5 questions with Executive Chef, Alaun Grimaud

Chef Alaun Grimaud

Friendly & approachable?  Check.  Educated & talented?  Double check.  A hard-working professional in and out of the Kitchen?  Triple check.

From my first phone interaction with Chef Alaun over 2 years ago, to each time I see him around the Club, it is a pleasure.  To see the work of this young talent in action is pretty amazing.

Do you want to learn a little more about what makes our talented Chef tick? I did. Without further adieu, Chef Alaun.

DSC01230

1.  What does fine dining mean to you? 

Fine dining to me is an experience.  For a restaurant to be considered fine dining, I feel it has to have not only great food, but also exceptional service, an elegant ambiance and an interesting wine list.

In regards to food, fine dining must be the story and inspiration of the Chef.  You cannot mass produce fine dining or create chain restaurants that are fine dining.  The menu and dishes should tell the story of the Chef’s background, experience and inspiration.  The menus I create at Julia’s are a direct representation of who I am as a Chef.  I am of French and Spanish descent, and I was born and raised in the Bay Area.

I also gained most of my professional cooking experience here in the Bay Area. With that said, my menus have to represent the season we are in to the day.  I call it hyper-seasonal.  I completely change the menu at Julia’s every week and make changes throughout the week based on what is seasonal right now.  Once I know what the best produce available is, that is when I put my personal slant on how we prepare those products to come up with our dishes.  Sometimes the inspiration is more Spanish, sometimes French.  But it is always my take on it.

2.  What is your hope for guests to take away from a meal at Julia’s? 

My hope is that they want to come back and eat at Julia’s again the next day.

3.  Do you have a recipe for success in and out of the Kitchen? 

  • Have fun.  There’s a lot of work that goes into running a fine dining restaurant, but that doesn’t mean that you have to feel stressed out all day long.  I want my cooks and servers to enjoy themselves and have a good time while they work and learn their craft.  I feel the food tastes better when the cooks are enjoying themselves practicing their craft.
  • Keep a clean and organized kitchen.  It can get a bit hectic running a restaurant and banquets out of one small kitchen, so staying organized and clean is imperative.
  • You better really love doing this.  To me there is no balance in the life of a Chef.  You live, breathe and eat food. Though I take days off physically from the kitchen, on my days off I’m reading cookbooks, checking out food blogs, writing menus, trying new dishes out at home.  It is a 7 day a week profession, but to me it never feels like work (except inventory).
  • Never stop learning.  There is so much to learn in the food world, that no matter how much experience you have, you will always come across something new.  It can be an ingredient, a new cooking technique, either way I am always trying to learn new things and sometimes I even change the way I prepare something based on a new way I discover that’s better.
  • Be open to criticism and feedback.  I’ve had dishes on the menu that I thought were great, but they didn’t resonate with my guests.  I encourage my servers to be honest with me if they feel a dish is not going over well with guests.  If it is obvious that a dish is not a winner in my guests eyes then I’ll change it.

4.  What is one of your favorite fall foods to prepare and eat? 

With any season, what’s really important is what’s good today.  I’ve been working with an Organic farm up in the Delta called Sundoggie Farms, which sends me a list of what they have that week.  This week they are offering some beautiful fall squashes and pumpkins.  I am planning on making a soup from a varietal called Queensland Blue Squash and I am going to roast some Sucrine de Berry Squash to serve with burratta cheese and grilled bread.

At home I enjoy eating pears during the fall.  I also have a dessert on our menu which features French Butter Pears, which we poach in red wine, than serve as a baked crumble with house made brown butter ice cream.

5.  What does it mean for you to mentor to your team in the Kitchen? 

It means a lot to me to be a mentor to my staff.  Without Chef mentors, I would not be where I am today.  Every Chef I have worked for has mentored and taught me in some way or another.  Some I learned a lot about food and cooking, others I learned about managing a staff and organization.  It is important for me to teach my cooks and Sous Chefs the same lessons I learned coming up in this craft.  I want everyone of my cooks to run their own kitchens one day and become better Chefs than I am.

Inspired to learn more about Chef Alaun?  View his biography on our website at http://www.berkeleycityclub.com/meet-the-chef/

Julia’s is open for Lunch, Tuesday through Friday, 11:30am – 2pm and Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm – 8:30pm.

If we can assist you in anyway, give us a call at 510.280.1547 or email us at julias@berkeleycityclub.com

Advertisements

Heirloom Veggies: 5 advantages over hybrids

Chances are, if you have dined out recently, you have seen an increased use of the word “heirloom.”

What does it mean?  Are these veggies better?  Are they more expensive?  What is the buzz all about?

Here are five advantages of heirlooms over traditional grocery store hybrids. Before you know it,  you will depart from unsure, yet curious, to heirloom pro. Let’s get started!

Alaun - Tomatoes

1. Exceptional taste is the #1 reason gardeners give for choosing heirloom varieties.

Many heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers in home and market gardens. Even today, small market farmers don’t usually transport their harvest in huge tractor trailers. There’s no need to plant veggies bred to be tough when you can plant heirloom vegetables that are tender, sweet, juicy and just plain delicious.

2. Heirloom vegetables are likely to be more nutritious than newer varieties.

Once people taste the difference in quality, they are happy to also hear of all the many additional positives.  (you can’t beat more nutritious!)

So, what is a good place to start, you wonder?

Heirloom tomatoes.

They are loaded with lycopene, a supercharged antioxidant that’s been associated with a lower risk of developing a number of different cancers including prostate, skin, and breast.

tomatoemarbles

3. Many gardeners prefer heirloom vegetables because they are open-pollinated, which means you can save your own seed to replant from year to year.

With heirloom vegetables you can choose what works best for your garden. If you save seeds from heirloom vegetables over several years, you can gradually select seeds from the plants that perform best in your local soil and climate. This will give you a seed strain that is more resistant to local pests and diseases. Plants are much more adaptable than most of us realize.

4. Heirloom vegetables are less uniform than hybrids, which means they often don’t ripen all at once.

Commercial growers love the uniformity of hybrids because they can pick the crop in one fell swoop. But for home gardeners, a gradual supply of fresh produce is usually preferable.

edl-Heirloom-harvest-2-car

5. Many heirlooms have wonderful stories of how they came to America.

In many cases, heirloom vegetables have been grown for many centuries all around the world, from gardeners and families near and far!

Chef Alaun loves to use heirloom varieties of veggies often.  Ready for a taste of Fall at Julia’s?  Come in and try the Heirloom Squash Soup with Spiced Pear Relish.  Sounds right up my alley!

Can’t wait any longer to come in?  Reservations are available for Lunch, Tuesday through Friday, from 11:30am – 2pm and for Dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, from 5pm – 8:30pm.

http://www.opentable.com/julias-at-the-berkeley-city-club