Healthy, gourmet food major trend in fast dining says French trade show director
PARIS, Sept 20 — France's Rapid & Resto Show (September 19 and 20 in Paris) looks at what's taking place in the world of fast food, and this year the keywords are good value, healthy and gourmet ingredients. The nation's top chefs are aware of the trend and have started catering for it, explains show director Alexandra Frantz in an interview with Relaxnews.
Relaxnews: What is the major trend in fast-food dining?
Alexandra Frantz: Snacking is the underlying trend that sticks out the most, in a good way. Nowadays, we tend to call it “fast good.” Consumers are looking for healthy, gourmet products. Don't forget that we are in France, the land of gastronomy. Consequently, people look for products that look good: they have to be colorful and natural.
R: Consumers know what they want: products that are healthy and can be eaten fast, and that aren't expensive ... Is it feasible?
AF: Yes, that's where both fast-food chains and independent outlets are heading. Nowadays, the average consumer can get a €8 menu that includes a starter, a main dish and a dessert. That's much better value than what's on offer in classic restaurants. With the rise in product quality, consumers can now expect a good value, quality meal between 10 and 15 euros. Keep in mind that consumers are not on the lookout for the cheapest fare, they want good value for money.
R: Is it because of this consumer shift from traditional gastronomy to fast food joints that France's chefs have jumped on the bandwagon?
AF: Many great chefs have partnered with the food industry to launch their own fast food or snacking range, sometimes in parallel with their traditional fare. It's an obvious way to adapt to the increasingly “on-the-go” lifestyles of French consumers. Paul Bocuse, Cyril Lignac, Christophe Adam, Alain Cirelli, to name a few, are some of the most prominent chefs who have jumped into that niche.
R: What extra assets do the chefs bring to draw in customers?
AF: Chefs can add their personal touch to the food to prove that it's possible to eat well in a fast food restaurant. They bring refinement to the table, by adapting typical French gastronomy for fast food menus, for instance.
R: Have they come up with any revolutionary inventions?
AF: I don't know if you can call them “revolutionary,” but they have come up with some rather unusual and clever products, such as Alain Cirelli's edible food container and Eric Kaiser's idea to put soup in an edible bowl made of bread and to put stewed fruit in a brioche.
R: Are there any other concepts that could soon take off in France, but that don't stem from the chefs themselves?
AF: Coming straight from the States, food trucks are starting to get a toehold on the French market. There's a reason for the slow start: in French cities, you need official authorisation to set up shop in a vehicle that serves food inspired by American fare. Some say chefs could join in, and Thierry Marx's name comes up if you listen to the rumour mill.
R: To sum up, does this mean that everyone involved in French gastronomy can adapt to the “fast good” trend?
AF: Is it possible to create miniature-sized versions of all the products and specialties from the French terroir regions? The box format opened up a whole new realm of possibilities ... Even the millefeuille, which is notoriously hard to eat while walking, got its on-the-go version, courtesy of Christophe Adam, with a spoon that's actually part of the cup.
http://www.rapidrestoshow.com. — AFP-Relaxnews