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Guy Savoy Paris.

I’m ambivalent about fine dining. It’s not my favorite way to eat. I see that on the page and right away I hear snobbery and condescension. Eck. I’ve had the great good fortune to experience meals many people won’t. Meals that cost more than a really nice piece of jewelry. I don’t apologize for it, I’d rather have the experience than the bling. It’s what I do, it’s what I love. And I’m damn grateful for all of it. No regrets.

But lately I’ve wondered if there is a place in this world for the 3-Star, 24-course Chef’s Tasting menu with wine pairings, cheese cart and bonbons. Who can eat all that anyway? Who can afford it? Anthony Bourdain writes about this in Medium Raw, questioning whether or not that level of eating is needed, warranted, or just plain embarrassing. I agree, and found myself nodding my head vigorously throughout the piece. While I love the pomp, the pageantry, frankly, the days of digestive discomfort afterward, and the guilt that follows said discomfort, don’t often make the experience worth it. Sure, we’re talking about the meal for weeks as a fond memory, but. I dunno. I just don’t know.

I don’t often blog about things way outside my scope of experience, like the relevance of fine French cuisine during our times of debt, donuts, and diabetes. I also don’t normally blog about food outside Charlottesville and its environs.

But I came across a film this week that blew me away. Blew me away so much I felt it warranted more than just a Facebook mention. Enough to write about it. And to urge you to watch it. It’s a work of stunning beauty. It’s a work of art.

A friend of mine watched and called it the ultimate foodporn. To me, it’s more than that. So much more I feel the need to take off my sarcastic, snarky bullshit hat and get serious.

It’s a short film about Guy Savoy Restaurant in Paris, a dawn-to-dusk account of what goes on behind the scenes. And it’s breathtaking. From the market, to the kitchen, to the table. From wine to appetizer, to yes, cheese cart. I actually applauded when it came out. And after watching, I found once again I have to change my view.

Because there is still a place in this world for such pageantry. Such theater. Because that’s what it is, food THEATER. You only have to look at the pride on the faces of the staff to know this. Each staff member, scores of them, put forth 110% every day, all day to make sure that work of art on your plate is served perfectly.

It’s a gorgeously choreographed food ballet. It made me envious. To create in an environment where pride of work is so valued. To be able to make art of that magnitude every day. It made me wish everyone could experience a meal like that at least once.

Of course it’s not for every day. Neither is the opera, or the ballet, or diamond earrings, or Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s goddamn special. The ultimate. And yes, it should be preserved and revered the way other great art forms are protected. To show just how high our culinary talents can go if we put our minds to it. There’s everyday art, the beautifully rising bread dough, the crusty cheese top on some macaroni. Then there’s art like Guy Savoy is making.

Okay, off my soapbox. Proselytizing is tiring! Now go watch. If the pride on the faces of the Guy Savoy staff doesn’t bring you to tears and inspire you to go try and create some great works of your own, then I don’t know what else to tell you. Bravo Guy Savoy. Bravo.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jen #

    In general, I prefer simpler, less expensive meals; however, on those occasions when I’ve had the opportunity to eat an amazing meal in a very nice restaurant, I’ve always been happy with experience and remember it for a long time afterward. Celebrating my 30th birthday at The Inn at Little Washington comes to mind. More recently, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary at the Clifton Inn and it was wonderful. Still, I’m also just as happy to have Belmont BBQ or a burger at Boylan.

    January 30, 2012
  2. I prefer casual dining. I would rather spend $300 on an iPod than a meal. To each his own.

    February 1, 2012
  3. You know what? I do too. It’s stiff and formal. And maybe an unnecessary extravagance in these times of ours. But after watching the film, I realized that sometimes, just sometimes, I want theater. And this is certainly that. It’s like someone who gets off on bungy jumping or climbing mountains. They’re both experiences you talk about for years and years. And I can name 4-5 meals that we STILL talk about. This is culinary art. Just like haute couture is fashion art. Just like an iPOD is technological art. And ain’t art wonderful? :) :) :)

    February 1, 2012

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