Near Nice, they are testing canteen meals for thousands of students in France

Fifty children from Marie Curie’s school, in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, near Nice, tested recipes served to them in the canteen to hundreds of thousands of other students in France. (© Elior Group)

” that it dung your thing! “Usually, if a child does not like a recipe, Sylvain Chevalier knows it very quickly,” he says with this sentence told to him by a schoolboy. This is exactly why the head of culinary innovation for the Elior group, which specializes in group catering, has 50 children Mandelieu-La Napoule, near Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), various recipes in the canteen.

On Wednesday, November 23, 2022, these 50 guinea pigs from the Marie Curie School From 6 to 8 yearsPut on your chef’s hat and judge six recipes you’ve “never tried” before. And if they like it, they will be presented to hundreds of thousands of students in France.

Litmus test with children

“We’ve been preparing them since yesterday, we’ve weighed, we’ve measured, we’ve failed … But everything is ready and validated by the chefs,” says Sylvain Chevalier. good newsa few minutes before going to the table … and to the treadmill.

Children know nothing until they taste the daily menu: neither the ingredients nor the names of the dishes. And for each of the recipes, they must complete a questionnaire that they developed themselves.

If you get a recipe 70% Yes, then they will be served in Elior canteens. Thus the go-ahead is given to cook these recipes in other canteens depending on the Mandelieu central kitchen. either with more than 350,000 children.

on the canteen menu

But then, did the group choose to serve pizza or french fries to guarantee an explicit and big “yes”? both. Sylvain Chevalier dares to utter this frightening word to children. Because yes, they will eat “veggies, vegetables and more veggies”!

Proof of this on Wednesdays is the display of color and botanicals on their plates. Without being sprouts or Brussels sprouts: “I’ve been off for a while.” Come on, here is the list that will make you drool.

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  • Carrot gratin with tomato, emmental cheese and red curry
  • Meatballs with cheese crusts
  • Fish with provencal sauce
  • Christmas sauce with gingerbread, turnips, carrots and leeks
  • Chocolate cream
  • Wheat flour cake with semolina couscous

Secrets and recipes of the day

The head of culinary innovation says every recipe contains no artificial coloring or powder. He reveals a few details: “The fish is oven-baked at 100°C to maintain its softness. For the carrot gratin, I wanted to serve it cold, but it ended up hot. The Provençal sauce is vegetables, rice flour with thyme, fresh bay leaf, and pepper.” The fresh red that gives it a great color.”

The chocolate icing is made with only cream, milk and chocolate “and that’s it”, and the cake is “crunchy on top, it’s something completely new”.


Cardboard dumpling. But the rest is a little lower. “As expected, the dish based on plant proteins and gingerbread was a little appreciated, but the chef will be recreating them for a new guest test in 2023.” This is what Sylvain Chevalier defines: the children give feedback and the chefs adapt.

“The fish dish with pepper sauce had mixed reactions, as did the desserts, although we got very good reactions from some of the children.”

More than a hundred recipes are tested annually

Of course, the goal of having kids taste recipes firsthand is also to avoid waste. Sylvain Chevalier used to visit the central kitchens and then the school canteens to test recipes. “And we are developing more than a hundred in the year,” he reveals, having recently passed through Bordeaux and Perpignan.

Knowing that his visit to Mandelieu is the last test he takes this year. “We need a year to develop the recipes,” he says. Prepared with local chefs, the kids are the ones to decide. And with them “make … or break.”

In 2023, in addition to children, parents will taste canteen recipes

In 2023, he will start traveling on the roads of France again to meet schoolchildren, but with something new, Sylvain Chevalier announced to Nice News. “This time, parents will also be able to sample recipes with their children.”

why ? “They wonder. They often tell us that their children don’t remember what they eat in the canteen or that we always eat badly in the canteen. I want parents to be aware of the work we do at Elior.”

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