Pasadena resident and Vertical Wine Bistro executive chef Laurent Quenioux is a semifinalist for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. He received the esteemed nod under the Best Chef: Pacific category for his restaurant Bistro LQ in Los Angeles.
Quenioux said he is honored by the recognition and glad to be in such good company among many great chefs. The Beard Awards are the most prestigious given to culinary professionals in the United States.
In our March/April issue, Quenioux talked with staff writer Claudia S. Palma about his culinary career and living in the Crown City.
As executive chef of your own restaurant, what made you want to take on another kitchen?Two things, well a few things, not in any specific order. I’ve been in Pasadena so many years. We have a great clientele (from the San Gabriel Valley) and a lot of them couldn’t come to our kitchen in Los Angeles. The opportunity was there for me not to be missed. Now I’m doing it in an environment like Vertical that is already established. We didn’t want to recreate Bistro LQ so everything is different here. The reputation is great, the wine list — they have accumulated such a great selection.Are there any new chefs or restaurants you’re excited about?I don’t go to too many restaurants. When I do, I like odd places. There’s Green Island on Atlantic Boulevard (in Monterey Park), the concept is pretty cool. I like a lot of ethnic restaurants. Le Saint Amour in Santa Monica is good — very traditional French cuisine. Rosemead is where I go shopping (for ingredients) — the spices, the cuts of beef are much better.What are your ideas for the future?I would love to take a year off and go to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I lived in Japan for three months, in Osaka. We really want to create a Bistro LQ in Paris. There are great restaurants in Paris but what we do is different. That’s toward the end of the year.
Read more of the interview with Quenioux, including the chef’s cassoulet recipe, below:
(Photos by Watchara Phomicinda / Staff)