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Promoting French Cuisine in LA

Chefs Make Converts To French Cuisine

By JOSEPH HANANIA | Published: April 30, 1997

A Club Culinaire Francais program to introduce diners to the many varied French chefs of Los Angeles is also proving useful to the chefs, who are introducing new dimensions of their cuisine.

More than 60 diners were at Pascal's last week for the second ''Chefs a Table'' of the year. The program, now in its third year, lets diners regularly sit, eat and chat with the chefs. One highlight is a French picnic in rustic Topanga Canyon.

Jean Francois, chef at La Cachette, said that the chefs are introducing a lighter French cuisine, with much less butter and cream for the sauces. ''And this is how we publicize the change,'' he said.

The five-course meal at Pascal's consisted of marinated salmon with potato risotto, served with Sancerre Domaine de la Perriere 1995; seafood saucisse with crayfish sauce; roasted Maple Leaf Farm duck breast and duck confit in bordelaise sauce, served with Santenay-Commes Perrier Cru 1990; goat cheese salad Provencal, served with Merlot vin de pays Selection Gaston Lenotre, and pear tropezienne tart with rhubarb compote, served with Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.

At the end of each course, chefs switched tables as if playing musical chairs, which made a hit with the diners, who paid about $75 each for the experience.

Richard Roberts, 50, the owner of an auto parts store and a repeat customer, said he had come to learn cooking secrets. At the last event Mr. Roberts attended, he met Bruno Lopez, the executive chef at the Marina del Rey Ritz-Carlton, who invited him to come to the hotel to watch him prepare a dinner for 400.

Pascal Olhats, the president of the chef's group and owner of Pascal's, said many previous diners had begun eating at the restaurants of the chefs they had met. Mr. Francois said the events helped ''change the perception of French cuisine.''





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