AbonnéFood & Drink

High gastronomy: the inevitable rebirth

Samia Tawil

By Samia Tawil06 avril 2023

Closures of many starred establishments have put into light the business model’s challenging equation. Yet, the global catering market is doing well. New options are emerging, enabling chefs to carry on and finance their cuisine.

In order to diversify their clientele, many chefs have come up with new, more affordable restaurant concepts, thus attracting a younger clientele (Shutterstock)

Renowned gastronomic restaurants closing over the past years have caused shockwaves. The chef of famous Parisian address Antoine, with two Michelin stars, or three Michelin star holder Sébastien Riou have had to close down in 2022 and beginning 2023. “We are paying the bill of Covid now”, explains the latter. The Copenhagen-based establishment Noma, considered as the best restaurant in the world, also announced its upcoming closing, scheduled for 2024. Is high gastronomy doomed? Establishments have been affected by the pandemic as of 2020, as well as by inflation. In France for example, these phenomena had caused a dramatic 25% decrease in attendance by the end of 2021, to which was added an increase in raw material and energy costs in 2022. The current staff shortage in the sector is not helping either.

Figures from the Fiducial Observatory for 2022 indicate an 8% increase in the number of visitors to semi-gastronomic restaurants (Joia Bun)

However, since 2022, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has recorded a general increase in the global catering market which is foreseen to reach the impressive figure of 4.1 trillion dollars by 2026, with an annual growth of 5.4%. An average figure already surpassed in 2022 with a global turnover of about 890 billion dollars, which might reach 997 billion dollars in 2023. In this milestone context with the sector at a crossroads, readapting the offer has become crucial.



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Playing different fields: snacking to the rescue

The starred chef Michel Sarran has opened a restaurant exclusively dedicated to croque-monsieur of all kinds, the Croq'Michel (Michel Sarran)

To diversify their client base, many chefs have imagined new concepts parallel to their high-end establishments: a second more affordable concept, sometimes surfing on the trend of snacking, which often focuses on a younger clientele, but always endorsed by the starred chef’s signature. A winning bet according to the Observatoire Fiducial’s figures for 2022, which show an increase by 8% of semi-gastronomic restaurant attendance this year. Starred for his eponymous restaurant in Toulouse, chef Michel Sarran embarked in this direction in 2021, when opening his Croq’Michel: a restaurant exclusively dedicated to all types of croque-monsieurs. High-end snacking with gourmet products, which attracts the chef’s followers, who tend to be seduced by the idea of getting a brief taste of the world of high gastronomy. The full menu at Croq’Michel is under 20 euros, while menus in his Toulouse-based fine dining restaurant start at 75 euros. Moreover, knowing that the chef was stripped of his second Michelin star last March, one can wonder if circumstances aren’t currently calling for a return to pleasure cuisine, rather than maintaining a judgment cuisine at all costs.

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