Friday morning in the Fontana Lounge @ Bellagio Hotel assembled a gathering of world-class recognized French chefs all with restaurants in strip hotels. Where was Joel Robuchon in this mix? After last night's fabulous Theatre at L'Atelier, did Chef Joel want to give Alain Ducasse a turn on stage? JR was the missing link that morning.
Moderator was Bon Appetit Editor, B. Fairchild. A sampling of appetizers were served compliments of David Werly @ Le Cirque.
Discussion of who arrived first in Vegas and why. In mid 90'sVegas now becoming a world class tourist landing it made sense educated travelers were accustomed to and knew authentic French food. The customer $$$ was here, a designer room built, celeb chef & cuisine followed. "Build a field (kitchen) and they shall come".
A "friendly" banter of which chef arrived first in LasVegas with no definite answer. " I was here first"," "no I was here first"! My comment: Jean-Louis Palladin was the first nationally recognized French chef to open in Las Vegas with Napa @ The Rio Hotel in 1997. He served a multi-course tasting menu, however sadly passed away in 2001.
Has style and heaviness of classic French cuisine changed? All chefs agreed that the foundation (rules) of classical French cuisine hasn't changed. A lighter interpretation using local fresh and organic ingredients replaces rich, heavy sauces served 20+ years ago. Butter and fat are still a necessity, no substitute, eaten in moderate portions.
They said American chefs (unless trained in French theory) have a questionable culinary foundation. What is American Cuisine? The Hot Dog, The Hamburger, Fast Food? Daniel Boulud said "Fusion Cuisine is "confusion", makes no sense, too many mixed up flavors, very confusing". Lots of ego in the room. A very nice morning with reining kings of French cuisine, minus Chef Robuchon.