From San Francisco:
Peppers and a Passion for Fashion
Susan Dyer Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
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
TFP: Favorite ingredient?
RP: Depends on the season—I love fresh peas, baby
carrots, peaches, cherries. But my kitchen would say I am a tomato
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.
If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
RP: A fashion designer (smiles) for women.
2316 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dyer Reynolds is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Northside