The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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2 0 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t Olivier Quignon is Executive Chef at Avec Nous, the healthy version of French bistro cooking at the Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills. He is a former chef at New York's Daniel Boulud restaurants and illustrious Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris including La Grande Cascade, Hôtel du Crillon and Hôtel du Louvre. A CHAMPAGNE CART WHIZZES BY OUR TABLE—a retro 1950s ver- sion with designer ice buckets, including a standout tortoiseshell Christian Dior that holds a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut. Director of Restaurants for the newly rebranded Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills is Conrad Reddick—a Chicago transplant whose credits include Alinea and who was ready for the next chapter in his life when brought in this concept for a très cool beverage program. "I was always pushed to manage service," says the 38-year-old, who worked with the famous Charlie Trotter at 23. "That was the school of hard knocks," he says with a smile that had a glint of truth behind it. Just over a decade later, he is leading a team of sommeliers, mixologists and servers and backed by a Chef who has reigned at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris: Olivier Quignon. "There's a beauty and romance in training," Reddick remi- nisces. "I hope to bestow the same kindness, patience and fairness that I experienced from my mentors. The regenerated team at Avec Nous executes food and wine service with passion and grace. Although more casual than what was previously in the hotel's dining area, the farm-to-table sensibility elevates its food adventure positioning (see page 32). Chef Olivier Quignon, challenged with the task of opening a French bistro, wanted to also understand the nature of his surroundings beyond Beverly Hills. While the restaurant opened this past March, he made L.A. his home as early as last July. "I could not create traditional Parisian bistro fare," he confesses. "The people here are all about their health—not fatty foods and heavy sauces. Instead, I am preparing olive oil or veggie-based sauces and mushroom versus meat stock." Avec Nous may be more St. Tropez than Paris, and the Mediterranean influence taps into the array of fresh vegetables and seafood Quignon has at the ready. "I respect the produce first," he states. "I like asparagus, as does every chef. It's delicate, and I like to hear it snap." The Greek anchovy in my Niçoise salad is delectable; I don't miss the absence of tuna at all. In fact, the ingredients individu- ally are as exciting at the plated dishes—it's a common thread throughout the menu. Re-Generation in Beverly Hills AVEC NOUS IS AN UPDATED TAKE ON THE CLASSIC FRENCH BISTRO by Meridith May PHOTOS COURTESY OF VICEROY HOTEL GROUP The roasted organic chicken breast for the Jidori chicken dish interfaces with leeks, Hen of the Wood mushrooms, Vidalia onion and Parisian gnocchi. Impressed by Southern California's citrus crops, Quignon was inspired to use Cara Cara oranges as an undertone to foie gras. "The fat and tart/sour balance is what works here. I make a gastrique from the juice." ■cr

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