French restaurants and the question of « homemade » cooking

Few weeks ago, the French national assembly has adopted an amendment which should lead to the creation of a “homemade” label in French restaurants. This label will enable restaurants which do their own cooking to differentiate themselves from their (numerous) competitors who only heat up pre-baked food before serving it.

While the difference between homemade and prepared dishes is big in the collective mind, recent progresses made by the food industry have actually made it hard to taste the difference between the two (the main difference being the freshness of the ingredients and is not always easy to detect). A majority of French restaurants would actually have already made the choice of heating food up rather than cooking it themselves: the main reason for this is that restaurants often struggle to remain competitive and must therefore reduce their costs (to put it in a simple way, it is far cheaper to buy a bag of grated carrots than to hire a new a kitchen assistant. Furthermore, serving prebaked food also enables restaurant to offer some dishes all year and not only in season …

Some of the restaurant owners now call for further action and propose that only restaurants serving homemade food can display a “restaurant” sign, just as French bakeries do …

In a country celebrated for its gastronomy, the search for non-industrial food is more than ever a search for added-value.

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