Where were you born?
I was born in the region of Alsace, France. It’s on the northeastern part of the country that borders Germany and Switzerland. I grew up on a farm and am the oldest of four children.
What was the first meal you ever learned to cook?
I started really early. I was always in the kitchen somehow with my mother. I started making the Sunday coffee cake and then one day my mother was away and we needed a cooked lunch for the rest of us. I then cooked a rabbit that we had in the refrigerator and made it with a mustard sauce. It came out pretty good. My father loved it and complimented me on it and told my mother. It it felt like a good start to me at the time. I was probably 11 years old or so.
Who inspired you when you were a boy?
My mother a lot and my uncle who owned a hotel restaurant. I feel like those two are my earliest mentors. I did my apprenticeship under my uncle for four years and then after graduation, I won the Best Apprentice Competition in France..
What is your favorite dish to cook?
It always goes back to memories and childhood I believe. So for me, I would say that it was a great sauerkraut with all the garnishes possible and a very nice Baekeoffe. Two great one -dish meals that remind me a lot of where I came from.
Our CEO, Liz Neumark lives by the mantra “Life happens around food”. What is your favorite story to share around the table?
Stories about growing up on the farm , usually. Making things with my grandfather, like schnapps, dried prunes or pork and making all the different sausages with the family. Christmas time ,when we used to make a lot of Christmas cookies with my mother and sell them all over the place. I used to make “Buche de Noel” all by myself from A to Z and sell them to people as well as foie gras terrines, so that I learned on my own the techniques and processes. In those days, they wouldn't let cooks touch the expensive products, only accomplished chefs were able to. Those are some of the stories that come to mind…
Tell me briefly about running an award-winning restaurant in NYC?
Running a successful restaurant is about passion for this business and the people that are part of it. It takes a great team to work cohesively together in a relentless way with the goal of making guests happy and giving them the best experience possible. When everything comes together, we are creating unforgettable memories.
What menu ideas would you suggest for 350 people for the SUNY College of Optometry Gala at the Plaza in March?
I would probably offer some sort of a foie gras terrine served with toasted brioche or a nice salad with either crab or lobster as an appetizer
As a main course , I would go with a very nicely braised spiced shortrib with spaetzli and endives or a black bass filet in a lemongrass broth with seasonal baby vegetables.
Dessert - a choice of something with chocolate and another one based on fruits and citrus that makes a refreshing composition.
What do you do for fun when you are not cooking?
Traveling, biking, hiking, and, of course, eating out..
If you could only cook with 5 ingredients what would they be?
Farm raised squab
What do you love about the Plaza and specifically New York?
The Plaza is really a beautiful hotel on one of the most Iconic corners of the world with great architecture and amazing history and right across from Central Park -, what’s better than that!
New York - I love the energy of the city and the way all the cultures come together. Each neighborhood has something unique to offer and ,of course, there is Broadway with its shows and some of the greatest museums in the world..