Haute vs. Nouvelle Cuisine

I’m not sure how to distinguish the two. I’ve checked Bon Appetit, etc., but it’s still not clear.

Are there similarities? Can you provide a couple of examples of each?

I always thought “Haute Cuisine” usually referred to Fancy Food, ie, expensive food prepared elaborately. IE, smoked venison loin with fois gras, truffle sauce, and vegetables carved into tiny delicate shapes.

Nouvelle Cuisine, on the other hand, was coined in the 1970’s when french chefs started lightening and brightening their recipes. For example, classic french techniques usually involve thickening a sauce with cheese, cream, butter, or flour. Sauces prepared in the Nouvelle Cuisine method may be reduced to thicken them, or thickened with some pureed vegetables. Nouvelle Cuisine also brought on the lightly cooked crunchy vegetables as opposed to Limp Broccoli swimming in cream and cheese.

Haute cuisine is basically ‘classic’ French cooking. Lots of butter, cream, painstakingly reduced sauces, elaborate cooking methods and presentation, and expensive ingredients like foie gras, etc.

Nouvelle cuisine emphasized lighter, simpler preparations and more down-to-earth ingredients (fresh vegetables, simple steamed or roasts meats and fish, etc.). What you see in most high-end restaurants these days is closer to nouvelle cuisine.

The current trend is also toward ultra-fresh, preferably local ingredients. This began with nouvelle cuisine and was popularized here by people like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse (hence the term “California cuisine.”)