Nouvelle cuisine

Nouvelle cuisine (French, "new cuisine") is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine. In contrast to cuisine classique, an older form of haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine is characterized by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the food critics Henri Gault, who invented the phrase, and his colleagues André Gayot and Christian Millau in a new restaurant guide, the Gault-Millau, or Le Nouveau Guide.

Jacques Lameloise, escabèche d'écrevisses sur gaspacho d'asperge et cresson
An example of nouvelle cuisine presentation


Menon, La nouvelle cuisine, 1742 -- cover page
Menon, La nouvelle cuisine (1742)

The term "nouvelle cuisine" has been used several times in the history of French cuisine, to mark a clean break with the past.

In the 1730s and 1740s, several French writers emphasized their break with tradition, calling their cooking "modern" or "new". Vincent La Chapelle published his Cuisinier moderne in 1733–1735. The first volumes of Menon's Nouveau traité de la cuisine came out in 1739. And it was in 1742 that Menon introduced the term nouvelle cuisine as the title of the third volume of his Nouveau traité.[1] François Marin worked in the same tradition.

In the 1880s and 1890s, the cooking of Georges Auguste Escoffier was sometimes described with the term.[2]

Jacques Lameloise DSCF6580
A Jacques Lameloise (a three-star Michelin Guide chef) nouvelle cuisine presentation

The modern usage is variously attributed to authors Henri Gault, Christian Millau, and André Gayot,[3][4] who used nouvelle cuisine to describe the cooking of Paul Bocuse,[5] Alain Chapel, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, Michel Guérard, Roger Vergé, and Raymond Oliver, many of whom were once students of Fernand Point.[6] Paul Bocuse claimed that Gault first used the term to describe food prepared by Bocuse and other top chefs for the maiden flight of the Concorde airliner in 1969.[7]

The style Gault and Millau wrote about was a reaction to the French cuisine classique placed into "orthodoxy" by Escoffier. Calling for greater simplicity and elegance in creating dishes, nouvelle cuisine is not cuisine minceur ("thin cooking"), which was created by Michel Guérard as spa food. It has been speculated that the outbreak of World War II was a significant contributor to nouvelle cuisine's creation—the short supply of animal protein during the German occupation made it a natural development.[8]

The "formula"

Scallop - tangerine-gastrique
Scallop tangerine gastrique

Gault and Millau "discovered the formula" contained in ten characteristics of this new style of cooking. The ten characteristics identified were:[9]

  • A rejection of excessive complication in cooking.
  • Cooking times for most fish, seafood, game birds, veal, green vegetables and pâtés were greatly reduced in an attempt to preserve the natural flavours. Steaming was an important trend from this characteristic.
  • The cuisine was made with the freshest possible ingredients.
  • Large menus were abandoned in favour of shorter menus.
  • Strong marinades for meat and game ceased to be used.
  • Heavy sauces such as espagnole and béchamel were replaced by seasonings with fresh herbs, high-quality butter, lemon juice, and vinegar.
  • Regional dishes replaced as inspiration instead of cuisine classique
  • New techniques were embraced and modern equipment was often used; Bocuse even used microwave ovens.
  • The chefs paid close attention to the dietary needs of their guests through their dishes.
  • The chefs were extremely inventive and created new combinations and pairings.[6]


There is a standing debate as to whether nouvelle cuisine has been abandoned. Much of what it stood for—particularly its preference for lightly presented, fresh flavours—has been assimilated into mainstream restaurant cooking. By the mid-1980s, some food writers stated that the style of cuisine had reached exhaustion and many chefs began returning to the cuisine classique style of cooking, although much of the lighter presentations and new techniques remained.[6]



  1. ^ Philip Hyman and Mary Hyman, "Printing the Kitchen: French Cookbooks, 1480–1800", in Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari, eds., Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, 1999, ISBN 0231111541 (translation of Histoire de l'alimentation, 1996), p. 398
  2. ^ Mennell, p. 163
  3. ^ André Gayot, "Of Stars and Tripes: The True Story of Nouvelle Cuisine"
  4. ^ "Stormy weather for Bahama Billy's". Monterey County Herald. January 10, 2008.
  5. ^ "Paul Bocuse, Celebrated French Chef, Dies at 91". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Mennell, 163–164.
  7. ^ France on a Plate BBC Four TV programme 1 December 2008
  8. ^ Hewitt, 109–110.
  9. ^ Gault&Millau, history of the company, see paragraph "Les 10 commandements de la nouvelle cuisine"


