Chef Laurent Quenioux is innovation in French cuisine. Born and raised in Sologne, France, an area heavily populated with game, Quenioux developed a love for cooking based on the animals that he hunted with his father, which his mother cooked. As a young man he apprenticed at Maxim’s, Bistro De Paris, and La Ciboulette in Paris, Le Negresco in Nice, and La Bonne Auberge in Antibes, some of the top restaurants France (and Europe) has to offer. These apprenticeships and his childhood in France gave him exposure to and an understanding of the best of French cuisine, and developed a sophisticated French technique that he brought with him to the United States. Moving from France, Quenioux settled in Los Angeles, where he gained recognition for his French Nouvelle California cuisine at Bistro K and Bistro LQ (both now closed).
His ambitious menus often feature multiple types of foie gras (one of his personal favorites), the use of the entire animal in terms of wild game, and the combination of ingredients rarely found on the same plate. Quenioux admits to choosing to ingredients uncommonly used or combined, and his dishes such as escargot pizza or sea urchin tapioca pudding create a dining experience unlike any other. The 2011 James Beard Best Chef: Pacific semifinalist is currently working as the executive chef at Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, the home to former Bistro K and a place that represents Quenioux’s American “roots.” Owned by renowned film-producer Gale Ann Hurd and thus a high-profile location, Quenioux has brought his “inventive fare” to this atypical wine bistro while still retaining a comfortable, neighborhood feel, evident in his Burger Night featuring bison or his BBQ Rib Sunday Supper. He is also known around LA for his “pop-up” dinners, where he works at various restaurants as a guest chef for a night, providing patrons with an often less-expensive option to experience his cuisine. A Top Chef season 9 contestant, it is clear that Quenioux’s personality is reflected in his eccentric food, as he is as unique yet sophisticated as each of his menu items.