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LETTER : Being fair to British fare

From Mr Drew Smith

Sir: Emily Green is a bit hard on the idea of Modern British Cooking (Magazine: "Sugar plum", 12 August) . This was never a marketing gimmick, rather it was a term coined to recognise a genuine change in the cooking.

Even in 1986, much of what passed as British cooking still amounted to meat with fruit puree or washing the frying pan out with a carton of cream and calling it a sauce. The criteria I laid down then in the Good Food Guide - notably the move to the use of more vegetables, using the produce according to season, the introduction of wider spices, the respect for individual flavours, etc - still hold good for recent restaurant openings, as witness any number of lauded examples, from St John to the Brackenbury to Kartouche to Josh Hamilton's new regime at the Ebury Wine Bar. Of course, any movement can have its bad examples but usually, in my view, this is where the kitchen has not allowed the quality of the ingredients to lead the menu.

Nine years after the term nouvelle cuisine was coined by Henri Gault and Christian Millau to launch their French guide, the movement was largely disowned by its so-called leaders and was hostage to hotels looking to cut back on the big brigades needed for classical cusine. Today it is virtually extinct.

By comparison, Modern British Cooking has fared pretty well and the restaurants that have adopted its principles are, for the most part, full.

Yours faithfully,

Drew Smith

The Food Factor

Foxley, Wiltshire