“Our restaurants, a great French story”, on M6: from “bouillon restaurant la santé” to bistronomy

If the French “like cars”, “they like food” too, assures Philippe Etchebest, multi-starred chef

“Our restaurants, a great French story”, on M6: from “bouillon restaurant la santé” to bistronomy

If the French “like cars”, “they like food” too, assures Philippe Etchebest, multi-starred chef. They even like it in the radio and television version and the channels know it. Hence the proliferation of culinary programs at the end of the year... Also, two weeks after the very comprehensive "Secret d'histoire" devoted to the illustrious cooks Vatel, Carême and Escoffier, the history of "Our restaurants" had to be be creative to tantalize our taste buds.

Experienced director Emmanuel Blanchard takes up the challenge, inserting into a solid chronological sequence testimonies from restaurateurs and figures of current cuisine, all popular. All, except one: Jacques Borel, inventor during the “glorious thirties” of mass catering, the motorway restaurant, the Ticket Restaurant, the chopped steak – among others – and the first fast-food restaurant in France, the Wimpy , opened in Paris on May 21, 1961. At 95 years old, he confides here with humor in what should become the signature interview of the film.

But before getting there, the restaurant adventure began in 1765, when Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau opened his Maison de santé. For the first time, the customer can eat alone at a table and choose their dish from a “card”. Specialties of the place, the “health-restoring broths” are at the origin of the word “restaurant”, which will spread, in French, throughout the world.

Narrated by the menu

The film focuses on France. Two hundred and fifty years of ups, downs, crises (with the notable exception of Covid-19, not mentioned) and adaptations of bistros, cafés and brasseries, are “told through the menu, obviously”, by François- Régis Gaudry, a voice known to listeners of France Inter – “We will taste” – and spectators of Paris Première (“Very very good”).

The archive sequences are punctuated by anecdotes from media leaders (not always the same ones): Thierry Marx, Cyril Lignac, Hélène Darroze, Philippe Etchebest... But not only that. We therefore had the pleasure of meeting Gaud Le Manchec, who took over a truck driver in Brittany, in his family for five generations; or Mustapha Kachetel, descendant of the creator of the first “couscous”, in Marseille in 1921. As a common thread, the viewer follows the renovation of Madame Brasserie on the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower, until its reopening at the end of May 2022.

The side effects of catering are also discussed, such as working conditions in the kitchen, the organization by brigades invented by Escoffier, or the origin of the Michelin guide (born in 1900), concomitant with the appearance of the profession of critic. gastronomic. But a good century later, what is the situation?

If we want to be positive, let's remember that the cooks, long mistreated, are now recognized; their job is a dream and 20,000 restaurants open every year. On the other hand, the restaurant model is losing momentum and the competition is tough. “Bistronomy” can be a solution, abandoning codes in favor of spontaneity. It’s “Come as you want”, summarizes the critic Aïtor Alfonso, declining – involuntarily? – McDonald’s slogan from the 2000s, “Come as you are.” Like cars, catering must once again reinvent itself.