Times change, even for venerable institutions

Escoffier is out, Bocuse is in as fine dining goges contemporaty at The Culinary Institute of America.

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was very possible to go to a fine dining restaurant where the “old rules” regarding preparation, service and diner decorum still held sway. But while high-end food can still be found in any number of white-tablecloth establishments, the classical “French-style” restaurant is definitely an endangered species.

If you need proof of this, just try to get a reservation at the Escoffier Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. It's impossible, because the restaurant closed its doors last week after 38 years of training young chefs in the fine art of formal French cuisine and service. The space, according to an article in The New York Times,  is currently undergoing a $3 million transformation into a contemporary French eatery to be named after French chef Paul Bocuse.

The new restaurant will echo, in the words of CIA president Tim Ryan, "the dining revolution in America." Fine French cuisine will continue to be emphasized, as at Escoffier, but so too will such concepts as creativity, cooperation and collaboration, sustainability and new technology. The restaurant, according to the artist's renderings of the space, will have a sleek, modern look and feel to it, giving chefs a truer sense of the environments in which they will be working once they graduate.

I'd dined at Escoffier only once, and it was an unforgettable experience. And I am someone who laments the shift toward a more casual approach to appearance and decorum on the part of diners in even the most conservative fine-dining restaurants. Still, I have to applaud the CIA for making a move that I'm sure some chefs believe is long overdue. Changing with the times is necessary if an institution is to remain relevant—even if it means parting with such an esteemed piece of the dining past.

Keywords: 
new construction

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

Sponsored Content
iced coffee foodservice

From International Delight ® Iced Coffee and STOK ® Cold Brew.

As temperatures soar, consumers look for any way they can to cool down. Much of the time, that means sipping on a cold beverage. And for the many patrons looking for a pick-me-up, iced coffee is a go-to choice, as it wakes them up and cools them down.

It’s no surprise, then, that iced coffee is a growing opportunity for operators. In Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 59% of consumers say they ordered iced coffee at least once in the past month from foodservice locations. With demand continuing to...

Industry News & Opinion

Oxnard Union High School District in Oxnard, Calif., is ending its meatless Mondays initiative due to cost and a lack of participation, the Camarillo Acorn reports.

Meatless Monday , which was offered on Fridays during the most recent school year, was the least popular lunch day during the week, according to school officials. The district hopes that the menu change will encourage more students to purchase school meals and help eliminate the $2 million deficit in its nutrition budget.

While 61% of students in the district qualify for free meals, only around half eat at the...

FSD Resources