Foody Guide

Discover our 2019 Foody Guide!

This year we have decided to promote French-American businesses in the food and wine industry through a Foody Guide that we have created to highlight and showcase our members in this area specifically. This culinary pamphlet is directed towards not only the newcomers in the Bay Area, but also to the locals, businesses or individuals, to inspire and ignite new business opportunities. Read on to discover more!

 

Special Interview
Chef Roland Passot
Owner of La Folie
 

 
 

How did you start your career?
I was working in France in a restaurant owned by Pierre Orsi in Lyon. He had just come back from the US. I was not a chef, I was just 18 but he still gave me a chance and sent me to the US a few months later to his friend’s restaurant. It was really an adventure, I didn’t speak English at the time. In May 1976, I thought I was going there for a year, but I never came back. I was amazed by the huge buildings, the Cadillacs… at the time there was a good community of French chefs in Chicago.
 
What was the food ecosystem like at the time?
The ecosystem at the time? It just didn’t exist. I tasted my first American strawberries and raspberries, they had no taste. There were no green beans, you had to get fish and foie gras all the way from Rungis… The lamb came from Colorado, the veal from Chicago and Wisconsin, and the lobster from Maine. Then suddenly in the 1980s, there was an explosion of American chefs who pushed for local cuisine, the farm to table model. Some people think it was only a trend, but it did better the ecosystem and helped develop Californian cuisine, then spreading to all the US, for example in Texas, where American chefs worked on a southwestern cuisine with local products.
 
During this time, I was still cooking with a French cuisine, but I started to realize this movement of local farmers was here to stay. Suddenly, lettuce, beans, strawberries, mustard, chive, tarragon could be found everywhere instead of being a rarity.
 
How do you see the role of Chefs today?
Chefs and farmers are responsible for their social an environmental impact. They need to favor local products, responsible fishing, they must realize where their products are coming from so they are fresh and sustainable. The marine ecosystems are disappearing, so we need to buy products we are sure are fair. Most chefs try to follow demand, and it empties the seas. Chefs can make people discover things they are not used to seeing on menus, such as razor clams or black cod, without overusing them. The goal is to promote diversity. Since the 1980s, restaurants have also started serving smaller portions. Getting only what you need in your plate is a good way to reduce waste.
I think that we should go back to more traditional cuisine techniques. Cooking “sous vide” for example, is very interesting but uses non-recyclable plastic. Why not explore again traditional techniques, such as pickling, brining, curing or using cast-iron pans?
 
Composting did not exist 20 years ago, it only came recently and is making a change in the whole industry, from chefs to waiters. Compost, separating waste, buying only the produce we need… as chefs, we are responsible for our environmental and social impact. In our restaurants, with our employees, in cooking classes, we must learn ourselves and be trailblazers and mentors for the next generation. It is important that we get into this all together. We also need to encourage artisanship. We are losing small businesses, restaurants, and a lot of San Francisco’s soul to tech, when we should protect this traditional savoir-faire.
  
What is new for you?
For my part, I am opening a new restaurant, Meso, in San Jose, with our grand opening on November 4th. My Executive Chef Gregory Short and Pastry Chef Eva Wong will accompany me to make Meso the coming together of culinary influences from across the Mediterranean Sea, from Italian and French, to Persian, Greek and Middle Eastern. We want to bring people together to reinvigorate connection, conversation, and community. It is a whole new adventure!

Thank you Chef Passot!

 
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