Top chefs fighting credit crunch with creativity

Thu Feb 5, 2009 11:27am EST
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Kitchen creativity is a better way to beat the credit crunch in the restaurant industry than cutting costs with cheaper ingredients, top chefs say.

Chefs from around the world at the Milan Identita Golose (greedy identities) forum, where cheese ice cream and cappuccino macaroons are among the dishes on offer, said this week that the recipe for a recession-busting business is: do what you do best.

"I'm going ahead like before, my creativity is going ahead like before," Italy's Moreno Cedroni, who opened his restaurant near Ancona on the Adriatic coast 25 years ago, said.

"I research products just like I did before. It's not that I'm not worried about needing to use an ingredient that is less or more expensive, we are always trying to make good dishes."

As wallets tighten, restaurant owners said they noticed customers were consuming less, but that does not mean they are foregoing quality.

"Maybe if before they had several different glasses of wine during a meal, now they will have only two but they are the best," Spanish chef Quique Dacosta said.

While no one expects top restaurants to go out of business, families are seen reaching into their cupboards more instead of reaching for their phones to make reservations, experts say.

Tullio Galli, director of Italy's FIEPET federation of restaurants, cafes, pizzerias and ice cream parlours, said consumption fell some 10 percent in the second half of 2008, but the Christmas season had held up.   Continued...

<p>Waiter Yuta Asami works at Edelstein cafe in Tokyo January 29, 2008. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>