September 24, 2009 / 2:11 PM / in 8 years

NYC festival aims to show French food has bite

<p>Baguettes (French stick), bread made with organic flour, are displayed in a baker's oven at a bakery in Paris July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Alexandre Cammas hopes that the 2,000 New Yorkers who will attend his two-day culinary festival will find that French food is fun and edgy.

Le Fooding D‘Amour Paris-New York arrives in New York just as the recession has forced some of the city’s venerable, high-end French restaurants, including the 92-year-old Cafe des Artistes, to close its doors.

Cammas believes their demise reflects the global trend toward more casual dining, even in France -- arguably the birthplace of serious high end cuisine.

“It’s a representation of what’s happening now,” the 38-year-old food writer who co-founded Le Fooding, a loose combination of the words food and feeling, explained.

“The financial crisis accelerated the trend that began almost 10 years,” he added.

In France, Le Fooding events are sprawling, urban picnics where people can sit on the ground and drink from paper cups, instead of at tables with starched linens and crystal glasses.

The U.S. debut of Le Fooding , which will raise funds to fight global hunger, takes place on Friday and Saturday at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in the borough of Queens, across the East River from Manhattan.

The $60 tickets, which were sold on the web by leading consumers to one website to get a password to buy tickets on another site, are as much as six times cheaper than the glitzier food festivals.

“It’s a celebration of eating, not the chefs,” Cammas said in an interview.

But there will be no shortage of culinary star power. Top American chefs like David Chang and Wylie Dufresne will cook along side their Parisian counterparts such as Yves Camdeborde and William LeDeuil.

In addition to chefs, Cammas has lined up DJs, mixologists, graphic designers, even butchers.

“Here it will be a party with the chefs,” said Cammas, who spent the summer with his wife and children in New York to organize the event.

If Americans miss Le Fooding’s loftier culinary aspiration, that’s fine with Cammas.

“Relax, it’s just food,” he said.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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