Five chefs join forces to create a meal fit for many kings!

French cooking still rules supreme: France pulled out all the stops for the largest one day gathering of world leaders at the Climate Summit in Paris

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When you live in France, it is always a delight to discover that little restaurant off the beaten track – often in the tiniest of villages – serving up good, fresh food, often made from home grown ingredients. This week, our world leaders had a treat in store for them on a grander scale: five chefs, each of whom have at least one Michelin star, got together to create a gastronomic delight at the Climate Summit in Paris.
 
With 150 leaders from all over the world present, this was doubtless no mean feat, but they seem to have pulled it off, which is not surprising to hear. With President Hollande as host, there were apparently 20 tables set around Le Bourget Conference Centre – which was, for obvious reasons, tight on security after the Paris atrocities three weeks ago. French President François Hollande welcomed at the table of honour US President Barack Obama, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 
 
"In November 2010 French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage"
 
The five Michelin starred chefs volunteered their services for the sumptuous meal, which must have been a welcome break after 12 hours of back to back speeches by world leaders. One of the chefs commented before the banquet “There are no showy or very expensive ingredients: we aim to impress with our cooking instead.”
 

The essence of French cooking

I thought about this quotation and realised that this is what truly excellent French cooking – or indeed any cooking – is really all about: it does not need to cost an arm and a leg, but it is the preparation and skill in actually cooking that counts. Where we live in the South of France, the famous cassoulet is very popular during these winter months. Originating from Castelnaudary, the dish is essentially a peasant stew, named after the pot in which it was originally cooked, the “cassole”. After perhaps a hard day’s work tending the vines in the Languedoc Roussillon region, the workers would come back to this wonderful dish, which had no doubt been cooking since the early morning. This is a great example of simple fresh ingredients being used to create a substantial and delicious dish. 
 

The fascinating world of French food… 

Delving into a bit of research on French cooking, I came across some interesting facts: French cuisine was codified in the 20th Century by a certain Auguste Escoffier (his name will doubtless ring a bell!) to become what is now known as haute cuisine. After this, the Guide Michelin was started to help people get to know about good French cuisine. General knowledge about French cooking has largely contributed to other Western cuisines and its criteria are widely used in Western cookery schools. In November 2010 French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”. 

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