In a festive and musical atmosphere, gastronomy lovers and professionals were able to enjoy the many tastings, culinary demonstrations, exhibitor-producer stands and cooking classes.
I went to the Grand Palais to discover this flagship event and to see if plants were in the spotlight.
Plant-based dishes on the menu
Most of the stands offered plant-based options.
At Pierre Sang, from the Maison Pierre Sang Boyer, we could taste a pea, truffle and wasabi velouté.
At Frédéric Anton at the Pré Catelan, two plant-based dishes were available. The first option was peas prepared in cream, hot and cold with spring onions, crispy puffed rice, nutmeg and truffle. A second option was chickpea salad, fine Kalamata olive purée, crunchy fennel and curry.
At Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athénée, Chef Romain Meder proposed a dessert with peanuts from the Hautes-Pyrénées, soy milk fountain.
At Thierry Marx’s Mandarin Oriental, the plant-based dish was composed of heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, Mozzarella di Buffala, vanilla oil.
At Frenchie, Chef Grégory Marchand proposed a green asparagus from Roques Hautes, smoked egg yolk, parmesan sabayon and for dessert a banana banoffee, pecan nuts and milk caramel.
At the Nubé in the Hotel Marignan, I tasted the plant-based option of a signature dish by Chef Juan Arbelaez: a quinoa risotto with coconut milk and sherry, very surprising.
The place of veganism
Unfortunately, plant-based dishes are not yet very present at these events and this is a pity.
Many people do not know the difference between “vegetarian” and “vegan“, let alone what is behind the word “plant-based“. This kind of event would help the general public to understand more clearly and to encourage discussion with the Chefs. However, the Chefs themselves are sometimes still a little confused between these two very similar (and yet so different) diets.
For Chefs who offer plant-based menus, some adapt their dishes more readily than others. On the basis of a vegetarian dish, they build the plant-based version and that is already very good. But they are still hesitating between different ways of doing things: preferring to take an ingredient out of the recipe or add another one instead, innovating completely or staying on the classic bases… they are still searching a bit.
The importance of symbols
On some of the Taste of Paris menus, the V symbol clearly indicated the presence of a vegetarian dish. Many gluten-free dishes were also available and visible thanks to the SG symbol.
However, there were some misleading indications. The V symbol for vegetarian on a red tuna dish did indeed catch my eye!
Between the SG symbol for gluten-free dishes and the V for vegetarian dishes, I can imagine how confused the uninitiated can sometimes be. The understanding and use of these symbols by Chefs and their teams is therefore key.
In my opinion, the VE symbol for plant-based options was especially missing. Having clearly identified plant-based dishes, in addition to vegetarian dishes, would bring more consistency to the menus and understanding to the public.
Also, plant-based desserts are still sorely lacking. I would have liked to see real plant-based pastries offered by those Top Chefs who are so capable of doing so.
A modern and elegant festival
We can only be delighted to see that the world of gastronomy is moving, modernising and evolving in line with customer demand. Taste of Paris is an event unlike any other. The Grand Palais gives it an incredible charm and French elegance. It is a beautiful alliance between culture and gastronomy that gives coherence to the whole event.
I now expect our Chefs to take us off the beaten track. It is also up to us to take advantage of these events to think about our food of tomorrow and to help the Chefs find the right path.