What is Nouvelle Cuisine?

Nouvelle CusineIt's light, it's fresh, it's artistic...it's Nouvelle Cuisine. You may have heard the term, but "what is it?"

Nouvelle Cuisine is a term coined to describe a new approach to preparation and presentation (plating). This culinary revolution of the 1970s transformed French cuisine.

Championed by Henri Gault, Christian Millau, and Andre Gayot in their publication referred to as Le Nouveau Guide (the new guide), it was a response to the view that traditional French culinary techniques (as represented in the Michelin Guide at the time) had become too staid and conservative. Le Nouveau Guide showcased the work of chefs, including Fernand Point, Alain Chapel, Jean-Baptiste Troisgros, his brother Jean Troisgros, and Paul Bocuse, who embraced a fresh culinary approach.

The guiding principles of Nouvelle Cuisine include:

  • fresh ingredients
  • rapid cooking with reduced fat
  • light, pureed sauces prepared from the natural juices of fish and meat Instead of heavy cream)
  • smaller portions
  • crisp fresh vegetables served at the peek of flavour
  • simple, colorful plating

Inspired by Nouvelle Cuisiness, Chef Ferran Adria's restaurant, El Bulli in Catalonia, Spain, developed a reputation as the best restaurant in the world.

RELATED: What's Hot: Molecular Gastronomy

One of the first American restaurants to embrace Nouvelle cuisine was La Macotte in Commack, New York.

Fast forward, to today and Nouvelle Cuisine influences can be seen in the cuisine of Chef Daniel Boulud.

A new generation of chefs, including Chef Jean Didier Gouges, is taking these influences to the next level.

Finally, one only need reflect on today's lighter menus incorporating small bites/small plates and fresh farm to table ingredients to realize that Nouvelle Cuisine has played a significant role in shaping the culinary trends of today.

As I have pointed out before, the lighter, fresher approaches initially championed through Nouvelle Cuisine are a perfect fit for spring menus.

For more inspiration for event menus, also read Celebrity Chef David Chrystian Talks About Event Menu Planning and  Maison Boulud Serves Up Marvelous Group Dining Menus.

Photo Credit: Jacques Lameloise

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