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The Endangered Art of French Hospitality

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In 2010, UNESCO declared “The gastronomic meal of the French” an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The meal, an elaborate celebration of good taste and togetherness, is often described as a ritual: the choosing of the aperitif, the four courses paired with impeccable wines, the desserts, the liqueurs, and the service is an art in itself. Just as important is the awareness that everyone at the table has come together to celebrate one occasion and to experience the same sensations over a common meal. In this lecture, Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer will discuss how the gastronomic meal of the French has evolved over the centuries and how something as fundamental as eating in the company of others has come to be labeled “a cultural practice in urgent need of safeguarding.”

In an age of smart-phones, fast food, and eating on-the-go, UNESCO has emphasized this communal meal as an important source of personal contact in a virtual age and an opportunity to use natural products, thoughtfully chosen. The task of preserving these customs is left to gastronomes, culinary historians, and instructors like Chef Pfeiffer, who must continue to pass on their knowledge and show, through example, the cultural value of preserving the art of entertaining.

In 1995, after an already successful career in pastry, Jacquy Pfeiffer along with Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F., founded The French Pastry School where their entire team is devoted to imparting excellence to future pastry professionals. Today, The French Pastry School is considered one of the leading pastry institutions in the world, and Chef Pfeiffer continues to gain accolades for the school and his personal achievements. In 2003, he was inducted into the Académie Culinaire de France. In 2011, after being featured in the documentary Kings of Pastry, Chef Pfeiffer was inducted into the Pastry Hall of Fame by Dessert Professional magazine. His most recent accomplishment was coaching the winning team of 2011’s National Pastry Team Championship, a role he will continue this year as the team prepares for the 2012 World Pastry Champioships. Jacquy Pfeiffer is the Academic Dean for Student Affairs at The French Pastry School and sits on the boards of For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation and Pastry Chicago.

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