Bringing Paris dining down to earth, and Maui


POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

Like all great revolutions, Le Fooding was born from a rebel group's passionate support of a cause. In its case the dissidents were innovative chefs in France who wanted to liberate haute cuisine from the shackles of Michelin stars, bone china, polished silver and crystal stemware.

They envisioned fine dining without the fuss. Instead of a formal setting with Bach playing in the background, a snooty maitre d' and napkins folded just so, the ambience would be fun and festive. Service would be friendly and attentive if not polished, attire would be Banana Republic casual and no one would blanch at the cost of the food, which, of course, would be fantastique!

Their goal: Demystify “;French cuisine.”; Eliminate its pretentiousness. Make it available to the masses.

In 2000, Paris journalist Alexandre Cammas brought a face and direction to the movement. Gastronomy, he declared, was a byword of the old guard. Since the Greek suffix “;nomy”; means “;regulation and administration,”; it didn't express the relaxation and enjoyment inherent in a memorable dining experience. He coined the moniker Le Fooding, a combination of “;food”; and “;feeling,”; for both the movement and the organization he founded to promote it.




IF YOU GO ......


        » Place: Paina Culinary Arts Center, Maui Community College, 310 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului, Maui

        » Date: Thursday, Nov. 19

        » Time: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

        » Cost: $30 per person, $17 for MCC students with valid identification. Wine selections, courtesy of Better Brands, will be available to those age 21 and older for $5 per glass. Be sure you bring a picture ID.

        » Phone: 984-3434. Reservations are required and seating is limited.

        » E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

        » Web site: www.mauiculinary.com

        » Notes: Ample free parking will be available. For Maui Culinary Academy program information and dining options, call 984-3690.

Over the years, Le Fooding has undergone phenomenal growth. It publishes a guide to 800 restaurants in France, manages a companion Web site (http://www.lefooding.com) and spearheads “;urban picnics”; for thousands that recognize little-known, cutting-edge chefs and establishments, weave in marvelous art and music and benefit a charity to boot.

It's all delightful, feel-good stuff. “;We value 'le feeling' ... intuition, the emotional and psychological reaction you have to a restaurant,”; Cammas explained in “;Le Fooding Bites the Big Apple,”; which appeared in the August issue of Gourmet. “;Good food doesn't taste good unless you're happy.”;

That was one of many articles that trumpeted America's first taste of Le Fooding. In September a young, hip crowd of 2,000 packed New York's P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center for two days of glorious grazing to benefit Action Against Hunger. Cammas dubbed it “;Foodstock.”;

Which brings us, at last, to Maui. While vacationing in France during the summer, Clyde Sakamoto, chancellor of Maui Community College, read a New York Times story about New York's Le Fooding event, and inspiration struck: Why not present something similar on campus to expose students to fine cuisine at an affordable price while showcasing fresh local products and the talents of students in the college's Maui Culinary Academy?


When he returned home, Sakamoto shared his idea with MCA's program coordinator Chris Speere and chef instructor Jake Belmonte. They agreed it was a winning concept on all counts, and added Le Fooding Maui Style to the curriculum for upper-division students enrolled in the Garde Manger/Buffet Preparation class.

Set for Nov. 19, the event no doubt will draw foodies from Kula to Kapalua. “;It will bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to discover the pleasures of the table,”; Speere said. “;It will also give them a global perspective of the exciting, ever-evolving trends in the culinary industry, introduce them to a wide array of quality local products and increase their knowledge of healthy food choices and preparations.”;

Under the supervision of MCA faculty, students will create elaborate table displays and tantalizing dishes representing France, Greece, Portugal and Italy. Ninety percent of the ingredients will come from on-island sources such as Maui Cattle Co., Alii Kula Lavender, Surfing Goat Dairy and Kula Coffee.

As they plan and implement the event, the fledgling chefs will develop leadership and teamwork skills that are essential for success in today's challenging workplace environment. Even better, proceeds will support MCA's Student Aid Program.

“;Hosting a Le Fooding event makes great sense for the Maui Culinary Academy,”; Speere said. “;We wish to be associated with and a catalyst for 'all things culinary' on Maui. You don't have to go to Paris or New York to find out what the latest trends are. Our staff and students keep abreast of them and incorporate them at our six food outlets, which, along with the Class Act, our fine-dining restaurant, are open to the public.”;

MCA's mission is to spur students to use quality ingredients, imagination and an entrepreneurial spirit to create dining adventures that engage more than the taste buds. “;This will be evident at Le Fooding Maui Style,”; Speere said. “;We'll take you on a grand journey that explores the foods we eat, the people who grow and prepare them, and the wonderful feelings that eating well can bring.”;

IF YOU GO ......


Gourmets have something else to look forward to this month. On Nov. 13, Maui Culinary Academy will present its annual fundraiser, the Noble Chef, at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort in Wailea.

Set for 6 to 9 p.m., the event will feature a welcome reception with a martini bar and hor d'oeuvres, and an elegant five-course dinner prepared by MCA's students, distinguished alumni and chef instructors. Also planned is a live auction of fabulous items, including a golf getaway at Kapalua Resort, a fishing excursion aboard a 53-foot sailboat and a lunch with wine for eight guests at Tedeschi Vineyards.

Tickets are $150 per person. By becoming a Noble Chef sponsor with a $2,000 contribution, individuals and businesses will receive a premium table for eight at the event; a selection of jams, spices and other MCA products; MCA chocolates for each of their guests; and more. Call 984-3261 to make reservations.

All proceeds support MCA's scholarships, professional development activities, purchases of new equipment and students' participation in culinary competitions.

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Bulletin have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.