French trade minister apologises for describing Xi Jinping’s state dinner as ‘revolting’

Trade Minister Nicole Bricq apologises for embarassing comments critical of state dinner prepared for China's premier Xi Jinping at the Elysee Palace in Paris during his official visit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 5:52pm

An embarassed French minister has apologised to the head chef at the Elysee Palace after she was caught on camera describing the food at a China-France state dinner as “revolting”.

Trade Minister Nicole Bricq was caught out after saying the meal served to China’s leader Xi Jinping at the state banquet on Wednesday night was not up to scratch, unaware that microphones were picking up her comments.

“At the Elysee, it wasn’t [up to scratch] at all ... it was revolting. It has to be said,” she was heard saying in a video clip posted online by BFMTV.

The menu at President Francois Hollande’s Elysee Palace on Wednesday night sounded impressive with foie gras truffle, roast poultry from southwestern France and Viennese mushrooms, as well as a chocolate and caramel desert accompanied by fine wines all on the table.

“The minister has called the head chef at the Elysee, Guillaume Gomez, this morning, to make her apologies,” said a source, adding that the cabinet secretary had taken a trip through the kitchens to assure staff that the French president has full confidence in the head chef and his team.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were supposed to enjoy the very best that French gastronomy has to offer on their three-day visit to France.

On the first leg of their trip, in Lyon, they were treated to sea bass with lobster sauce followed by hay and thyme-flavoured lamb cooked by a selection of France’s most celebrated chefs.

But Gomez appeared to defend his work, thanking those who had posted messages of support on his official Facebook page.

“Along with the squad, we will continue to do our job with the same passion and the same devotion,” he wrote.

One supporter wrote on his page that Bricq was “too spoilt”.

“In any case, next week she will be fired. It was her last dinner at the Elysee,” Charlye Mazet added, referring to the strong likelihood of a government reshuffle after the second round of local elections Sunday in which the ruling Socialists are expected to get trounced.



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