From France, a Lesson in Loving Food
THE French take haute cuisine seriously. So the organization Le Fooding caused a stir in 2000 when it began celebrating a casual and egalitarian attitude toward eating, holding huge picnics in French cities, with bistro chefs serving food that people ate with their hands and wine that they drank out of plastic cups.
NOTHING FANCY An event held by Le Fooding at Le Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Le Fooding might not seem so revolutionary in the United States, where fine dining is already less than sacrosanct. But at the group’s first American event, a benefit scheduled for September at the museum P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Queens, New Yorkers will have a chance to taste the cooking of a new generation of Parisian bistro chefs.
Alexandre Cammas, one of the founders of the organization, said the name, which he coined in 1999, is a combination of food and feeling, the opposite of the rigid standards usually applied to gastronomy.
“We want to shake things up and make French food sexy again,” said Mr. Cammas, who is in New York for several months.
The Fooding formula, with thousands lining up to get food from chefs cooking for charity, has been entrenched in New York for a couple of decades. But it’s much less common in other countries.
Le Fooding-New York, on Sept. 25 and 26 from 7 to 10 p.m., will support Action Against Hunger, the international charity that is the beneficiary of the French events. Tickets will cost $30, with 1,000 people expected each night. They will be fed by six different chefs, from Paris and New York, each evening.
Despite its democratic agenda, the group plans to offer a V.I.P. ticket for admission at 6 p.m., at a higher price to be determined, an idea Mr. Cammas said he got after speaking with potential sponsors and chefs in New York.
Drinks will be sold, but not “at nightclub prices,” Mr. Cammas said.
Le Fooding events often have live music, although it has not yet been worked out what entertainment there will be at P.S. 1.
While the group cares little for restaurant décor, it puts a great deal of effort into the graphic design of the programs. Several New Yorker cover artists will take part in the Queens event.
The French chefs who will cook are not international stars but instead members of a younger generation, who have turned their backs on haute cuisine, and whose kitchens are on the hot bistro circuit, like Yves Camdeborde, who founded La Régalade and now owns Le Comptoir du Relais.
Those who have signed on to come to New York include Mr. Camdeborde, William Ledeuil of Ze Kitchen Galerie, Alberto Herraiz of Fogón, Stéphane Jégo of Chez l’Ami Jean, Christophe Pelé of La Bigarrade and Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand, all in Paris.
And though Mr. Cammas insists the group is not interested in “stars,” New York will be represented by high-profile chefs including Daniel Boulud, April Bloomfield, David Chang and Wylie Dufresne, among others.
Le Fooding, whose full name is Le Fooding d’Amour because that makes it “sound very French,” as Mr. Cammas put it, publishes a guide to 800 restaurants in France. But the group has no plans to put out a guide here.
“You already have plenty of those,” he said.