Master’s of Cuisine: Sebastien Rondier, Executive Chef
Sebastien Rondier, Executive Chef
1600 King Street
Old Town Alexandria
Sebastien Rondier’s love of traditional French cuisine and the communal aspects of cooking were instilled in him throughout his childhood in Southwest France. The influence of his grandparents and his uncle, a chef who brought his expertise home, even making fresh sausages for neighbors, was especially meaningful.
After graduating from culinary school at CFA Hotellerie DAX in France, Rondier worked in acclaimed kitchens in French Basque Country, Paris (Le Bristol, Michelin-starred Taillevent) and Monte Carlo (famed Chef Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred Le Louis XV Restaurant). Monte Carlo was the beginning of a prolific working relationship with Ducasse, as Rondier moved to the U.S. and worked in his celebrated restaurants across New York City (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Adour at St. Regis, Benoit) as well as in Puerto Rico (miX On The Beach at W Retreat & Spa), and in Washington D.C. (Adour at St. Regis). Rondier further honed his craft in additional kitchens in D.C., Hawaii and Las Vegas, as well as with a big win on the “I Love It When You Call Me Big Papaya” episode of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.
As Executive Chef at Brabo Brasserie, Rondier is thrilled to lead a first-rate culinary team and use his vast experience to shape a menu of simple, iconic French brasserie fare with a contemporary twist, made from top-quality, seasonal ingredients from around the region.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary field?
My uncle and grandma were my biggest inspirations for pursuing a culinary career. I knew early on that school was not for me. My uncle was in catering and I would go with him to work to watch him butcher meats and make pâtés, blood sausages, and terrines. This inspired me to start a two-year apprenticeship, followed by culinary school at CFA Hotellerie DAX in France and chef jobs around the world.
Who or what has made the biggest influence on you during your career?
Alain Ducasse had the biggest influence on my career. Working with him for 13 years was a challenging and rewarding experience. Because of him, I was able to make my way to New York City in 2003 after spending three years working in his three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Monte Carlo.
What is your “personal” favorite dish on your menu and why?
My personal favorite is Le Grand Duck Flambe. The dish serves two to four guests and requires a 24-hour notice. Roasted Rohan duck breast and braised legs are served with an orange confit sauce, radish composition, and a tableside flambé of Grand Marnier. It’s a classic French dish and is very much worth the wait!
What do you feel sets your cuisine apart from others in your field?
At Brabo Brasserie, I put a lot of thought into the ingredients I use and what guests are looking for when dining out. We offer a variety of fish dishes, an ever-changing steak frites program, and daily specials highlighting French classics. It’s important that our menus embrace fresh, local ingredients and the flavors of France to create dishes our guests are going to love.
If any chef in the world (past or present) could prepare you a meal, who would you want that to be?
Without any hesitation, Auguste Escoffier.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Chocolate and a glass of milk. I enjoy this almost every night.
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