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Cordon Bleu Model
French Chefs May Microwave “Most” Meals

Are the keepers of the most storied culinary tradition in the world serving microwave dinners? There’s cause to worry.  As The Times of London reports:

Most French chefs order the nation’s top dishes from a catalogue and reheat them in a microwave, according to a Parisian restaurateur. […]

Mr Denamur’s book Et si on se mettait enfin à table? (And if We Sat Down to Eat at Last) — suggests that they have every reason to be sceptical. He estimates that seven out of ten dishes served in French brasseries, bistros and cafés are factory-made and reheated in the kitchen. “The microwave has become the chef’s best friend,” he says.

So why are French restaurants ordering factory meals? The chef who spilled the beans suggests that the culprit may lie unnecessary expenses—particularly sky-high French taxes:

Mr Denamur, who has become a well-known agitator in France, argues that the government’s efforts to lift French gastronomy are doomed unless it cuts the country’s prohibitively high taxes. He says that these force restaurants to produce budget meals, employ staff on the black market and resort to various other manoeuvres

He admits that he bought alcoholic drinks for his restaurants in supermarkets for many years. This ensured that the profits from the drinks never appeared in the balance sheet.

As fun as all this is to laugh at, there’s a serious point to be gleaned here too: the costs and inefficiencies of the blue model are stifling growth, suppressing innovation and diminishing the quality of life in many ways—some of which don’t appear on a balance sheet.

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  • Rick Johnson

    As the great economist Ludwig von Mises noted many decades ago – whenever governments intervene in the economy, it produces an outcome that is worse from the government’s perspective than the problem it was trying to fix.

    Unfortunately there is little chance that the French government will heed this warning. After all, they have been given this advice since 1681 when French business leaders told the French government that the best thing it could do for business was ‘laissez-nous faire’ (let us be).

  • Kevin

    Maybe. The problem could also be a conflict between economic reality and consumer expectations. If for a given cost of production microwaved meals taste better then chefs should rationally use them – the problem is consumers who have a false notion that a meal prepared frsh by hand will always taste better – this may be true if you have unlimited resources (wages to pay chefs) but not if you have a fixed resource constraint. Presumably at very high end places that can afford very high costs, the extra quality from hand made may be worth it, but as you go diwn the price scale at some point it is not. How to convince deluded customers is another issue – one can understand the chefs’ desire to hide all of this from the customers.

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