Home cooking has come off the boil in France, says Ducasse

Chef believes working women are failing to pass on their skills to daughters

The French are losing the art of home cooking which underpins their reputation for gastronomic excellence, according to one of the country's most celebrated chefs.

Alain Ducasse, who has a global restaurant empire, says mothers are no longer passing on their skill with a frying pan to their daughters, relegating cooking from a daily practice to a "hobby at the weekend".

In an interview with The Independent, Ducasse attributed the trend to rising numbers of working women. "Unfortunately in France the women don't really have the time to cook, and we are going towards this trend of less and less home-cooking," he said. "It's globalisation, it's not good news. The Italians have kept this tradition – 'la mamma' cooks for the family home."

Ducasse's restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel in London received a third Michelin star this month, taking his global tally to 19. As the chef with the second-highest haul of stars in the world, his views carry weight in the country of his birth, even though he now lives in Monaco. A French film crew was following Ducasse's every move in London last week.

Asked whether France was losing its reputation for home-cooking, he replied without a pause: "Yes, on a daily basis, we are losing it and that's really bad. There's a real trend of home-cooking with family and friends, but at the weekend. A hobby at the weekend, but not on a daily basis.

"We opened a cookery school last May ... women come and learn the basics, then they go home and cook. Twenty-five years ago the cookery school wouldn't have been a success, because the tradition of the mother transmitting the skills to the daughter would have been there, but our generation doesn't have that at all. Ten years ago, women started working a lot."

Long lunches involving several courses and wine was also on the wane, he lamented. "Business lunches or when you go with a girlfriend [are long], but, definitely, it's going. It's just the evolution of society. In our non-fine-dining restaurants in Paris, we have adapted the prices and people are starting to come back to get some very good bistro cuisine. It's the same trend in London – only attractive menus and prices get people back."

Despite his concern about home kitchens, the 53-year-old was optimistic about the quality of French restaurants, saying only Tokyo's were superior. He rated London's "diverse" restaurants as the third best in the world.

He also lauded Gordon Ramsay: "I'm not going to join all the people criticising him, because Great Britain is really lucky to have such a young and popular chef to spread the word." However, he said he thought Ramsay's restaurant in Versailles was doomed because it had the "wrong address".

Ducasse took some flak himself when he opened in Britain in November 2007. Critics slated the décor – and the price: £250 for dinner for two. Although he refused to change either, he refined the food, making it less classical. "Our cuisine is [now] more contemporary, more international, more modern, while keeping our French DNA."

The gastro-pub was keeping alive a tradition of popular cooking, he said. He also revealed a taste for a delicacy popular at football grounds. "I love traditional English pies. If it's prepared with passion and heart, it must be good. I don't always enjoy a big five-course meal. I would rather have a chicken pie or a steak.

"The dining experience is so linked to the moment – you can have an amazing experience with a steak with friends, and a disappointing experience having a five-course meal," he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Foundation Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?