle cuisine of the French to the molecular cuisine of the Catalan Adria or the Scandinavian manifesto of René Redzepi. But, the most significant thing happened to haute cuisine in the 20th century – the competitive and radical change of its "face," which once and forever abandoned its conservative pillars and even - opposed them and the precepts of Auguste Escoffier - an important French gastronome and writer.

The first to take this step was the French, such as Paul Bocuse, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Chapelle, and Louis Autier. Nouvelle Cuisine, proposed by them as a manifesto and a new reality in French restaurants, was an ode to the product itself and its value. The serving was supposed to be simplified, the sauces became lighter, and the cooking time was shortened. All this was a revolution for France, which for centuries followed the gastronomic style proposed by Caterina de Medici.

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Ferran Adria Photo: chef’s personal archive

Another important event that forever changed the world, particularly the gastronomic one, was the El Bulli restaurant opening under Ferran Adrià, who gathered around him a "team dedicated to creativity" and created a "technical" concept of the kitchen. (In the world, it is called "molecular gastronomy", but the term was born by chance - out of the need to title somehow the topic of the speech at the summit Ferran carried. Although, none of the chefs who are seriously involved in "molecular cuisine" like this definition). Ferran was seen as a modernist who later formed a new, powerful trend in the kitchen and even in art.
Many famous chefs of Spain and the world have worked with Ferran, such as his brother (pastry chef, now a chef and restaurateur) Albert Adria, Alvaro Martinez and Endoni Luis Aduriz (restaurant Mugaritz), Rene Redzepi ("Noma"), and Grant Ashatz ("Alinea").

Movements such as nouvelle cuisine and Adria's molecular one have subsequently inspired Rene Redzepi, chef at Noma in Copenhagen, to create his "Scandinavian cuisine" manifesto, which brought together leading Nordic chefs to create a new face for the Scandinavian cuisine, which at that moment has overgrown with clichés and mossy stereotypes. So, Noma became the number one restaurant in the Nordics, setting the fashion for the whole world for modern techniques and cooking methods, innovative products, and a new type of fine dining - simple, understandable, cozy (as the Danes say - hygge) and absolutely not pretentious.

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Noma restaurant in Copenhagen Photo: Noma

Like this, from pompous restaurant rooms with chandeliers, restaurants have made their way towards simplicity and comfort, forgetting about formalities and bombast. The haute cuisine itself at the end of the 20th and in the 21st centuries took the vector on such trends as seasonality and locality, vegetarian and vegan cuisine (the first was Alan Passard, who in his 3-star Arpege offered a full vegetarian card and set), healthy and light food from the previously forgotten or underrated ingredients. Michelin starred chefs have become the new "stars with all the world's eyes on them: this fame has allowed haute cuisine to become even more comprehensive, accessible to different categories of people and also introduced new concepts into the economy as gastro trip and destination dining/travel, which provided a significant growth of a new industry in the global economy in the 21st century.

Thus, the concept of gourmet cuisine is not just about the gourmet and luxurious food on golden plates, but now about a whole economic and social vision that unites people from all over the world who see food as something more than a way of satiety. Gourmet cuisine has given us a new art form and a new milestone in the development of globalization and the economy - thanks to fine dining restaurants and the experience they bring to their customers.



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