The new Michelin guide for France came out last week and has caused much stir in the restaurant world. Many think the old-fashioned European restaurant guides such as GaultMillau and Michelin — once had-to-haves for any restaurant lover — are antiquated and stagnant and can’t keep up with our changing times, that they are ancien régime, dinosaurs of times past.
This may well be. While restaurants come and go, some restaurant goers continue to yearn for the traditional cooking of the past, insisting that today’s young chefs don’t even know all the basic techniques of Cuisine, with a capital “C.” In 2010, UNESCO declared that the French gastronomic meal is part of French cultural heritage, defining specific rules and social occasions for partaking of it, as if it were a species in danger of extinction.
Others, such as food critic David Downie, in his article “Surveying the Paris food scene: a mecca again — but is it French?” on Gadling, and Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in his review of Au Revoir to All that: The Rise and Fall of French Cuisine by Michael Steinberger, dare to question whether the French restaurant scene is still French, yet conclude that it doesn’t matter. Paris and France will always be the Elysian Fields of the food gods, no matter what their nationality, and innovation has never stopped.
What has changed is the way we eat — lighter — and the way we choose restaurants. In France and Switzerland, as in most places, the traditional restaurant guides are often outdated before they even go to print. Restaurants come and go, as do chefs. Establishments are no longer bastions of a certain type of cuisine by a certain chef. Because of this, on-line guides are more flexible and can change with the times. They can be updated daily or even hourly, unlike printed guides.
It is for this reason that The Rambling Epicure is partnering with iTaste, a Swiss-based restaurant social network, which is quickly spreading its antennae all over Europe. iTaste refers to itself as “the food critics’ social network” and “the web’s gourmet word of mouth network.”
The beauty of iTaste is that you can define your tastes in restaurants, read reviews of user-critics with similar taste, and follow their reviews on a regular basis, just as you do with any social network.
Their argument is that Google is convenient, but a human search engine is even better. In the iTaste communitiy, each iTaster becomes a food critic and shares his or her reviews with their contacts and followers.
iTaste was founded by Paul de la Rochefauld in Geneva, Switzerland, and has slowly been spreading its wings to the rest of Europe, including France, Germany, Italy and Belgium. It is in French, English and German. Since it gives you the possibility of entering a location and a restaurant, its possibilities are endless. You can even be the first one to start by entering your favorite restaurant in your home country. See you there!
Click here to go to iTaste.