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From San Francisco:

Roland Passot
Pots, Peppers and a Passion for Fashion
by Susan Dyer Reynolds

After cooking at restaurants in France, Chicago and Dallas, Roland Passot journeyed to San Francisco and opened French contemporary restaurant La Folie. Using local farm fresh ingredients, Possat puts a stylish spin on sophisticated cuisine. His inventive fare is presented on a changing menu with items including quail and foie gras lollipops, dungeness crab napoleon and trio of rabbit. The renowned chef can also be found in his growing chain of Left Bank bistros. The Food Paper’s Susan Reynolds sat down with Passot and cooked up some tasty Q & A.

The Food Paper: Who or what was your biggest cooking influence?
Roland Passot: Jean Banchet (chef/owner of Le Français in Wheeling, Illinois) because he was a perfectionist. He brought me from France to Chicago. He was my mentor.

TFP: Why did you become a chef?
RP: When I was a little kid, I used to come home after school and lift the lids off the pots to see what was cooking. I was already a gourmand! In the early ‘70s they put kids who weren’t good in school in the kitchen. It wasn’t glamorous—you still had to bring coal up from the basement to heat the stove. It was messy. But I loved it. I went to school and apprenticed for chefs at the same time, including Jean-Paul LaComb at Leon de Lyon. When I was 19 I became the chef de cuisine at Pierre Orsi.

TFP: Proudest cooking or restaurant moment?
RP: Opening and reopening La Folie! When we opened, it was me, my wife and $45,000. No investors. It was real. This was a little French bistro called La Camargue in the 80s and the owner, Jean-Baptiste Lorda, wanted $190,000. I said I wanted to put $45,000 into it—but I didn’t want the “hay and horses” interior! He became my banker. Opening and reopening La Folie was like having a first and a second child. I love seeing people happy here, and seeing it grow from a little bistro to what it is today.

TFP: Favorite ingredient?
Depends on the season—I love fresh peas, baby carrots, peaches, cherries. But my kitchen would say I am a tomato freak.

TFP: Least favorite ingredient?
RP: Red bell pepper. It’s okay cooked, in a ratatouille or a sandwich, but raw it’s too strong and it takes over everything. Also, lavender. I don’t mind it as a garnish—I use it as a skewer with shrimp—but not in ice cream or sauces. It tastes like soap.

TFP: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
RP: A fashion designer (smiles) for women.

La Folie
2316 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109

Susan Dyer Reynolds is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Northside San Francisco.

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