French chef Gomez at the Elysee Palace recently announced his resignation as the head chef of the Presidential Palace. From now on, he will assume the task of promoting French cuisine as the personal representative of President Macron. In France, where there is a cult of chefs, the 42-year-old Gomez is a household name. Although he participated in the preparation of more than 2 million dishes, he said that preparing a state banquet was the biggest challenge in his work.
The choice of dishes is influenced by the president’s personal preferences
The state banquet is considered a diplomatic method. In this diplomatic banquet attended by the heads of state and government, the delicious delicacies that make people’s mouths can quickly communicate feelings and create a friendly atmosphere. Since it was officially designated as the French Presidential Palace in 1879, the Elysee Palace has been equipped with a team of top chefs in France. In the past 100 years, although the amount of dishes at the French State Banquet has been gradually decreasing, the exquisite use of ingredients and the exquisite dishes are still impressive.
The French state banquet is generally held in the festival hall of the Elysee Palace. The president and first lady will greet visiting foreign leaders and their wives at the entrance of the hall. In the welcome song performed by the French Republican Guard Orchestra, invited guests stepped in on the red carpet. In the magnificent hall, the giant crystal chandelier is luxurious. The host and the guest usually drink a glass of champagne as an aperitif, and then wait for the dinner to officially begin.
Traditionally, the state banquet menu is recommended by the presidential chef and concierge, and finally decided by the president or his wife. Therefore, the choice of French state banquet dishes is affected to a certain extent by the president’s personal preferences. For example, the former French President Destin likes light-tasting dishes; while Chirac likes pickling pork with cabbage; Sarkozy, who likes “quick things”, revokes the cheese after the main course; and this dish is loved by all food Hollande recovers; Macron prefers the traditional French dish of veal stew in white sauce, as well as seafood and truffles.
The French state banquet dishes design will also fully consider the eating habits of the guests. Starting from the Fourth Republic, the Elysee Palace has a tradition of recording menus when VIPs visit. Now, the banquet menu for the VIP guests is stored in the computer to ensure that the same guest will not eat the same dish repeatedly. Every guest will see a menu on the table after seated. The cover of the menu is usually a well-known French painting. The ingenious design not only makes people pleasing to the eye, but also allows guests to feel the rich cultural heritage of France.
A state banquet highlights special ingredients from all over the world
Before the First World War, the French state banquet had 13 to 14 dishes, and after the war it was reduced to 6 to 7 dishes. Nowadays, French state banquets generally consist of appetizers, main dishes, seasonal vegetable salads, cheese and desserts. After General de Gaulle took office, he decided to reduce the length of the state banquet to 1 hour and 40 minutes and reduce the number of dishes to 5. He also rearranged the seats in the banquet hall to form a “U-shape” with the seat of the head of state as the base. This “formation” allows 200 guests to gather together and have a pleasant exchange while enjoying the food.
As a representative dish of French cuisine, baked snails often appear at French state banquets as an appetizer. In addition, Paris steak fried potato shreds, beef brisket with olive sauce, etc. are also classic dishes at French state banquets.
In the process of development and evolution, the dishes of the French state banquet gradually no longer pay attention to luxury and preciousness, but more emphasis on highlighting the characteristic flavor of France. In addition, the French state banquet ingredients emphasize the freshness of the season, and they should be famous and high-quality products from all over the world. After a state banquet, the specialty ingredients of several regions of France were “caught in one go.” In 2014, when French President Hollande hosted a banquet for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of England, he chose foie gras from Gers with noble rot wine and truffle jelly as the starter, and the main course was the southeastern city of Tin. Strom’s lamb meat is paired with seasonal seasonal vegetables, as well as classic cheese platter from different regions, and finally “summer charm” (melaleuca dessert made with fruits, etc.) as a dessert finish. This menu is based on the French father George V who received the Queen of England in 1914. There is also a classical concert before the dinner.
Follow the dining etiquette in the 19th century
As usual, the dinner officially started after the president delivered a speech. When the French president delivered his speech, the back kitchen of the Elysee Palace was also busy in order to ensure that the appetizers could be served within 30 seconds after the president took his seat. The service staff in black suits and white bow ties held up the dinner plates, and shuttled in the banquet hall to serve dishes or pour wine in an orderly manner. When serving hot dishes, the Elysee Palace strictly follows the dining etiquette of the 19th century. The waiters serve the dishes and the guests pick them up in order.
French gastronomy was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010, and the cuisine at the state banquet has therefore become a cultural label and topic of discussion. The French state banquet is not only a banquet to entertain guests, but also an important way to showcase French cuisine and promote the art of life that the French are proud of. It is for this reason that it is difficult for people who have eaten state banquets to answer the question “Is it delicious”, and are more inclined to say “I am very happy” or “I am unforgettable.”