Interview: Le Grand Fooding Comes to Brooklyn


We’ve all heard of the Michelin Guide, known for snootily handing out stars to the crème de la crème of French restaurants, and claiming to employ the most knowledgeable restaurant critics in the gastronomic world. Then along came Alexandre Cammas, with his ideas about eating “with feeling,” which evolved into a term he called “fooding.” His Le Fooding guide, available in France in print, online, and even on the iPhone, became the common man’s guide to eating well, which, for Cammas, is more about the experience—the je ne sais quoi.

According to Cammas, right now that experience can be found in Brooklyn, with our up-and-coming young chefs. His five-day Le Grand Fooding Brooklyn event takes place in venues tres chic throughout our borough: champagne “dinner-performances” at four eateries; cinema brunch at Nitehawk with Brooklyn-centric flicks; a lunch tasting menu at the Brooklyn Flea; and le grand finale, a Campfire Session bringing together Mos Def, Mike D, Miike Snow, and some damn good food and Jamison drinks. Alessia Rizzetto from Le Fooding answers some of our questions.

So how does Le Fooding work? It’s kind of abstract.
Yes, it’s a movement, it’s a philosophy mainly. It was started 12 years ago, Alexandre Cammas was 27, he was a gastronomic journalist and he got bored of food. And so by chance, to rhyme with feeling, he wrote the word “fooding.” And then people started to use it, but mostly people who didn’t know what it meant. At the time he was the curator of a guide called “Eating and Drinking with Feeling,” which was transformed into “Eating and Drinking with Fooding,” and then became an autonomous guide. It’s a fresh alternative to the Michelin.

And it’s not just French restaurants, right?
No, you can find pizza restaurants, any kind of restaurants—what it has to do with is making you feel a feeling or emotion, so when you walk out of it you think why you would go back. Each event, each time we are telling a different story. So last year was Exquisite Corpse, we had non-stop dinners from 9 am on, in Chelsea in September. [The event was 52 hours of continuous service with 13 sittings and 14 chefs.] We take the time proposing each event — we think about what’s going on in each city.

Why Brooklyn out of everywhere else?
This year we are paying a tribute to Brooklyn. In many cities of the world, in London, Paris—a lot of the artists and chefs are emerging with great ideas in neighborhoods that were once considered unfashionable or maybe risky. And so the outskirts of the city is bringing new life and fresh air. This is a neighborhood where emerging chefs and artists are coming and growing. You see their talents, everyone keeps an eye on what they are doing. And they don’t have restraints, they’re not too much into rules—they just express themselves.

And that’s more specific to Brooklyn you think than Manhattan?
Yes, these are the new type of restaurants, all of them from Brooklyn. We are going to Vinegar Hill House and Maimonide of Brooklyn and other great ones. We go to the chefs and we propose a tour to show people what’s going on, and not only in Brooklyn but also with the international chefs. Brian Leth from Vinegar Hill will cook with the guys from Animal in LA. The chefs from Maimonide will cook with Daniel Rose from Spring in Paris. They have the same mind and the same spirit, not the same city, but we gather around and we tell a story.

So who comes up with all these events?
Alexandre Cammas. At the beginning they were small events and he started creating them in France, then he saw this community of followers who enjoyed food, but weren’t food geeks, but who enjoyed food as a whole. It could not expand too much in France, so he said why don’t we find followers from others cities. He moved all around from France, to New York for the first time 4 years ago. The first New York event was a friendly battle between the chefs in New York and San Francisco, they prepared plates of pizza and there were DJs from New York.

Is the idea that music and art can make the food more enjoyable?
The food is enjoyable on its own, but since you don’t see with your mouth, it’s nice when you go in a place and you feel a general pleasure sensation, to please all your senses. It’s nice to have different inputs, because if something is extremely good but it’s not a nice atmosphere you wouldn’t appreciate it.

What event do you think is going to draw the most people?
The Flea market—everybody loves to come see the local vendors of clothes, of vintage things, and in the middle of this we have great food. I think also the Campfire Session, the last one, will be a great success because it’s music, it’s local vendors, so people love them, and the most curious people will be happy to taste the difference in the plates they’re used to, since the chefs come from everywhere.

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