  • Hewitt, Nicholas. The Cambridge Companion to Modern French Culture. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-521-79465-7
  • Mennel, Stephan. All Manners of Food: eating and taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the present. 2nd ed., Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-252-06490-6
  • Patrick Rambourg, Histoire de la cuisine et de la gastronomie françaises, Paris, Ed. Perrin (coll. tempus n° 359), 2010, 381 pages. ISBN 978-2-262-03318-7

Further reading

  • The Nouvelle Cuisine Cookbook: The Complete International Guide to the World of Nouvelle Cuisine by Armand Aulicino. (1976) ISBN 0-448-14418-2
  • The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean and Pierre Troisgros by Jean and Pierre Troisgros. (1977) ISBN 0-688-03331-8.
Alain Chapel

Alain Chapel (30 December 1937 – 10 July 1990) was a French Michelin 3 starred chef, credited with being one of the originators of Nouvelle Cuisine.

Alain Senderens

Alain Senderens (2 December 1939 – 25 June 2017) was a leading French chef and practitioner of Nouvelle Cuisine. Le Figaro credited him as the inventor of food and wine pairings.


A bouchon is a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France, that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. Compared to other forms of French cooking such as nouvelle cuisine, the dishes are quite fatty and heavily oriented around meat. There are approximately twenty officially certified traditional bouchons, but a larger number of establishments describe themselves using the term.

Typically, the emphasis in a bouchon is not on haute cuisine but, rather, a convivial atmosphere and a personal relationship with the owner.

Claude Troisgros

Claude Troisgros is a French chef who lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the son of the famous chef Pierre Troisgros, who with his brother Jean were among a group of French chefs who pioneered nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s, influenced by Fernand Point.

Claude Troisgros runs four restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, Olympe and 66 Bistrô, CT Brasserie and CT Boucherie. In the USA, he was part-owner of the restaurant Caviar & Banana in New York City, and he is Executive Chef/Consultant at Blue Door Restaurant at the Delano Hotel in Miami. 66 Bistrô was recently closed in order to open another CT Boucherie location.

Troisgros is a celebrity chef in Brazil, where he presents his own TV show Que Marravilha! on the GNT cable channel. The TV show has a magazine format, with recipes, reality show features, and travelogue pieces.

Cuisine minceur

Cuisine minceur (literally 'slimming cooking') is a style of cooking created by French chef Michel Guérard, which recreated lighter versions of traditional nouvelle cuisine dishes. Critics acknowledged that the minceur versions by Guérard tasted better and were less filling than their nouvelle cuisine originals.

De Kersentuin

Restaurant De Kersentuin is a restaurant in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. It was a fine dining restaurant that was awarded one Michelin star in 1985 and retained that rating until 1992.Gault Millau awarded the restaurant 13 out of 20 points.The restaurant was famous not only because of the Michelin star, but also because it belonged to the front runners of the nouvelle cuisine. In 2003, Sistersmans admitted that he and Joop Braakhekke did not understand the real nouvelle cuisine.The present head chef is Michel van Dijk. Former head chefs are: Jon Sistermans (1980-1994), Rudolf Bos (1994-1997), Guus Vredenburg (1997-2000), Michel van der Kroft (2000-2006) and Marcel de Leeuw (2006-2011)Joop Braakhekke (1980-1993) came to fame in De Kersentuin, but was not the head chef. He acted as restaurant-manager and Maître d'hôtel, until fired in 1993.Restaurant De Kersentuin is housed in the Garden Hotel, formerly part of the Dikker & Thijs Group and now part of the Bilderberg Group.In 2004, the whole Queens Moat Houses, parent company of the Bilderberg Group, was sold to "Whitehall", part of Goldman Sachs.

European cuisine

European cuisine, or alternatively western cuisine, is a generalised term collectively referring to the cuisines of Europe and other Western countries, including (depending on the definition) that of Russia, as well as non-indigenous cuisines of Australasia, the Americas, Southern Africa, and Oceania, which derive substantial influence from European settlers in those regions. The term is used by East Asians to contrast with Asian styles of cooking. (This is analogous to Westerners' referring collectively to the cuisines of East Asian countries as Asian cuisine.) When used by Westerners, the term may sometimes refer more specifically to cuisine in Europe; in this context, a synonym is Continental cuisine, especially in British English.

