Wait for the fries! The Paris Olympic Games chart a new gastronomic course.

There will be no fries for the 15,000 athletes at the Olympic Games that will open in France in July. Yes, you read that right.

In what is considered the largest restaurant in the world (a 700-foot-long former power plant in the heart of the Olympic Village) there will also be no foie gras, but vegetarian hot dogs and quinoa muesli will be plentiful.

Strolling along what is known as the nave, a light-filled domed space where some 45,000 meals a day will be served 24/7 during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Stéphane Chicheri and Charles Guilloy, the chefs responsible, sang the praises of vegetarian shawarma, za’atar-spiced sweet potatoes with hummus, dill pickles, beet falafel, and roasted eggplant with smoked paprika.

This is a far cry from the classic French cuisine of elaborate sauces and “enough melted butter to thrombose a regiment,” as AJ Liebling once described a dish.

But these are a 21st century Games on a warming planet. The carbon footprint trumps the cassoulet. Plant protein is the key; and of course athletes have to perform in a country of a thousand epicurean delights that are prohibited by its demanding nutritionists.

“French fries are too risky because of concerns about the fire risk from deep fryers,” Guilloy explained. “No to foie gras because animal welfare is on everyone’s mind, and no to avocados because they are imported from far away and consume a lot of water.”

So how can these Green Games be without fries?

“Don’t worry; we’ll have French cheeses, veal blanchette but with a lighter sauce and, of course, baguettes,” Chicheri said with a smile. “Athletes can even learn how to make bread from a master baker.”

In the dining room of the Olympic Village of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, some 500 different dishes will be served. The building itself is a tribute to environmentally friendly adaptation: a nearly century-old power plant with a wrought-iron skeleton that was converted into a movie studio before being transformed over the past year into a giant restaurant.

The Olympic Village restaurant will open as a global government campaign to boost French gastronomic impact and appeal gains momentum. With some 15 million visitors expected at the games, two million of them foreigners, France itself will be present, and in particular Paris, posing the challenge of how to energize a culinary culture linked to tradition.

This is a critical moment for French cuisine, whose pedigree is indisputable but whose image has languished. How many “likes” does beef bourguignon get these days alongside ceviche, tapas or an omakase dinner?

“We are a country with a centuries-old gastronomic tradition, but the truth is that if you have a talent and you don’t cultivate it, it can fade away,” Olivia Grégoire, Minister of Tourism, said in an interview.

He visited New York this month to promote a new multimillion-dollar initiative designed to showcase young chefs and innovative French dishes in locations that will initially include South Korea, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “Food is French soft power,” Grégoire said. “It’s also hard money.”

More than 800,000 people work in the restaurant business in France, and the gastronomic sector, including wines and spirits, generates more than $55 billion a year in revenue.

In few countries is the ritual meeting around a table so important. In far fewer countries is there such intense pride in the varied products of terroirs, particular plots of land with their own soil and climate, from the Alps to the Atlantic and from Normandy to the Mediterranean.

“The best gastronomy is in our DNA; “It is a reference for all students of haute cuisine,” said Alain Ducasse, one of the most acclaimed French chefs who has been chosen to cater the July 26 Olympic opening dinner for heads of state, ( )in which the chef has been asked to serve beef.

“But there is a new international challenge and we have been slow to be part of it,” he said. “Talent is everywhere. We need to wake up to that.”

With 34 restaurants and 18 Michelin stars in Europe, Asia and the United States, Ducasse is not far behind, and there are other French chefs, such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud, who have successfully seen the world as their market. .

But even though French cuisine has changed—adding fusion touches to old dishes in ways that have spawned the “néobistrot” and introducing “le Sharing” as a surprisingly novel way of eating—its image has barely changed.

In this context, the repertoire of the Olympic Village could represent an important turning point. There will be six “to-go” outlets, Asian cuisine, Afro-Caribbean dishes, vegetarian shawarma, burgers (meat, vegetarian or a combination of both), Middle Eastern food and halal cuisine. Kosher food will also be available upon request.

Potatoes bravas will probably be the closest thing to French fries.

Two full-fledged French restaurants are planned, but without classics such as Steak Tartar, blood sausage or choucroute. Wine, of course, is prohibited because, ultimately, the goal of this 46,000-square-foot, 3,623-seat emporium is to prepare athletes for peak performance.

The other point is to underline that France takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.

French Olympic authorities banned disposable cutlery and plates. They haven’t banished trash cans from kitchens, as some Paris restaurants have done, but they do require a zero-waste culture. About 80 percent of the ingredients will be French and 25 percent from a 155-mile radius of Paris. The goal is to halve the carbon footprint of the Tokyo or London Olympic Games.

The French company that organizes this large catering company is Sodexo Live, a subsidiary of the Sodexo company, which employs 420,000 people in food services and facilities management worldwide. Sodexo Live, which has attended 15 Super Bowls and 36 Roland Garros tennis tournaments in France, knows its business, but the scale of this challenge is unique.

“We are hiring 6,000 people. Our goal is to make everyone feel at home and to combine the nutrition that an athlete needs with gastronomic pleasure,” Nathalie Bellon-Szabo, CEO of Sodexo Live, said in an interview.

To this end, three highly praised chefs have been chosen, each of whom will appear for a couple of days each week in the Olympic Village and prepare the creative dishes that France wants the world to know better.

This is Alexandre Mazzia, who grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has a restaurant in Marseille, AM, with a strong African influence and three Michelin stars; Akrame Benallal, who grew up in Algeria and runs Restaurant Akrame, a one-star Parisian restaurant with surprising flavor combinations: crab with gray shrimp and coffee, for example; and Frenchwoman Amandine Chaignot, whose Café de Luce serves some of the most succulent frog legs in the capital.

“French cuisine is becoming emancipated. He has realized the need to change,” said Mazzia, 47. “For me, French cuisine is now multicultural, with different roots and spices, lighter, allied to a savoir-faire that we must preserve.”

Benallal, 42, calls himself an “architect of taste” and always outlines the presentation of new dishes because he believes that “we eat with our eyes first.” His red and white quinoa muesli, topped with parmesan, a little mascarpone and a little smoked yogurt is typical of the inventiveness that has earned him a large following.

“French cuisine is sometimes considered boring,” he said. “It’s not boring. It’s unique. My restaurant is a piece of furniture full of curiosities and that’s what I’ll bring to the Games.”

As for Chaignot, 45, he prepared a poached egg croissant with artichoke cream, goat cheese and truffles to eat on the go in the Olympic Village. Another creation is a chicken dish with prawns.

Even in a changing culinary world there are some constants. What defines, I asked, current French cuisine?

“Butter is France,” he said. “And France is butter.”

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