Pass­ing of an emi­nent food critic and nou­velle cui­sine ad­vo­cate

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­tar.com.my

THE French food critic Chris­tian Mil­lau, who whet­ted the world's ap­petite for nou­velle cui­sine, has died aged 88, his friends said on Mon­day.

The jour­nal­ist, who launched the famed Gault and Mil­lau guide in 1969 with his late col­league Henri Gault, helped gal­vanise the move­ment of young French chefs de­vel­op­ing lighter, more in­ven­tive and beau­ti­ful look­ing dishes that al­tered restau­rant menus for­ever.

The guide's di­rec­tor Come de Cherisey told AFP that Mil­lau helped change food cul­ture across the world and cham­pi­oned chefs now seen as some of the world's best.

“He rev­o­lu­tionised the world of gas­tron­omy by sup­port­ing chefs he dis­cov­ered like Joel Robu­chon and Michel Guer­ard. He was also close to Paul Bo­cuse and helped (of­fi­cially) launch nou­velle cui­sine in 1973,” he added.

The nou­velle cui­sine – or “new cook­ing” – move­ment was a re­ac­tion to the sup­posed fussy com­pli­ca­tions and rich sauces of clas­sic French cui­sine, which re­lied heav­ily on but­ter and cream.

In­stead its sup­port­ers, led by Mil­lau and Gault – who coined the term – ad­vo­cated lighter meals and shorter more health-con­scious menus.

Be­tween them they drew up the “10 com­mand­ments” of nou­velle cui­sine by pulling to­gether the styles of the young chefs like Bo­cuse, Robu­chon and Alain Sen­derens they ad­mired.

Fa­ther of celebrity chefs

They urged chefs to be more in­ven­tive both vis­ually and in the in­gre­di­ents they used, in­sist­ing on fresh­ness and light­ness. “These new nou­velle cui­sine com­mand­ments were a big bang at the time,” Cherisey in­sisted. “Ev­ery­thing then was very tra­di­tional – sauces were heavy and meats gamey – and there was not the same em­pha­sis on the artistry of the chefs.”

Mil­lau is also cred­ited with get­ting chefs out of their kitchens to help ex­plain their food – a process which led to the celebrity chefs who now make mil­lions from book Mil­lau, who built a renowned French restau­rant guide with col­league Gault and was among the orig­i­na­tors of the nou­velle cui­sine food move­ment in the 1970s, died in Paris over the week­end at 88. — AFP

sales and tele­vi­sion shows.

“Gault and Mil­lau re­ally brought the hu­man an­gle to restau­rant guides for the first time,” said Marc Es­querre, the guide's present edi­tor.

“They were an in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween the pub­lic and cooks and they brought these two worlds to­gether,” he added.

Gilles Pud­lowski, of the rival French Pudlo guide, was among the first to pay tribute to Mil­lau who died at his Paris home on Satur­day.

“Chris­tian Mil­lau is not dead, he is eter­nal. Dear Chris­tian, what would I be with­out you?”

Bo­cuse said Gault first used the term nou­velle cui­sine to de­scribe food that he and other young chefs had pre­pared for the maiden flight of the An­glo-French su­per­sonic air­liner Con­corde in 1969.

The same year Gault and Mil­lau be­gan A Dec 5, 1977 file photo show­ing Mil­lau (right), and Gault tast­ing and hold­ing their book in a Parisian restau­rant on the oc­ca­sion of the pre­sen­ta­tion of their new Gault and Mil­lau restau­rant guide. — AP

pub­lish­ing their quirky and un­stuffy re­views of French restau­rants in a monthly mag­a­zine which soon be­came an an­nual guide.

“Mil­lau's was very much the writer” of the two and it was his style which gave the guide its per­son­al­ity, Es­querre said.

The Gault and Mil­lau guide is now seen as sec­ond only in in­flu­ence to the Miche­lin, and is pub­lished in 12 coun­tries. — AFP THE lat­est Kuala Lumpur restau­rant to trans­port din­ers 40 sto­ries up­wards is El­e­ment Kuala Lumpur’s Trace, its all-day din­ing hub with a view of KL’s fa­bled sky­line.

Its name is a nod to the restau­rant’s phi­los­o­phy – trans­parency in terms of prove­nance and plat­ing. At the same time, in keep­ing with El­e­ment’s own eco-friendly ap­proach, the restau­rant seeks to cut down on food wastage by fo­cus­ing on an ala carte menu – small, fo­cused buf­fet is avail­able only for breakfast.

The ala carte menu fea­tures lo­cal pro­duce where pos­si­ble, in a bid to di­min­ish the restau­rant’s car­bon foot­print; hope­fully, as it grows, it will have even more sig­nif­i­cant lo­ca­vore lean­ings.

In­ter­pre­ta­tions of lo­cal favourites and western dishes with a Malaysian touch fea­ture on the menu, in a sort of cul­tural ex­change pro­gramme – a lit­tle of yours, a lit­tle of mine. Most were for­mu­lated with well­ness rather than calo­rie-count­ing in mind – so imag­ine lots of veg­eta­bles, and nasi lemak where the rice is steamed with co­conut oil rather than co­conut cream, for light­ness.

Breakfast items are geared to­wards whole­some­ness, and the house-made gra­nola (RM20) doesn’t dis­ap­point, hav­ing just the right bal­ance of sweet­ness, with tangy yo­ghurt, fruit com­pote and berries to add va­ri­ety. The sharp crunch of chia seeds and toasti­ness of hazel­nuts el­e­vates it too.

The sim­plic­ity, com­fort­ing tex­ture and rich flavours of the Beans & Toast Supreme (RM22) made it easy to like. Es­sen­tially ka­cang pool – it­self de­rived from the Mid­dle Eastern foul medames – it’s a richly-spiced con­coc­tion of ten­der, stewed beans and minced beef, with green chill­ies and co­rian­der leaves, and a runny fried egg lan­guish­ing in the mid­dle. Thick slices of whole­wheat toast for dip­ping com­plete the of­fer­ing.

Nasi Lemak Ke­lapa Dara (RM38) sees the fluffy rice steamed with ex­tra vir­gin co­conut oil, then served with crispy ikan bilis and peanuts, omelette and Ja­panese cu­cum­ber. Some­what lush ac­com­pa­ni­ments of sam­bal-

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