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And each chef brought something different to the movement. Guérard brought his healthconsciousness. Outhier, who had worked at L’Oriental in Bangkok, was the one who introduced the Asian accent with spices and herbs. He knew how to use them: in minute quantities with subtle touches only. Bocuse bought charisma. Before long nouvelle cuisine was popularised by journalists eager to discover the new thing. It became the rage, a new creed, and its intellectuals were Gault and Millau. “First, a dinner was an opportunity to satisfy all our senses,” Gayot says, “beginning with sight. Food had to be presented in an artistic manner playing with colours and forms, and the plate had to be arranged as a work of art similar to a sculpture or a painting.” One can see already how this was going to lead to trouble. But wherever exaggerations, abuses or mistakes were committed in the name of nouvelle cuisine we must always remember


that the underlying principles were sound. Portions needed to be smaller, but when at the same time the plate got larger it was only natural for a diner to feel short-changed. And food has always needed to be attractively arranged. As Anton Mosimann has said, “We have all come to expect artistry in cooking as well as other aspects of life. When a meal is laid out artistically, when your guests look at the plate and cannot wait to eat, this is when food is truly appetising.” Nor is it surprising that presentation is so important to chefs. When cooking, they must be true to the food—as Point insisted, it must taste of what it is—but when plating they may give their personality free rein. To truly know a chef you cannot just taste his food, you must look at it, too. Yet even if a chef’s food is beautiful, it might pay not to judge too hastily … such creations may still have been born in a crucible of overheated emotion and random acts of violence.