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Classic French food is making a huge comeback in the United States. American favorites like waffles and barbecue will never fall and new global trends are taking root daily, but it’s time to get reacquainted with fancy French dishes — this time with a modern twist. The James Beard Foundation even noted that “Everything is French again” in their food trend forecasts for 2017. And it shows, as chefs are trying inventive recipes and caterers are bringing new French food ideas to the forefront.

Recent Trends in French Food

Quiches are a French dish that balanced out American muffins in recent years

Over the past 20 years, there’s been a huge growth in the fast casual market. Restaurants like Boston Market and Einstein Bros. Bagels allowed us to bring whole comforting meals home, and fast. P.F. Chang’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and others met the demand with diverse cuisines. But as a result, formal, five-star dining fell by the wayside. That meant that fancy French food fell with it.

Chefs adjusted. Casual, lively bistros replaced formal French restaurants. Catering chefs like Denver’s Pour la France coupled American muffins and breakfast scrambles on their menu alongside French stuffed croissants. Across the country, formally trained chefs added gourmet macaroni and cheese and burgers to their fancier French menus.

But Now Le Tide Turns

French canales

Bloomberg reports that fast-casual restaurant growth slowed to 6 percent in 2017, down from 8 percent in 2016. Eaters are craving a bit more than fun takes on burgers and fries, and French cuisine once again sits ready to dazzle. Here are just a few chefs making waves in restaurants coast-to-coast.

In New York, guests at the glittering Le Coucou dine on Chef Daniel Rose’s classic French dishes like canard et crises (duck with cherries), foie gras, and black olives. Chef Daniel’s Skurnick’s desserts includes the “thousand layer” puff pastry cake mille-feuille aux framboises and omelette Norvégienne: a Baked Alaska of crunchy meringue, pistachio ice cream, and dripping red cherries that waiters dramatically flambé tableside.

At Seattle’s L’Oursin, French/American Chef JJ Proville’s classic French dishes include duck liver mousse with brioche, and chicken au vin jaune (chicken stewed slowly with woody, tart wine and earthy morels). It’s served with greens, oyster mushrooms, and potato mousseline, which is potatoes boiled and put through a ricer, then mixed with butter and cream so that they’re like an incredibly fluffy version of mashed potatoes.

In Los Angeles, French Ludo Lefebvre’s formal Trois Mec features a tasting-menu with all of the French trimmings. His more casual Petit Trois serves French Onion Soup with gruyere and emmental cheeses, steak tartar with fried shallots and elderberries, and a simple French omelette with Boursin pepper cheese and chives.

Bringing French Dishes to the Office

French desserts are an easy to cater French food idea

A flaming omelette Norvégienne may not be the most appropriate dish to bring into your French Friday-themed event. But around the country, caterers are bringing more and more va-va-voom to French food ideas. Here are some caterers with french dishes to consider.

  • La Madeleine French Bakery and Café (locations in Georgia and North Carolina) offers strawberries swimming in orange liqueur, and an assortment of classic mini French tarts and parfaits. Don’t miss out on the quintessential Sacher Torte. It’s a chocolate cake filled with raspberry preserves topped with dollops of chocolate mousse and shavings of chocolate ganache.
  • French Food Therapy (Las Vegas) has some of the most gourmet crepes nationwide. Their gluten-free buckwheat batter can be filled with anything. Try the vegan ratatouille, savory prosciutto and cheese, or sweet dulce-de-leche.
  • Le Petit Sucre (Chicago) makes impeccable French almond macarons. But their classic quiches (and plenty of gluten-free crust options) filled with healthy vegetables make for a perfect oh-so-French luncheon pairing.
  • Troissant (Dallas) delivers croissants for those who shun tradition. Their hybrid pastry combines American cinnamon rolls and classic French croissants in flavors like Apple-Cinnamon and Cinnamon-Pecan.
  • La Flamme (Oakland) smothers a thin layer of bread dough with crème fraiche and fromage blanc (French white cheese). Then they add a variety of savory toppings like caramelized onions, tomatoes, and bacon. After a char in the wood oven, you’ve got a “pizza” from the Alsace region of France as addictive as any straight from Rome.

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Jacqueline Raposo

Written by:

Jacqueline Raposo

Jacqueline Raposo is an expert interviewer. Her over 400 articles, essays, and podcast episodes feature Missy Robbins, Daniel Boulud, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelsson, and other such award-winning chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, managers, and hospitality personnel. Find her at www.jacquelineraposo.com or as @wordsfoodart.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: Catering, Food Trends