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What Is Cuisine Classique?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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Cuisine classique is a specific style of French cuisine that a chef named Georges Auguste Escoffier developed in the mid-19th century. His cooking style and approach to running a professional kitchen were noticeable departures from previous methods, but his ideas became standards for the world of haute cuisine relatively quickly. Chef Escoffier pioneered practices of fine dining service such as meals served in sequential courses. He also developed and applied the concepts of the chef brigade that are still used to cook and serve fine dining guests as efficiently as possible. His initial techniques of cuisine classique also saw some refinements and contributions borrowed from the ideas of other chefs such as Antoine Carême and Urbain François Dubois.

Traditional French cooking in restaurants involved a practice of serving each table's appetizers, entrees, side dishes, and desserts all at once up until the development of cuisine classique, and this practice often placed unnecessary delays and inefficiency on the kitchen staff. One of the main characteristics of cuisine classique was a method that introduced different meal courses. This practice took much of the stress off of restaurant kitchen chefs and allowed them to work as teams overseen by a head chef.

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Many of Chef Escoffier's ideas for his certain cooking style are found in a comprehensive guide he wrote and titled Le Guide Culinaire. In addition to the cuisine classique method of restaurant organization, his book details specific steps for preparing various staples of French cuisine. Ingredients, recipes, and detailed cooking tips for a variety of dish components can be found in Le Guide Culinaire. Examples include sauces, garnishes, and frozen desserts from scratch. Chef Escoffier's goal in writing this cooking guide was to make the process of learning French cooking both streamlined and authentic to cultural cuisine traditions.

Additional practices in cuisine classique come from Chef Carême's ideas of refining restaurant meal service by listing courses on the menu in the order they would be served to guests. He also authored several cooking guides that are still frequently used along with Le Guide Culinaire in many culinary schools. Chef Dubois' techniques for artistic pastry-making make up another contribution to the cuisine classique tradition. Several of his ideas were added to later editions of Le Guide Culinaire to teach aspiring chefs how to make detailed and high-end desserts with the same quality and efficiency as the rest of the meal courses coming out of a brigade-run restaurant kitchen.

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