For followers of the French food scene, The Daily Meal has the inside scoop on France’s upcoming culinary crazes from panelists at the Food and Hospitality Trends Panel held in New York July 9.
Hosted by the Paris Region Development Agency, the panel featured Dorothy Hamilton, founder of the International Culinary Institute, Karen Taylor, founder and editor of France Magazine, Valéry Lobry, managing director of Comexposium's agriculture and food division, and Corinne Menegaux, director of hospitality and restoration at Reed Expositions group, who all shared their expertise and insight on the expansion and development of French cuisine.
France's culinary trends reflect an emerging food philosophy based on five main consumer expectations from the culinary sector: pleasure, health, physical, convenience, and ethics. These expectations are what consumers seek when sitting down for a meal or buying a new product, according to Lobry.
Incorporating these expectations into culinary innovation reinforces the reputation of France as what Hamilton calls "the pinnacle of serious cooking and gastronomy."
"The benchmark of France is still the highest in the world. Most people don't even know that level of cooking," said Hamilton.
To get a sneak peek into the future of French food, check out The Daily Meal's round up below of the top four culinary trends currently on the rise in France.
1. French-Style Fast Food
A consequence of globalization, the process which has rendered the world undisputedly interconnected, is what Corinne Menegaux described as a loss of identity in the culinary field. With the expansion of Western fast food chains like McDonald's, culinary options are increasingly routine and decreasingly innovative.
What makes France notable, however, as Menegaux revealed, is the country's unique ability to create its own spin on conventional fast food, trademark its own recipes and designs, and be a "laboratory of ideas" when it comes to providing options for consumers.
"With Coca Coca, McDonald's, and KFC, globalization is a reality, but it does not mean eating the same thing everywhere," said Lobry.
McBaguette, for example, is a signature dish of McDonald's France and one of the highest selling items on its menus.
Paris is also home to 400 trade shows every year, which according to Karen Taylor encourage the "cross pollination" and "exchange of ideas" between countries, particularly in the culinary realm. These trade shows like Sial Trade Show bring together innovative products and their crafty creators to introduce new food trends to the public.
Sial Trade Show, which will be held in Paris in October, is a global food exhibition. Products showcased at past Sial Trade Shows include red pepper lollipops, macaroni with fois gras mousse, frozen muffin shaped macaroni and cheese cakes, and organic red wine chile sauce.
2. France’s Fast-Food Frenzy
In addition to France's spin on traditional fast-food joints, the panelists highlighted the country’s efforts to spearhead its own fast-food phenomenon in bars, hotels, and restaurants like Cojean and Courte Paille, two French fast-food chains.
France has invented its own style of upscale food to go, which reflects the desire of French consumers to experience gourmet cuisine without having to pay a hefty bill, said Lobry.
In response to this demand, chefs in France like Eric Frechon of Le Bristol Hotel, three-Michelin-star Yannic Alleno of Le Meurice, and Alain Senderens of Mama Shelter, are focusing on creating menus with affordable snack foods, such as pizza and club sandwiches.
"No other country has this many ideas for fast food," said Menegaux. "It's about creating food for the everyday."
3. Street Food
Food trucks have been a trend in the U.S. for some time, but the phenomenon is also gaining speed on the streets of France.
Just like in the U.S., food trucks are a way for chefs to get started, start their brand, and generate proof of their culinary concept without having to establish a brick-and-mortar home, according to Karen Taylor.
Le Camion Qui Fume, a popular food truck in Paris, is identified by the panel as selling some of the best burgers in Paris. Other Parisian food trucks like Cantine California, offering items like tacos, burritos, burgers, and pancakes, are also developing a following.
4. "Bien Manger" with Family and Friends
Sustainable food sources and cooking methods are at the top of France's culinary priorities along with a trend called "bien manger," which translates into English as "eat well," according to the panelists.
Bien manger is a concept that combines culinary commitments to nutritional balance, variation, convenience, and quality, according to Lobry.
Bien manger builds upon France’s traditional communal and ritualistic eating practices. Some 80 percent of people in France eat in the company of others and 80 to 85 percent of workers return home for lunch to eat with their families, according to Lobry.
The daily food intake for a person in France is six times a day, while the average American’s daily food in-take is nearly 13 times a day. When it comes to dining out, the French eat out one in every seven meals while Americans consume one out of every two meals in a restaurant, according to Lobry.
"A meal for a French person is a special ritual," said Lobry. "Lunch is a real meal where you have to sit down at the table."