By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Chef Roland Passot began his culinary career at the tender age of fifteen in France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon. Traditionally trained by some of the most famous chefs in France, he began as an apprentice before working his way up to the position of assistant Sous-chef under Chef Paul Lacombe.
At age 20, Passot spent four years in Chicago. In 1981, he became the opening chef at French Room at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. While at the French Room, Passot received national accolades and prepared dinners for celebrities and royalty from around the world including Prince Charles and Bob Hope. Following his heart to San Francisco, Passot became the chef at Chez Michel, but it was not meant to be; the restaurant closed soon after he arrived.
Cooking to me is happiness and transferring that to my guests, my family, my friends.”
– Chef Roland Passot
Passot, with his wife Jamie opened La Folie in March of 1988. Through his rigorous French training and several positions in the Midwest, Southwest and in San Francisco, Passot had developed his personal style of cooking, in which he showcases at La Folie. He was named James Beard Best Chef, California 2005, 2006 and 2007. A visit to La Folie is a special experience on any night. Chef Roland is in the kitchen almost every night, his brother George on the floor as Sommelier. It is a family affair. In April 2009 La Folie celebrated 21 years with the opening of La Folie Lounge, located next door to the restaurant. An amuse bouche if you will to the main dining room next door.
In 1994, Passot teamed up with Edward N. Levine, CEO of Vine Dining Enterprises, Inc. and President of Vine Solutions to develop and open Left Bank in Larkspur, followed by 4 others throughout the Bay Area. These 200 seat brasseries feature “Cuisine Grand-mere,” Passot’s version of French home-style cooking.
Chef Passot’s commitment to his métier is reflected locally with his October 2000 induction into the California Culinary Academy’s Chef Stars Walk of Fame. However his June 2001 awarding of Chevalier dans l’Ordre du Mèrite Agricole is perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments, as this is an official French Governmental recognition of his genuine contribution to his native country and the value of his craft. He also donates his time and talent to his favorite charities including Make-a-wish, Meals on Wheels, SF Food Bank and the James Beard Foundation.
From the moment I first met Chef Roland in 2001 for a TV segment for KRON4 I fell in love with his food, his wife Jamie and their combined Joie de vive. We were at their home in Larkspur recently for our Foodie Chap interview. We discussed Chef’s amazing culinary journey and his upcoming appearance at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show (March 23rd – 27th 2011).
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Roland Passot
1. What is your earliest food memory?
A long time ago, I think I was 8 or 9 years old, I was in a garden of the grandfathers. He had a huge garden, and every morning we’d get up at 6 o’clock and by 8 o’clock we’d have an early breakfast that consisted of pig ears, pig tails and pig lard just boiled in water until it was very soft with a little bit of mustard and a little fleur de sel and that was breakfast.
2. What will we always find in your fridge?
A bottle of champagne, and of course cheese; a lot of cheeses.
3. What chefs were the biggest influence on you in your early career?
I think, Paul Bocuse, and of course Jean Banchet in America.
4. What do you love most about being in the kitchen?
When I’m in a kitchen I feel like I’m a kid still cooking and at the end of the day I see the smiles of customers, so it’s great. I love to make people happy and I love to be happy myself and cooking makese me happy. So, happiness is in the kitchen!
5. What would be your last supper chef?
My last supper I’m going to splurge. I’m going to have the best bottle of champagne, caviar, you know because it’s my last supper afterall. Then I’ll probably have a great bottle of 1955 Le Tache Romanee Conti and with that probably a big ostrich ribeye, because I like meat and then I’ll have some cheeses.
LM: Five tasty answers. Thank you my friend.
Roasted Emigh Farms Lamb
With Butter Beans and Chorizo with Taggiasca Olive Lamb Jus
10 lbs lamb bones
1 ½ c shallots, chopped
1 garlic head, split
1 ½ q white wine
4 q veal stock
1 bunch of thyme
Roast lamb bones in a pot till they are dark golden brown. Drain majority of fat from pan then add in shallots, garlic, and thyme.
Cook until shallots are roasted but not burnt, then add you white wine.
Cook for about 10 minutes or until alcohol is cooked out of wine
Add veal stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
Cook for 2 hours or until meat is falling off of bones
Skim fat and impurities while cooking
Strain and reduce to desired consistency
10 lbs lamb tongue
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 garlic head, chopped
2 q white wine
2 ½ q chicken stock
1 bunch of thyme
8 g instacure
Sweat onions, carrots, and garlic until soft, add in white wine and instacure
Cook until alcohol is cooked off
Add chicken stock and lamb tongue
Liquid should cover tongues, if not add more chicken stock
Simmer for 2 ½-3 hours or until the membrane on the tongue is easy to peel off
Pull off of heat and let cool down until it is easy enough to handle with hands
Remove tongue from liquid, remove membrane, and then cool down and store tongues in cooking liquid
4 parsnips, chopped
2 c milk
2 c cream
Salt to taste
Put parsnips into pot, add liquid
Liquid should cover parsnips, if not add a little bit more milk
Simmer parsnips until they are cooked through
Puree and strain through a fine mesh strainer
Season with salt and cool down
2 q butter beans, soaked in water overnight
1 q chorizo scrap
1 garlic head split
2 bunches of savory
1 c olive oil
4 q chicken stock
½ c sherry vinegar
Wrap the vegetables in one sachet and then the chorizo scrap in another
Sweat the two sachets in the olive oil using a large pot
Add in beans, chicken stock, and sherry.
Bring to a slow, slow simmer and cook for 3 hours or until beans are just tender
Pour beans into a hotel pan and discard the two sachets
Create another sachet with the savory and add it to the beans
Chill down the beans
½ c butter beans with cooking liquid
½ lamb tongue, sliced
1 t butter
1 t chorizo, dice
¼ c cooking greens (optional)
1 lamb chop
1 t lamb jus
1 t taggiasca olives
1 t parnsip puree
Season lamb with salt and pepper
Sear all sides and then cook in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, cook until mid-rare
In a sauté pan combine beans, tongue, chorizo, and butter
Cook until liquid is reduced and everything is glazed add in greens and cook until tender
Warm puree and heat up jus with olives inside
On a hot plate put a line of puree down, the ragout in the middle of plate.
Slice lamb and lay on ragout. Sauce around the lamb
La Folie – www.lafolie.com
For more information on the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show visit – www.sfgardenshow.com
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)