The cuisines of Western countries are diverse by themselves, although there are common characteristics that distinguish Western cooking from cuisines of Asian countries and others. Compared with traditional cooking of Asian countries, for example, meat is more prominent and substantial in serving-size. Steak and cutlet in particular are common dishes across the West. Western cuisines also put substantial emphasis on grape wine and on sauces as condiments, seasonings, or accompaniments (in part due to the difficulty of seasonings penetrating the often larger pieces of meat used in Western cooking). Many dairy products are utilised in the cooking process, except in nouvelle cuisine. Cheeses are produced in hundreds of different varieties, and fermented milk products are also available in a wide selection. Wheat-flour bread has long been the most common source of starch in this cuisine, along with pasta, dumplings and pastries, although the potato has become a major starch plant in the diet of Europeans and their diaspora since the European colonisation of the Americas, particularly in Northern Europe. Maize is much less common in most European diets than it is in the Americas; however corn meal (polenta or mămăligă), is a major part of the cuisine of Italy and the Balkans. Although flatbreads (especially with toppings such as pizza or tarte flambée), and rice are eaten in Europe, they do not constitute an ever-present staple. Salads (cold dishes with uncooked or cooked vegetables with sauce) are an integral part of European cuisine.

Formal European dinners are served in distinct courses. European presentation evolved from service à la française, or bringing multiple dishes to the table at once, into service à la russe, where dishes are presented sequentially. Usually, cold, hot and savoury, and sweet dishes are served strictly separately in this order, as hors d'oeuvre (appetizer) or soup, as entrée and main course, and as dessert. Dishes that are both sweet and savoury were common earlier in ancient Roman cuisine, but are today uncommon, with sweet dishes being served only as dessert. A service where the guests are free to take food by themselves is termed a buffet, and is usually restricted to parties or holidays. Nevertheless, guests are expected to follow the same pattern.

Historically, European cuisine has been developed in the European royal and noble courts. European nobility was usually arms-bearing and lived in separate manors in the countryside. The knife was the primary eating implement (cutlery), and eating steaks and other foods that require cutting followed. In contrast in the Sinosphere, the ruling class were the court officials, who had their food cut ready to eat in the kitchen, to be eaten with chopsticks. The knife was supplanted by the spoon for soups, while the fork was introduced later in the early modern period, ca. 16th century. Today, most dishes are intended to be eaten with cutlery and only a few finger foods can be eaten with the hands in polite company.

Food presentation

Food presentation is the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.

The visual presentation of foods is often considered by chefs at many different stages of food preparation, from the manner of tying or sewing meats, to the type of cut used in chopping and slicing meats or vegetables, to the style of mold used in a poured dish. The food itself may be decorated as in elaborately iced cakes, topped with ornamental sometimes sculptural consumables, drizzled with sauces, sprinkled with seeds, powders, or other toppings, or it may be accompanied by edible or inedible garnishes.

Historically, the presentation of food has been used as a show of wealth and power. Such displays often emphasize the complexity of a dish's composition as opposed to its flavors. For instance, ancient sources recall the hosts of Roman banquets adding precious metals and minerals to food in order to enhance its aesthetic appeal. Additionally, Medieval aristocrats hosted feasts involving sculptural dishes and shows of live animals. These banquets existed to show the culture and affluence of its host, and were therefore tied to social class. Contemporary food aesthetics reflect the autonomy of the chef, such as in nouvelle cuisine and Japanese bento boxes. Dishes often involve both simplistic and complex designs. Some schools of thought, like French nouvelle cuisine, emphasize minimalism while others create complicated compositions based on modern aesthetic principles. Overall, the presentation of food reflects societal trends and beliefs.

Gault Millau

Gault et Millau [ɡo e mijo] is a French restaurant guide. It was founded by two restaurant critics, Henri Gault and Christian Millau in 1965.

George M. Taber

George McCaffrey Taber (born May 25, 1942) is a journalist and entrepreneur.

Taber was a reporter and editor with Time magazine in the United States and Europe for 21 years, working in Brussels, Bonn, Houston, Washington, DC, and New York. Stationed in Paris between 1973 and 1976, he reported extensively on French wine and cooking, including a Time cover story on chef Michel Guérard and his nouvelle cuisine.

