French chefs in Britain have described the food in France as "traditional", the chefs as "small-minded" and believe their homeland has lost its title of gastronomic nation of the world to Spain.
Their criticisms followed the publication of a report in the New York Times last week which declared that Spanish cooking was better than French in terms of culinary excellence and innovation. It said French cooking hadn't changed for 20 years, and although good in parts, was mostly stuck in time.
The food served in Spanish restaurants, on the other hand, was described as "all flash and dazzle". Ferran Adrià, the chef at El Bulli restaurant near Barcelona is, for example, frequently hailed as the most inspirational chef in the world.
Claude Bosi, chef and owner of the 30-seat Michelin-starred Hibiscus restaurant in Ludlow, Shropshire, agreed. He said: "In France the chefs are really small-minded and they stick with what they know, but in Spain they're more adventurous.
"Hopefully French chefs will wake up. They've always waved the flag but not any more."
Eric Chavot, executive chef at the 40-seat restaurant at the Capital hotel in London, said: "Food in Spain is better than that in France. I'm French but I can live with it."
Sam Clark, owner of the 80-seat Spanish/Moorish restaurant Moro in Exmouth Market, London, added: "There's a big new wave of modern cooking in Spain that's very inventive and stylistic and there are definitely chefs out there who can contend with French haute cuisine."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 11 - 17 September 2003