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Life in the USA: Modern American Cuisine

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By Life in the USA


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.


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