Foodie Chap: Cafe de la Presse, San Francisco
By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Laurent Manrique discovered his culinary passion during childhood while cooking with his grandmother Aurélie in the Gascon village of Roques. Following an apprenticeship several years later with master chef Roger Duffour, Manrique trained with master chefs Claude Deligne and Yan Jacquot at Michelin-starred Taillevent and Toit de Passy in Paris.
Following a suggestion to move to United States, Manrique pursued his culinary career at Los Angeles Italian restaurant Rex. Persuaded by restaurateur Jean Denoyer to join Manhattan’s Le Comptoir as executive chef, he relocated to the East Coast in 1991.
“Cooking to me is an extension of my emotion.
If it is an angry day it will be a spicy food.
If it is a lovely day I will serve up some sweet dishes.”
– Laurent Manrique; Chef/Owner
Then in 1992 at the age of 26, Manrique took over as chef at the Waldorf Astoria’s Peacock Alley. After a five year relationship with the restaurant, Manrique joined with nightlife mogul Howard Stein to open Gertrudes in 1997. This furthered his popularity, and the following year he earned the Bon Appétit’s Rising Star Chef Award.
Shortly thereafter the West Coast beckoned, and Manrique returned to join San Francisco’s Campton Palace restaurant as Executive Chef, where he received rave reviews.
In 2003, Manrique was named Corporate Executive Chef for Aqua. Manrique’s cuisine and leadership were to play a significant role in the restaurant’s extraordinary success in San Francisco, including two Michelin stars in 2007, which he upheld for three consecutive years. Meanwhile, he opened Cafe de la Presse and Rouge & Blance Wine Bar, which remain some of San Francisco’s most popular dining venues.
In 2007, Manrique united with friend and colleague Christopher Condy, to form a unique joint venture, resulting in the creation of C&L partners, a restaurant development, operating and investment company. Laurent helped guide C&L through the reopening of the Fifth Floor restaurant at the Palomar Hotel for the Kimpton Group in 2008, followed by the
grand opening of the Urban Tavern at the San Francisco Hilton. Both have made additional impacts on the San Francisco dining scene. In July 2009 Manrique resigned from the company, and the Aqua restaurant, due to difficulties arising from a feud among Condy’s heirs and was replaced by Jason Pringle in September 2009.
Manrique and Condy have teamed up with Meredith Gelacek, former Hilton Hotels Vice President of Food & Beverage, and Peter Chase, former Vice President of Bars for Ian Schrager Hotels, to form Collective Hospitality. Together the group opened Millesime in November 2010, a casual seafood brasserie in New York City’s Carlton Hotel. The restaurant quickly earned high praise including a two-star review from the New York Times, and a two-and-a-half-star review from the New York Post.
Philanthropy and community is another important chapter in the Laurent Manrique story. The charity most dear to him is the Tibetan Aid Project, an organization dedicated to rebuilding and protecting the endangered spiritual heritage of Tibet. Founded in 1969, the Tibetan Aid Project helps Tibetans rebuild, preserve, and strengthen their cultural and spiritual heritage for the benefit of all humanity.
Chef Laurent and I are working together on the November 18th Fundraiser TASTE AND TRIBUTE in San Francisco. While Laurent overseas his army of talented chefs I will be the EMCEE for the evening of food and fundraising.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Laurent Manrique
1. What are your words to live by in the kitchen?
I think respect. Respect for the product, respect for the people that you work with and respect for the people you are serving to.
2. If it were midnight and we were to go to your fridge what will we always find?
I think you would find some cheese, a bottle of wine, white wine, not champagne and some chocolate peanut butter.
3. If not a chef and you were to come back in a second life, what might you be?
Someone who works with fragrances. I love perfumes. I’m a big fan of perfume. I have at least a hundred bottles. Perfume for women or for men; that’s my passion.
4. If you could pick a song or two to be in the soundtrack to your culinary journey, what would they be?
That’s so complicated, because I love music. From Annie Lennox, to Joan Baez, Sting, James Taylor. One of the recent ones I like was by Joan Baez called “Sweeter for Me.” It’s a beautiful song.
5. At your last supper, you can have a few guests from the past or present, who would they be and what would you eat?
My wife, my children, family, my close, close friends and if I had a chance to have him at my table it would be the Dalai Lama. He is someone that I respect tremendously. I would eat a beautiful butter leaf salad and roasted chicken. I would make sure everyone was eating with their fingers; no forks, no knives.
Liam: Five tasty answers, mercí Chef!
Wild King Salmon with Grenobloise Sauce
1 cup unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into very small florets
½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon minced shallots
½ cup heavy cream
2½ cups diced sourdough bread, crusts removed 4 tablespoon capers, rinsed
4 tablespoons diced lemon segments
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, cut into thin strips
1½ pounds skinless wild King salmon fillet, cut into 8 equal pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Once the butter has melted, add the cauliflower. Swirl the pan to coat the cauliflower, and carefully turn the florets with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for 6 minutes. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves and cook until the cauliflower is light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the Champagne vinegar and the wine to the pan and reduce until the pan is almost dry, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, raisins and shallots and reduce about 3 more minutes. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set the cauliflower ragoût aside.
Melt the remaining ½ cup of butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat and cook until the butter turns golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the bread and sauté until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the capers and the lemon segments and immediately remove from the heat. Add the sherry vinegar and the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the Sauce Grenobloise aside.
Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan over low heat. When the oil is just warm, 1 to 2 minutes, add the salmon and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until the fish is medium rare, 1 to 3 minutes more.
To complete: Place 2 pieces of salmon on each plate. Spoon the cauliflower ragoût in between the salmon, spoon the Sauce Grenobloise over the fish and serve immediately.
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