• Click CONTACT US in the footer if you have any problems registering for the forums.

New Rules for the restaurant label "Fait Maison"...

Kevin Widrow

10+ Posts
Following on from a comment in another thread about restaurants in France using frozen and pre-cooked dishes, I saw this report the other night on the news http://www.francetvinfo.fr/label-fait-maison-les-nouvelles-regles_609855.html .

Previously, as long as a chef made some adjustments to the frozen products, they could claim the whole thing was "Fait Maison". Now, this game is up and they can only label dishes "Fait Maison" if they are 100% home made. Additionally, the label will be mentioned dish by dish on the menus. So you'll be able to tell ahead of ordering what is home made and what comes from the local "Picard professionale".

This is a great advancement as far as I am concerned and I really hope restaurants follow the rules and don't cheat, he said perhaps naively.

Anyway, some of the popular (with the internet crowd) restaurants in the area I know for a fact use pre-prepared frozen items. I'll be curious to take a look at their menus once the new rules take effect.

- Kevin
 

jonathan

100+ Posts
I think what you said in the other thread about being suspicious about over-long menus, with predictable items, is spot on - but this new ruling should offer a bit more reassurance (if they do keep to the rules...).
 

Parigi

100+ Posts
I think what you said in the other thread about being suspicious about over-long menus, with predictable items, is spot on
I missed that thread.
Indeed, when I see a big menu offering lots of dishes, the message I get is that the restaurant does not use in-season, market-fresh ingredients.

But many times, visitors complain precisely about this aspect of restaurants having a limited menu offering only a few dishes, when it is a positive sign about a restaurant.

(I hope, oh I hope, that the message will appear with all the paragraph separators intact.)
 

Dana

100+ Posts
It is ironic in a country famed for its cuisine that it's come to this, but it's partly a result of French employment laws that make hiring kitchen staff unaffordable for many small restaurants. And if you do hire someone who doesn't work out and have to fire them, expect a law suit! Hence the reliance on frozen food, to keep costs down and les menus affordable.

Around here the most enduring, successful restaurants are generally family owned and run, and have extremely limited menus (in fact in one of our favourites, there's no choice at all). Maybe others will go that route as well now.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
An article today shows the new symbol to go on menus to mark a dish as homemade (see below). It is a pot with a house roof on top.

Daily Mail Online - France battles against bad restaurant food, by Associated Press, 16 July 2014
"Restaurant-goers in France will start seeing a funny little symbol on their menus this week: a skillet with a house on top, indicating your menu choice is made in-house.

It's part of a new law meant to battle against the surprising amount of factory-made, pre-packaged food in French restaurants, and celebrate the country's culinary traditions.

However, many in the industry say the law doesn't go far enough, because it allows dishes made from frozen, pre-peeled or pre-cut products to count as home-made."

Let's see what our French foodies have to say about this.

 

Dana

100+ Posts
Where we live duck confits and magrets are on every single menu, but very few people preserve the duck from scratch on their own because it's so easy just to open a can of confits or a sous-vide magret and stick them on the grill. It will be interesting to see if they still get to post the little symbol if all they do is heat up the duck, and add some parsley and mushrooms.

I think they could have made a prettier, less angular symbol, too; some French menus are elegant works of art, after all!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
I am not a duck expert, but when we were in the Dordogne last year, I saw small producers selling duck confit. If a restaurant bought from them wouldn't it be similar to buying cheese from a local artisanal producer? We don't expect restaurants to make their cheese from scratch, do we?

I agree, very bad symbol!
 

Chris

500+ Posts
I was thinking the same thing, Pauline. Duck confit is preserved, not something you'd expect to be freshly killed (sorry). I'd like to know if the cassoulet made with the duck, sausages, and beans was made in house, not dumped out of a can, though.
 

Dana

100+ Posts
There certainly are numerous small artisanal producers of duck confits and magrets, stuffed goose necks, gizzards and all that good stuff, but there are also large-scale industrial ones, too, with tins available in all French supermarkets. You can really tell the difference—but in both instances, most of the work is done far from the restaurant kitchen.

My cheffy friends who make their own confits from scratch, buying their duck parts and tubs of fat at the foire de gras ('fat fair'- even after so many years here that makes me smile) would argue that a good restaurant should do no less.

Then there are the ferme auberge restaurants that also raise and slaughter the ducks...they could argue that only they should be able to use the silly new symbol. We shall see—I think they have a couple of months to comply with the new rules.
 

Roz

500+ Posts
Yes, Mark Bittman's article is interesting. From what he says, the label is practically meaningless, since it exempts frozen and vacuum-packed foods. So frozen vegetables are allowed, with the exception of pommes frites (French fries) which do have to be peeled and cooked in-house. "Thus, farm-raised, antibiotic-laced, slave-labor-produced and frozen-and-thawed shrimp from Thailand can be legitimately logo-ized, as long as they’re cooked in-house, as can frozen vegetables from anywhere in the world — again, as long as they’re cooked in the restaurant that’s serving them."

He also says: "... restaurants in the home of la grande cuisine have become much like they are elsewhere. If you want a meal out featuring great ingredients prepared fresh and with skill you can find one, but you have to be very diligent, very lucky or willing to spend big; the vast majority of restaurants disappoint."

I think it is probably easier to be sure of truly homemade authentic cuisine in the villages and countryside, where you have the fermes-auberges and small family-owned restaurants mostly serving a local clientele.
 

Kevin Widrow

10+ Posts
"I think it is probably easier to be sure of truly homemade authentic cuisine in the villages and countryside, where you have the fermes-auberges and small family-owned restaurants mostly serving a local clientele."

Amen to that !!
 

Dana

100+ Posts
Amen indeed.

Also, if you're travelling in France in the summer, keep an eye peeled for signs for marchés gourmands or night markets. A village blocks off traffic and sets up communal tables in the town square or by a lake a river, often once a week in July and August, and often with a band playing live music. Eaters bring in their own plates, glasses and cutlery; local producers bring in the food or prepare it on the spot and you pick and choose what you want from soup to dessert. The kids can run about, and you get authentic local cuisine and a fun evening out for half the price of a restaurant.
 

Sponsors

Booking.com Hotels in Europe
AutoEurope.com Car Rentals

New resources

Top