Let’s all be grateful for the current popularity of open kitchens in Paris bistros. They allow us to keep an eye on what the chefs and their assistants are up to, and ensure us that they are not just dropping vacuum-packed meals into boiling water, as apparently happens in – get ready for a shock – 31 percent of French restaurants, according to a study by the Synhorcat restaurant union. In fact, these places do not even need a chef. Think of the money they save by eliminating that job and charging a hefty markup for food you could boil up at home yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Now a move is afoot in the French Parliament to limit the term “restaurant” to places that that cook most of their own food from scratch on the premises rather than using boil-in-a-bag or microwaved meals. Others propose the term “artisanal restaurant” to distinguish the real thing. Meanwhile, the College Culinaire de France has created a “quality restaurant” label for eateries that meet its standards.