Artisan Restaurateur - label - they're doing it
Just thought I'd mention, since there was a huge discussion about this elsewhere, that Ducasse, Robuchon, Alleno, Pic and others are creating a label named "Artisan Restaurateur" to honor restaurants that cook fresh products on the premise.
A bunch of chefs from the French Culinary College will choose the restaurants based on their own criteria and a website where anyone will be able to answer some questions to judge a restaurant (I know they're trying to show they are open minded and web 2.0, but is that really a good idea ?).
For more info, there is an article in french over here : atable.blog.lemonde.fr/2013/04/08/artisans-restaurateurs-la-plaque/
And here is the link of the Collège Culinaire de France : http://www.college-culinaire-de-franc...
There is a discussion about this led by Xavier Denamur, a restaurateur-cum-activist fighting for correct labeling and basic honesty in restaurant practices.
He is against this fake label (and so am I), an entirely private Ducasse initiative (another one) aiming at catching as much media attention as possible and short-circuiting any legal dispositions that need to be made. A label has to benefit everybody, not just 15 restaurateurs who choose to paste it onto their own restaurant.
Here is Xavier's interview about the matter:
re: John Talbott
At least Slow Food was/is serious about its subject matter. Technically, since the "Artisan Restaurateur" is pure self-congratulation that was never designed by any authority above the chefs, they have all liability to post it on their restaurant front, menus, etc., while having commercial contracts with industrial food corporations or indulging in "molecular" shenanigans. Thierry Marx as part of the list, give me a break.
Only a true state label could resolve that contradiction. That is precisely what labels are made for.
There are good and sincere chefs in that list. Too bad they were lured into that joke.
But that's exactly the point of the new "label" - avoiding the intervention of any state-controlled authority on what happens in their kitchens (as a Label Rouge or AOP/AOC does on food production).
Some of these chefs are not particularly known for their commitment to fresh products but, because of their high status as starred chefs, for their contracts with the agrofood business. Contracts which they would rather protect, considering that star-chef business usually does not stand on its own and needs to be propped by a certain amount of parallel income (from guest rooms and bistrots to endorsing Danone, Nestlé or Maggi).
In terms of transparency, that label is worth zero, but they hope to use it as a shield and claim they are already "doing the right thing" when the legislation starts to get a bit more focused. Not sure they get the expected result. As you say, a recipe for disaster.
I am ready to bet a good bottle of red that Cyril Lignac, for instance, will be among the first to buy the label (for it is a label that you can buy, you don't have to deserve it). Actually, when you think of it, the presence of that label on any restaurant will plainly mean that the chef/owner has preferred to buy a piece of decoration that makes him look good than have some state quality services dig their inquisitive nose into his business for the sake of the customers.