The term “modern American cuisine” is often stretched to include a panoply of cooking styles and restaurant concepts, but in its narrowest sense it connotes the fusion of traditional European and Asian classic cooking techniques with a stress on high quality, fresh, locally produced, in-season, often organic and healthful foods. One of the pioneers of this style of food preparation and presentation was Alice Waters, who in 1971 founded the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.
Modern American cuisine is popular, and hence has spawned many imitators; the best chefs combine crusade-like ingredient activism—supporting local artisanal producers and farms, for example—with a top-level handle on cooking techniques and presentation. It is unfortunately possible to find mediocre, “try-too-hard” examples of this cuisine all over the United States, often in over-priced venues. The simplicity inherent in modern American cuisine is not always easy to obtain. The innovators and dedicated local chefs produce modern American cuisine with imagination and consummate skill; the casual bar/restaurant or hotel dining room that jumps onto this bandwagon often produces little more than a meaningless mash on an over-garnished plate. Whether done properly or not, modern American cuisine tends to be expensive.
Though the United States expresses its culinary culture in many types of regional and ethnic cuisines, there are certain foods that can be found on family dinner tables and restaurants in every region of the country; these dishes make up what may be called standard or classic American cuisine. They tend to be hearty, filling, and simple. It may be a joy to sample these dishes at the table or restaurant of a fine cook; it may be a chore to attempt to navigate these same dishes if they are not lovingly prepared.
The classic heavy American breakfast: eggs (fried, scrambled, poached, or fancy variations like eggs benedict), bacon, sausage or ham, corned beef hash, home-fried or hash brown potatoes, pancakes or waffles (in maple syrup).
The lighter American breakfast: cold cereal (corn flakes, oat flakes, granola, or sweetened children’s cereal) or hot cereal (oatmeal, cream of wheat), cottage cheese.
With either breakfast: muffins, toast, orange juice, coffee or tea.