It was during that period that he reported on the Judgment of Paris where California wines were ranked alongside France's best, an event that revolutionized the world of wine. His four-paragraph story about the tasting has been called "the most significant news story ever written about wine". In 2005, Taber wrote a book on the event, with the goal of "setting the record straight."In 2012, Taber organized a blind tasting on behalf of the American Association of Wine Economists similar to the 1976 Judgment of Paris event between wines produced in France and several produced in New Jersey. This event at the Association's conference in Princeton has been called the Judgment of Princeton.

Taber began his own business newspaper in 1988 and interviewed and wrote about the presidents of both the United States and France.

Haute cuisine

Haute cuisine (French: literally "high cooking", pronounced [ot kɥi.zin]) or grande cuisine refers to the cuisine of "high-level" establishments, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. Haute cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation and careful presentation of food, at a high price level.

Henri Gault

Henri Gault (Pacy-sur-Eure, 4 November 1929 - 9 July 2000) was a French food journalist. He was co-founder of the Gault Millau guides with Christian Millau, and invented the phrase "nouvelle cuisine", though later he claimed to regret it.

Jérôme Bocuse

Jérôme Bocuse is a French chef. He is the son of the Nouvelle Cuisine pioneer Paul Bocuse (1926 - 2018).


Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals and is analogous to Western haute cuisine.There are two kinds of traditional Japanese meal styles called kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri. The first, where kaiseki is written as 会席 and kaiseki-ryōri as 会席料理, refers to a set menu of select food served on an individual tray (to each member of a gathering). The second, written as 懐石 and as 懐石料理, refers to the simple meal that the host of a chanoyu gathering serves to the guests before a ceremonial tea, and is also known as cha-kaiseki (茶懐石). Nouvelle cuisine may have been inspired by kaiseki principles.

Michel Guérard

Michel Guérard (born 27 March 1933 in Vétheuil, Val-d'Oise) is a French chef, author, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine, and the inventor of cuisine minceur.

Paul Bocuse

Paul Bocuse (pronounced [pɔl bokyz]; 11 February 1926 – 20 January 2018) was a French chef based in Lyon who was known for the high quality of his restaurants and his innovative approaches to cuisine.

A student of Eugénie Brazier, he was one of the most prominent chefs associated with the nouvelle cuisine, which is less opulent and calorific than the traditional cuisine classique, and stresses the importance of fresh ingredients of the highest quality. Paul Bocuse claimed that Henri Gault first used the term, nouvelle cuisine, to describe food prepared by Bocuse and other top chefs for the maiden flight of the Concorde airliner in 1969.

Restaurant André

Restaurant André was a fine-dining restaurant in Singapore that served French Nouvelle cuisine. The restaurant was opened on 10 October 2010 by André Chiang, who also served as the head chef.

Sauce vierge

Sauce vierge (French; in English: literally, "virgin sauce") is a French sauce made from olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and chopped basil.

Frequently, crushed coriander seed is added, and variations may include the addition of other herbs such as chervil, chives, parsley, etc. The ingredients are combined and allowed to infuse or macerate (depending whether heat is applied or not) in the oil to create the sauce.

The sauce is usually served with shellfish, delicately flavoured white-fleshed fish such as cod, sole, etc.; it is sometimes served over pasta.

The sauce was popularised in the 1980s by Michel Guérard, a French chef, author, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine, and the inventor of cuisine minceur, from Eugénie-les-Bains, Aquitaine, in south-western France; the sauce has since become a modern classic.In its original form, the sauce was intended as a Mediterranean preparation and contained a lot of garlic. It was served either hot or cold after infusing the herbs in the oil.

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (album)

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra is a 1968 album by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra recorded over a period of six months with Michael Mantler as composer, leader and producer. Many of the key figures in avant-garde jazz from the time contributed on the album including Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri, Larry Coryell, Roswell Rudd, and Carla Bley. The album's finale features a two-part concerto for Cecil Taylor and orchestra.

Mantler "updated" the album in 2014 as The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Update on ECM Records. It features the Nouvelle Cuisine Big Band, an orchestra with parallel instrumentation conducted by Christoph Cech and new soloists: Michael Mantler (trumpet), Bjarne Roupé (guitar), Wolfgang Puschnig (alto saxophone), Harry Sokal (tenor saxophone), David Helbock (piano), and the radio.string.quartet.vienna.

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