Cuisine is a style of food preparation characterised by ingredients, techniques, and dishes. It is often associated with a specific culture or region. Italian cuisine, for instance, typically brings to mind pasta and pizza dishes.
At La Belle Assiette, we ask our chefs to label their menus by cuisine type to try and help customers find the menu they are looking for. A cuisine style tends to follow certain rules which makes it identifiable. We asked chef Christos Georgakis to share his personal take on cuisines with us…
“Cooking techniques are like fashion; they come and go, but at the end of the day chefs always go back to traditional methods.”
Traditional foods are dishes that have been passed down through generations. To make traditional cuisine, chefs generally use classical techniques without any twists or modern modifications.
In England, for instance, a Sunday roast is a meal traditionally eaten on Sundays. Originally this was because a grand meal was eaten after a morning church service. Many Catholics would abstain from eating meat on Fridays; the Sunday roast was thus created as a mark of celebration to mark the end of this ‘meat fast’. Furthermore, traditional dishes tend to use ingredients which can be sourced in the local region.
The Sunday Roast, by Artan Hasa
Duck Egg Royale with smoked salmon, toasted brioche and hollandaise sauce
Roasted sirloin of beef with roasted potato, Yorkshire puddings, seasonal vegetables and rosemary jus
Bread and butter pudding with vanilla custard
“We would find ways to use every part of the animal as well. With beef, for instance, we would use the bones for stock; the fat for slow confit meat and roast potatoes; hang the prime cuts for sirloin and ribs; and dice the guts for pies and sausages.”
The term ‘gastropub’ was coined in the 1990s. British pubs have traditionally existed purely as drinking houses, and there was little emphasis on serving food, other than basic cold dishes. The concept of a gastropub and dining in pubs reinvigorated pub culture. The term gastropub is also associated with high quality, fine dining pub grub. Often they serve hand-crafted beer and local food produce.
Chef Christos emphasised how when he worked at a gastropub, they would source all their vegetables and meat from local farms.
The Gastropub, by Stephen Gallagher-Huntley
Tandoori marinated chicken breast served with cucumber mint raita, tomato and onion salsa with mango dressing
6oz rump steak served with triple cooked chips slow roasted vine tomato grilled flat mushroom and peppercorn sauce
Rich dark chocolate and whiskey mousse
Gastropubs are fairly fashionable now, but Christos warned not to confuse them with normal pubs which serve below par products.
“To cook molecular cuisine these days you would need a university degree!”
Molecular gastronomy was established by two physicists at the University of Oxford in 1988. They were interested in the mechanisms of transformation that occur during the culinary process, investigating concepts such as the swelling of soufflé. Molecular cuisine has spiralled out of the study of molecular gastronomy.
Chefs use these new scientific techniques in order to create multi-sensory menus. Molecular menus may typically include flavours presented in foams, gels, and sometimes smoke. Chef Gordon Ramsay once criticised this style of cuisine, saying that “food should not be played with by scientists. A chef should use his fingers and his tongue, not a test tube.”
Chef Christos said that it can feel like you are in an art museum; “it looks absolutely fantastic, but it’s almost isolating. I am not sure if that is what everyday cooking is about.”
The Famous Menu, by Jacques Van Der Merwe
Snow Crab I Endive I Garden Pea I Cucumber I Compressed Watermelon
Smoked Salmon I Citrus I Creme Fraiche I Capers
Lobster I Carrots I Buttermilk I Sourdough
Risotto I Exotic Mushroom I Ricotta I Pumpkin & Lemon Pesto I Garlic Foam
Fillet of Beef I Bone marrow I Shitake Mushrooms I Potato Fondants
Whipped Ricotta I Figs I Balsamic I Lemon I Caramel
Chocolate Mousse I Coral Sponge I Mint Marshmellow I Almond Gelato
Candy Floss I Condensed Milk Cream I White Chocolate I Strawberry Gel
For chefs, molecular cuisine is all about flavour and stimulating various senses. Molecular cuisine is often served in tasting menus, which concentrate on small bursts of flavour rather than filling quantities.
“When I make my favourite salmon dish, I love using French veloute and Welsh laverbread! Nothing wrong with that.”
Fusion cuisine combines elements of various regional cuisines to create a unique dish. It experiments with combinations of flavours to produce bold and interesting tastes.
Chef Christos said that most countries and chefs having been creating fusion dishes for years, but the term has really become popular over the last decade.
Japanese French Fusion, by Walter Ishizuka
Salmon tataki half smoked, lime cream, black sesame seed / Blinis of shrimp, soy sauce mayonnaise
Udon noodle with roasted shitake mushrooms bouillon, pickled red onion, shaved chestnut mushrooms
Chicken teryaki, buttered pomme puree, glazed baby carrot / Glazed mizo cod, spicy soft poletna
Yuzu and lime curd, crispy meringue, raspberries, golden leaf
Garlic bread and wasabi oil
La Belle Assiette website has 219 menus that chefs have described as ‘fusion cuisine’.
Present and Future
According to Chef Christos, it is the competition between chefs that drives the development of new cuisines.
“Every decade, a new cuisine style appears. This is a result of chefs pushing themselves to the limit to be the best, allowing them to discover new techniques and overcoming boundaries.”
In the beginning of the 21st century, chefs have been fascinated by molecular and fusion cuisine. It will be interesting to watch how the food industry evolves over the next couple of decades.
La Belle Assiette
Check out the La Belle Assiette menu range. Our chefs offer anything from traditional, to gastro-pub; fusion; local; tapas; molecular, and modern. You can find all the aforementioned menus on our website.