MONACO (Reuters) - When 25 chefs to heads of states join up for an anniversary dinner on Friday, they will keeping off the heavy sauces in the presence of Prince Albert of Monaco.
Large ‘coeur de boeuf’ tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil and slightly cooked mixed vegetables will be on the menu with a pistou of riquette salad leaves.
No truffles — it is not the season anyway — no goose or duck liver or the various fancy fatty sauces that have long been the hallmark of high class French cuisine.
Instead there will be a sea bass steak with shallots, tomatoes and a white wine sauce, veal filet with chanterelle mushrooms and for desert a strawberry souffle.
Their employers also like good food, but have to stay fit.
“I have to deal with people who eat too much and often do so three times a day,” said Michel Addons, chef at the European Commission in Brussels.
“I’d rather not pile in the calories. So no sauce dishes, no offal... just light, natural cuisine, if possible steamed. That is simple and complicated at the same time,” he told a news conference ahead of the dinner of the select ‘Club de Chefs des Chefs’ of cooks to world leaders.
Among those celebrating the 30th anniversary of the club are chefs from the kitchens of the White House, of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and of the Chinese leadership.
One of the veterans is Bernard Vaussion who has been working at the Elysee for 34 years and has served five French presidents.
He said he did not yet completely know the culinary preferences of Nicolas Sarkozy but he said that presidents Georges Pompidou and Jacques Chirac liked the traditional French cuisine with “hearty meals that stand up”.
In 1977, 12 chefs met at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont d’Or, near Lyon, and swapped tips and anecdotes while enjoying dishes like the VGE truffle soup Bocuse had invented for the French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.
In 1980, the King of Sweden started a tradition that a head of state hosts the dinner, a role performed by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Hassan II of Morocco and now Albert II of Monaco.
The chefs who came to France last Sunday for the anniversary visit include Cristeta Comerford, who has headed the White House kitchen since 2005 and is the first woman to do so.
There is Queen Elizabeth’s chef Mark Flanagan and Wang Lidai and Xie Hu who cook for the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Fabrizio Boca cooks for the president of Italy while Ulrich Kerz makes light versions of traditional German dishes for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The heads of state have had to do without their trusted chefs this week as they toured the southeast of France and had meals with top chefs Bocuse, Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse.
And with Sylvain Etievant, who is responsible for the gala diner in the Hotel de Paris in Monaco.