LA Chef: Pascal Lorange, Fig & Olive

LA Chef: Pascal Lorange, Fig & Olive

As executive chef at Fig & Olive, Executive Chef Pascal Lorange offers a seasonal menu inspired by cuisine from the Riviera and coastal regions of Italy and Spain. In addition to managing kitchen operations for six locations in New York and LA, Lorange's resume includes meals prepared for two U.S. presidents and time serving as personal chef for singer Julio Iglesias.

As executive chef at Fig & Olive, Executive Chef Pascal Lorange offers a seasonal menu inspired by cuisine from the Riviera and coastal regions of Italy and Spain. In addition to managing kitchen operations for six locations in New York and LA, Lorange's resume includes meals prepared for two U.S. presidents and time serving as personal chef for singer Julio Iglesias. We caught up with Pascal to find out what's new at Fig & Olive and insider tips for dining at the restaurant's Melrose location. Walk us through a typical day at Fig & Olive as executive chef. Each day is different—creating new recipes, working with my kitchen staff and team on refining existing dishes, working the line, being on service when the lunch and dinner crowd fills the restaurant. As I oversee the Fig & Olive kitchens for all six locations nationwide, I spend my time traveling between New York and LA to ensure that all new menus and dishes are launched successfully and with cohesion and consistency. How often does the menu at Fig & Olive change? We launch new menu items seasonally. There are signature items that are menu mainstays—like the Rosemary Lamb Chops, Fig & Gorgonzola Tarlet, and the Zucchini Carpaccio—however, each season brings a new range of ingredients with which to play. For example, right now on the menu we have a Pumpkin Sage Ravioli made with free range chicken, ricotta and charmoula, pumpkin olive oil emulsion, toasted pumpkin seeds, and parmesan and aged balsamic. What's your favorite item currently on the Fig & Olive menu? I’m really proud of our new family-style shareable entrees like the Whole Branzino for two, which is a two-pound Branzino roasted with rosemary, lemon thyme, garlic lemon sauce vierge and served with a choice of two sides, tableside. Are there any “secret menu items” at Fig & Olive we should be aware of? There aren’t “secret menu items” per say, but some guests don’t know that we sell a wide variety of olive oils. They make for great holiday hostess gifts—it beats a standard bottle of wine! Where is the best seat in the house at Fig & Olive? The best seat in the house is in the center of the dining room under the olive trees. In the daytime, light just streams through the space, illuminating the white walls. The booths are comfortable and inviting—I could sit there for hours. Name one food trend you wish would disappear. Communal dining. While I enjoy others’ company, I’m not usually dining out to eat with strangers. I’m all for eating in proximity to one another, but it can ruin the experience when you’re so close to someone that you can’t properly cut a steak or swirl your glass of wine. What's your favorite dish to cook for yourself? As a child I would accompany my family on weekly trips to the market and help my parents prepare my favorite dish, pavé de cabillaud (“cod steak”), with mashed potatoes, parsley and vegetables. I think that will always be my favorite dish to cook. Tell us three things people would be surprised to know about you. I cooked for the Clintons while they vacationed at Iglesias’ Dominican Republic home while Clinton was working on his memoirs; Prior to Fig & Olive, I was the personal chef for singer, Julio Iglesias; and in September 2012, President Barack Obama and 250 esteemed guests attended a private fundraising campaign dinner at Fig & Olive Melrose Place—that was quite the honor! When you’re not in the kitchen, where can we find you? Does the farmer’s market count? Truly though, if I’m not in the kitchen, traveling or spending time with my family. Finish this sentence: Los Angeles is… full of opportunity. I can never get enough of exploring this diverse city.      
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