March 19 is going to be a special day for French cuisine lovers.
Some 1,300 restaurants all over the world, including 32 in China, plan to showcase the best of French gastronomy on that day by offering the public dinner menus that highlight French culinary traditions.
All of the menus will have a traditional French aperitif, a cold starter, a hot starter, fish or shellfish, meat or poultry, a French cheese (or cheeseboard), a chocolate dessert, French wines and digestifs, officials at the French embassy in Beijing said last week.
The event is inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the Diners d'Epicure (Epicurean Dinners) initiative in 1912 to reach and serve as many diners as possible with the same menu in the same day at several world cities. This year's event started in November by its organizers, the French foreign ministry and French gastronomy's contemporary godfather, Alain Ducasse, one of the only few chefs who have amassed a total of more than 20 Michelin stars.
Ducasse chaired an international panel of chefs to select final menus proposed by the chef applicants, who are from establishments ranging from bistros to luxury restaurants.
"French cuisine has this power to enhance imagination and to bring happiness in a potentially difficult context," Ducasse says on his website announcement of the event.
The dinner menus for Thursday must be composed of fresh, seasonal and localized dishes that have low levels of fat, sugar, salt and protein, apart from being French in style.
Each menu's price is the restaurant's decision, and participating eateries are encouraged to donate 5 percent of proceeds to a local NGO promoting health and environmental protection.
About 43 Chinese restaurants had applied on the initiative's website, Goodfrance.com, before 32 were selected, according to the French embassy.
Nine of the selected Chinese restaurants are in Beijing, and the rest are in cities across the country, including Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chengdu.
At the news conference last week, chefs from the nine restaurants in Beijing disclosed their menus. All participating restaurants - with menus ranging from bistro to contemporary to fine dining - have posted information online at Goodfrance.com, including their addresses and contacts.
Pan-fried fresh sea scallop with fresh tarragon champagne sauce at Petrus French Restaurant in Beijing. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 03/17/2015 page24)