Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Malbouffe: "for me this business about junk food does not exist", says Michelin star winner

Over at Reuters, Caroline Brothers reports on a French chef who ditched his Michelin stars for a Big Mac:
It was hardly a conventional move for a gastronomic French chef with a CV studded with Michelin restaurant stars.

But Olivier Pichot, head chef and "creator of flavours" for McDonald's in France, says working for the U.S. giant which normally puts the emphasis on "fast" rather than "food" is a wish come true.

"For me this is a dream — I am head chef in gastronomy, and when I created my business the first thing I wanted to do was work with McDonald's," said Pichot, 33, whose country is little short of waging war on take-away food and where farmers' activist José Bové once burnt a McDonald's outlet to the ground. [Actually, JB and his comrades took the building apart.]

"My view is very simple: for me this business about junk food does not exist," he told Reuters at the Food Studio, a kitchen laboratory set up at McDonald's French headquarters, just outside Paris.

"A Chateaubriand steak with foie gras and lashings of butter, with red wines and hyper-fattening desserts, even if the restaurant has three Michelin stars, that can be 'malbouffe'," he says. Malbouffe, or bad grub, is the French term for junk food; coveted Michelin stars are awarded to top gastronomic restaurants by French tyre maker Michelin.

"There is not more fat in a McDonald's hamburger than there is in a cheesecake, or full-butter croissant, or a luxury pastry by (leading French patisseur) Pierre Herme."

He shrugs off criticism in the movie, Supersize Me, that McDonald's foods are sugar-packed and bad for one's health.

"No one forces a consumer to eat three hamburgers with three serves of fries and two litres of Coke," he said.

"McDonald's has an American image and that doesn't please everyone, but for me it isn't necessarily associated with eating badly. It's simply a question of being adult and knowing how to eat properly, and after that it's up to you what you choose." …

(Merci to Gregory Schreiber)

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