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Monday, August 27, 2012

08/28 - Behind "The French Laundry" Doors - Chefs, Purveyors, Truffles and More

There is a magic to the world-renowned restaurant, The French Laundry, tucked unassumingly on a corner in the small Napa Valley town of Yountville, that few restaurants in the world have been able to emulate... not to mention its 3 Michelin Stars.  There is also 'finesse', 'refinement', 'excitement for the senses', and many other expressions that have been used to describe this unparalleled eatery. 

We have the great pleasure of hearing the story of Timothy Hollingsworth - who has risen through the ranks to become Chef de Cuisine and lead the kitchens - for a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to make this kitchen weave its magic.

From left: Tim Hollingsworth, Nicolas and Antoine admiring Australian Winter Truffles

Their purveyors are of primary importance to The French Laundry, as they rely on them to deliver the quality of ingredients that will match their skills and give their diners a meal to remember.  We meet one of those special people, Antoine Magnani, whose French sensibilities and experience led him to create Euvitis Delicacies providing truffles, mushrooms, vanilla and caviar to the Bay Area's finest restaurants.

We'll also talk to Antoine's friend and fellow expat Frenchman, Nicolas Ronin, who opened Bisou, a truly French Bistro in San Francisco, on all things truffle, from a French perspective!

Timothy Hollingsworth
Chef de Cuisine
The French Laundry

As Chef de Cuisine of The French Laundry, Timothy Hollingsworth leads the kitchen in the continued evolution of its world-renowned cuisine.

Hollingsworth exemplifies Chef Thomas Keller’s commitment to mentorship and personal development. His culinary career began in Placerville, CA, where he learned the fundamental techniques while working as a Sous Chef at a French restaurant, Zachary Jacques. Hollingsworth then accepted a commis position at The French Laundry in 2001, training under former Chefs de Cuisine Eric Ziebold and Corey Lee and internalizing the heritage of the restaurant’s cuisine. In 2004 Keller selected him as part of the core team that traveled to New York City in preparation for the opening of Per Se, Keller’s fine dining establishment in Manhattan. Upon Hollingsworth’s return to The French Laundry in 2005, he was promoted to Sous Chef, where he lent his enthusiasm and dedication to further communicate Keller’s philosophy and culinary vision.
In 2008, Hollingsworth competed in the Bocuse d’Or USA, where he was awarded the opportunity to represent the United States at the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest – the biennial global cooking competition first envisioned in 1987 by revered French chef Paul Bocuse. Hollingsworth completed a rigorous training process, during which he worked with some of the profession’s most influential figures. In early 2009, he traveled to Lyon, France to compete in the prestigious event, where he placed 6th out of 24 prominent chef teams from around the world--the highest placement ever received by the United States. That same year, Hollingsworth was also tapped to take on the role of Chef de Cuisine at The French Laundry.
Hollingsworth has garnered national attention for his contributions. In 2010, he received the Rising Star Chef Award from The San Francisco Chronicle as well as the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation. Under his helm, the restaurant continues to enjoy noteworthy accolades, including a 3-star rating from the prestigious Michelin Guide, and a 4-star rating from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Antoine Magnani
Euvitis Delicacies        

Antoine came from France 10 years ago to manage a group of restaurants called Curbside, after graduating from Sup Europe, a French business school in 2001 with a marketing degree and also in England at Leeds Metropolitan University with an international marketing degree.

Always interested in the food service industry, Antoine noticed that the distribution of wild mushrooms and truffles in the San Francisco Bay Area could offer him a great business opportunity.  Hence the creation of “Euvitis Delicacies”, the name “Euvitis” coming from a fungus growing on vines.
Antoine's Children

The venture began in October 2007, with a limited offering of wild mushrooms and truffles, and a year later, vanilla products were added as well as a line of caviar products.

With the growth of the business, so did Antoine’s family, where he is now the proud father of Alexia and Paloma.
Over the first 3 years, he and his wife have substantially increased their customer base, building great relationships with their clients sharing the same passion for food and the best quality of products available.
Nicolas Ronan
Chef Owner
Bisou Restaurant, San Francisco

Have you ever imagined a dinning experience full of love, joy and happiness?

Nicolas Ronan was born on June 29th, 1981, in Paris, France but made his first steps in the Hospitality Industry in London, England.  Fortunately, Nick landed himself a job as a line cook in Bentley SeaFood Restaurant, then became an oyster barman, and after took over the management position. Soon after that, Nick was hired as a waiter in a gastronomic restaurant Le Pont De La Tour and later became the head waiter (Maitre’D).

Prominently, Nicolas Ronan took a chance on being in charge of the four stars Harrington Hall Hotel taking the General Manager position. In 2004, Nick decided to return to France and learn more about the culture and the style of food his country is so famous for. In Paris, Nick discovered Chef Francois Pasteau (his mentor), who is the chef and owner of the one star Michelin Bistro L’EPI DU PIN in the 6th district of Paris.

After awhile, Nick arrived in the US where he worked in various French based cuisines discovering new ideas and his greatest passion of satisfying all of his guests. He came to San Francisco Bay Area where he worked in Plouf Seafood Restaurant and Café Claude as a manager.

Nicolas Ronan’s personality and food fulfills this dream. Nick, as all of his guests like to call him, has created such a breathtaking place named Chouchou (French - cutie pie little cabbage) and the latest BISOU(French kiss). Intriguingly, Nick is a chef-owner who emphasizes not only the quality of the food but mostly the love of living live in a delightfully tasty manner.

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