Local chefs get statewide display

Local chefs get statewide display

September 5, 2006

Alessandra Djurklou, Food Editor

When chefs get together, delicious things can happen. The California Restaurant Association celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and to commemorate the occasion, chefs all over the state were asked to submit recipes for a cookbook. “Chef’s Specials of California” went on sale last week at the First Annual Los Angeles Wine and Food Festival, which was held in conjunction with the much bigger Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo (see last week’s Taste for coverage of that event). Part of the proceeds for the cookbook goes to scholarships for aspiring chefs through the association’s education program.

Fifty chefs contributed recipes for the cookbook, which is now available for sale online. Two of those chefs are based in Long Beach Andre Angles, owner of Frenchy’s Bistro on Anaheim Street, and Lucia Robles, owner of the Lucia and Company catering concern.

Frenchy’s Bistro just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and Angles is no stranger to gatherings of chefs. He is a regular participant in local culinary events, including the annual Grand Cru. He was contacted to contribute to this cookbook through a French chefs’ association, and said he racked his brains to come up with something original for this book.

Finally, he hit upon something: a tuna burger. “It comes from a chef I used to work with, named Michel Richard,” Angles said, adding that, since the dish calls for
red-fleshed ahi tuna, “it looks like a burger, and is presented the same way.”

While one could use other kinds of tuna, such as albacore, Angles doesn’t recommend it. It’s too dry, and is not red, like beef.

Make sure your tuna is very fresh, since it only is seared quickly, and do not skip the freezing step, since that helps keep the burger from falling apart once it is cooked. Angles also recommends replacing the oil and vinegar dressing with mayonnaise mixed with a few drops of sesame oil.

A native of Avignon, France, Angles spent three years in culinary school and one in pastry school. He has studied with legendary chef Roger Verge and worked in restaurants including L’Orangerie and L’Hermitage. Since opening Frenchy’s in 1996, however, he has made it his mission to serve French food that is not too heavy, not too pricey, not too formal and not too snotty.

Too many people in this country, Angles said, perceive French cuisine as unapproachable.

The simplicity and lightness of Angles’ tuna burger will hopefully further dispel such myths.

The bulk of the recipes in “Chef’s Specials” are savory, which is why Lucia Robles decided to submit one for a dessert her Mexican chocolate bread pudding.
“This is one of my favorite things to make,” said Robles. “It’s one of the few desserts in the book.”

Like Angles, Robles’ recipe was meant to dispel myths mainly that many bread puddings are bland, brick-like gummy monstrosities.

“There are some pretty bad ones out there,” Robles said “They’re too soggy and mushy. They don’t have to be soggy.”

The San Francisco native, who moved to Southern California almost a decade ago to study at the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, recalls making bread puddings with her parents growing up.

“I’ve been cooking since I was 2,” she said. “(In my house) everything revolved around food. My mother wanted me to feel included, so she had me help her.”
Her disappointment at some of the unsatisfactory recipes she tried for bread pudding led her to create her own.

The Mexican overtones using Mexican chocolate and cinnamon bread reflect her heritage, though her full-service catering company, Lucia and Company, which opened in Long Beach in 2004, runs the gamut on ethnic cuisine. Robles, who attends the Food Expo every year, was contacted by the restaurant association and asked to submit a recipe. She also participated in the events at the L.A. Wine and Food Festival.

To purchase “Chef’s Specials of California,” ($19.95) order online at

Frenchy’s Bistro is located at 4137 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-8787,
www.frenchysbistro.com. Lucia and
Company can be contacted at (562) 397-4249 or

— Alessandra Djurklou (562) 499-1252,

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