Michel Guérard no longer needs any introduction. Since the passing of Paul Bocuse, he and Pierre Troisgros are the last remaining activists of the great revolution of French chefs. At a lively 86 years of age, he remains a determined campaigner for healthy cuisine that could change the world.
“In 1810, a Frenchman by the name of Brillat-Savarin, who was a lawyer and celebrated gastronome, railed against bad ingredients and bad cooks, proclaiming that ‘the destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they nourish themselves.’ It was such a leading-edge way of thinking!” Guérard – an avid reader and a great scholar, eager to learn about everything and everyone – enjoys telling stories that show there is nothing new under the sun and that, alas, things haven’t changed much. This man, who invented cuisine minceur (low-calorie cuisine) and cuisine santé (healthy cuisine) for those taking the waters at the Landes spa where he earned his three stars, feels his convictions have not been adequately embraced. “When it comes to eating, we’re putting out fires instead of preventing them,” he laments. “I’ve been in regular contact with members of the successive French governments, with the Ministries of Health and National Education, but I’ve been turned down point-blank.” And this despite the fact that the light, contemporary dishes he’s been concocting for six decades would be a solution to many public-health problems and could save tremendous amounts of money. “It’s an intriguing challenge,” he muses. “It would be wonderful if we were the first to do it – it would be a good way to get people talking about French cuisine again.” This great man is optimistic by nature, never giving up the fight. “All my life, I’ve made sure I’m never short of dreams, so I keep dreaming and believing that, someday, it will happen.”