Gault & Millau
Crédit Photo : Gault & Millau

Gault&Millau, the 10 commandments of the new cuisine

Do you know the story of “Gault&Millau”? I took a close look at it and discovered some very instructive information and treasures to explore from a different perspective.

A bit of history  (extracts from the Gault&Millau website)

“Gault&Millau” is a French gastronomic guide founded in 1972 by Henri Gault and Christian Millau, two French journalists and columnists who have become food critics.

Henri Gault was a major Reporter and Christian Millau was Editor-in-Chief of a weekly column entitled “Week-end et promenades”. They began to explore the Paris areas to find tips and the best addresses. Every Friday, they shared their favourites with intrigued readers. But it was the discovery of restaurants that interested the public the most, eager to think outside the box. The success was immediate, responding to the expectations of readers with new values: consumption habits and lifestyles had evolved and the trend was towards the birth of another consumer society.

Gault&Millau launched a new culinary movement which marked a new trend in post-war thinking. This is how the “new cuisine” was born. An innovative concept that they will widely publicise in their pages and develop its success.

The impertinence and independence of Gault&Millau (extracts from the Gault & Millau website )

Gault did not hesitate to say that this or that well-known restaurant was “infamous” and that Tante Ursule’s navarin was delicious. The Friday columns upset the French gastronomic tradition somewhat. An independence and impertinence that appealed to the readers. The success then continued to grow both for the restaurants and the Friday column. All it took was for Gault to find a new table and the restaurant would be full the next day.

Determined to do away with the ultra-bourgeois and anachronistic image of French gastronomy, Gault and Millau prospected the whole of France in search of novelties.

The new cuisine (extracts from Wikipedia)

“New cuisine” has therefore developed among cooks trained by the Top Chefs of Haute cuisine, who turned away from traditions to practice their art in a different way, who want to modernise cooking and meet the new aspirations of consumers. New cuisine has played a role in defining a “new gastronomy” and has influenced the cuisine of bourgeois houses and haute cuisine around the world.

The criteria of the new cuisine revolve mainly around the enhancement of the product, the importance of correct cooking, seasoning and the elimination of unnecessary sauces. The boundaries of new gastronomy are defined: simple but always refined. The other essential criteria will be the taste, presentation and imagination of the Chef.  

These characteristics are thus gathered around 10 commandments illustrating the line of conduct of all the Chefs who wanted to be part of the modern values of the cuisine.

The 10 commandments of the new cuisine (extracts from Wikipedia)

  • “Thou shalt not overcook.”
  • “Thou shalt use fresh, quality produce.”
  • “Thou shalt lighten thy menu.”
  • “Thou shalt not be systematically modernist.”
  • “Thou shalt, however, seek out what the new techniques bring.”
  • “Thou shalt avoid marinades, pheasants, fermentations, etc.”
  • “Thou shalt eliminate the rich sauces.”
  • “Thou shalt not ignore dietetics.”
  • “Thou shalt not fake your presentations.”
  • “Thou shalt be inventive.”

What if Gault&Millau had been vegan?

By taking an interest at “Gault&Millau” and taking a closer look, I realise how relevant its criteria still are today. All the ingredients are there.

I see it as a great opportunity to renew our culinary tradition while keeping the basics. When I see what Gault&Millau did in their time, I tell myself that if they had been vegan, they would probably have had no difficulty in revolutionising the world of gastronomy. They have been very successful in turning the tide by offering a new way of thinking. Because the need for renewal was there, and because the Chefs had decided to question themselves, everyone was finally able to adapt favourably to the new wave.

And now I ask myself this question: Why could we not use these 10 commandments to create a new era in gastronomy?

The impertinence and independence shown by Gault&Millau can be found today at the heart of social networks. Bloggers, journalists and all of us have free speech. We have our say and sometimes we make the rules. It would seem even easier today to change things. However, something is missing.

What if it was just an 11th commandment? If Gault&Millau had been vegan, they would probably have added this 11th commandment, which might have been enough to reverse the trend.

11 – “Thou shalt eliminate animal flesh from thy dishes, because thou shalt respect nature”.

Gault&Millau have shown us the way, in their way of supporting Chefs and the general public towards a different style of gastronomy, but also in their way of approaching a new era, by renewing themselves and proposing innovative things.

The commandments of the new cuisine should be reconsidered today, to integrate new notions linked to the evolution of our society. Because it is not a question of standing still but rather of bringing to the general public new things that help to change their look on the world.

In this era of food transformation that is ours, with the desire for a different consumer society, “Gault&Millau” remains more than ever the keystone. It is up to us to be bold enough and to open the right door to move towards a different gastronomy that is respectful of everything.

Translated by Malvika Kathpal

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