Chicago chef offers taste of France

2013-01-02T00:00:00Z 2013-01-02T10:44:03Z Chicago chef offers taste of FranceEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Martial Noguier shares his love of French cuisine daily with diners at his Chicago restaurant.

Noguier, chef/owner of Bistronomic, opened his French-bistro themed eatery in 2011. In previous years, the chef showcased his talents at restaurants such as  Cafes des Architectes, Chicago's famed Pump Room and One Sixtyblue, which was Michael Jordan's eatery.

"This was my dream and I knew one day it would come true," said Noguier. "I didn't dream for it to be a three or four star restaurant. My dream is to have an institution in Chicago and a real bistro in Chicago."

Noguier's menu is filled with simple, rustic recipes but with a modern twist. There's nothing stuffy about his place. He's intent on making it an eatery that people can just stop in for some great food.

"I want people to feel like they're in France," said Paris native Noguier. "And I want to make them want to go to France after eating at Bistronomic."

As a chef/owner, Noguier is hands on at all times at the bistro. He even makes it a point to visit the tables frequently at his 90-table restaurant.

"I like to make sure everything is o.k.," he said. "If they don't have a great experience, I want to fix it."

Noguier said he's learned a great deal from all of his previous restaurant experiences.

"When I look at the past, if I didn't work at the Pump Room or One Sixtyblue (and the other restaurants), I would not have opened Bistronomic," he said. "Working in all the restaurants was a good experience. I also learned what people wanted."

The name of the restaurant was coined as a combination of the words bistro, gastronomy and economic. He also works with ingredients that are regional, seasonal and sustainable from Midwest farms.

"I wanted a restaurant that people can come to twice a week. I didn't want it to be a restaurant that they come to twice a year," he said, about making it approachable and economic.

Noguier said all menu items at Bistronomic are homemade, from the sauces to the desserts and are created from the chef's own recipes that he's perfected through the years.

The following recipe for Bistronomic's special Baked Alaska dessert follows.

 Baked Alaska

Caramel Sauce (see recipe)

Candied Almonds (see recipe)

Meringue (see recipe)

1 quart of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream

DIRECTIONS: Prepare Caramel Sauce, Candied Almonds and Meringue in advance. When ready to serve, put ice cream into a serving bowl and cover with as much of the caramel sauce as you like. Sprinkle with candied almonds. Remove meringue from freezer, but do not thaw. Brown meringue with a kitchen torch or set in the broiler until tips of meringue are golden. If using a torch, do not brown the brioche. Set over topped ice cream. Serve immediately.

Caramel sauce:

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

DIRECTIONS: In a large, heavy saucepan, heat sugar with the water over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture turns into a smooth liquid and is a deep golden color. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully add cream and return to a boil. Add butter, a little bit at a time. After all the butter is incorporated, cool slightly, then strain the caramel sauce through a strainer (to remove lumps) into a container and let it cool completely.

Meringue:

6 egg whites

9 tablespoons sugar

1 slice brioche bread (crust removed, cut into 1/8-inch slice)

In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment until they form soft peaks. Slowly add sugar, a little at a time, and beat until mixture forms stiff peaks. Using a piping bag with a wide tip, pipe meringue onto a thin slice of brioche bread in a manner to accentuate the hard peaks of the meringue. Freeze until ready to use. Chef's note: The brioche is meant to be "a nice buttery base for the meringue to sit upon."

Candied almonds:

1 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons sugar

A few drops of water

DIRECTIONS: Put almonds in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sugar and then water. Stir, making sure the sugar does not burn and that it evenly coats the almonds. Once the sugar is melted, remove almonds from pan and lay them on a flat surface to dry. When dry, break up any almonds that clump together.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Source: Martial Noguier

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