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Sonoma County, CA, United States
A food and restaurant review through the eyes of a 13 year old and his family.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of The Best Days of My Life! - A "Full" Day At La Gare Restaurant


By now, everybody knows that La Gare Restaurant is my all time favorite restaurant. The reason it's my favorite restaurant is because it's family owned, the wait staff is really nice, the food is awesome and the best is the Chef/Owner Roger Praplan.

Roger and his sister Jackie asked if I wanted to come to La Gare and help prep for dinner service. I spent yesterday morning there. This was the coolest ever!
When I first got there, we walked into the kitchen. The kitchen is the cleanest kitchen and a perfect set up for cooking. The gas burner is 31 years old and it works like a brand new stove. Chef Roger was cooking Coq Au Vin, which is chicken in red wine. The chicken had been marinating for 3 days! He showed me how to carmelize pearl onions for this dish, and even first thing in the morning, they tasted great. I got to talking to Chef Roger about how he became a chef. He started cooking when he was really young in Switzerland and in France. His father taught him a lot about cooking. Over the years Chef Roger has cooked at different restaurants including the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco and Hotel Meridian in New York. My dad stayed at that hotel a few times for work and said it's a really nice hotel. He's even cooked at the Bohemian Grove. His family opened La Gare in 1979.

Chef Roger also teaches at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Chef Roger is my favorite chef.

While I prepped, Chef Roger taught me how to make escargot and the halibut special. These are my favorite dishes at La Gare Restaurant. We did over 100 escargot! Then we made a peppercorn sauce and a blue cheese sauce for steak. I liked the blue cheese sauce the best. I can't share the ingredients to anything because they are a secret. I also got to help do the raspberry tarts. This is a flaky pastry that has a really good cream spread over it, then layered with with fresh raspberries and then brushed with an apricot glaze. I had to brush the glaze in one direction all over the top. While I was there, Heather stopped by from The Bite Club. She took some pictures and sampled some of the food, and asked Roger lots of questions. It was great to see her, and she got a full tour of the kitchen when we were done.

We made reservations to eat there that night so I could try the food I helped with. We were seated by Jackie (Chef Roger's sister). She went over the specials. Our server's name was Bobbi. She was a very nice lady. We gave her our order which was an appetizer of escargot, an order of halibut, a NY steak with blue cheese sauce, the coq au vin, and for the "basic eater" my sister Rylee had buttered noodles with carrots. Chef Roger came out and took me into the kitchen to check things out. I talked a little bit with the kitchen staff and then brought my mom a morrel mushroom to try. Our escargot came and Chef Roger brought us the crab cake appetizer special. They were SO GOOD! I even got my sister to dip her bread in the escargot drippings which is a huge big deal. She even tried a little bite of the crab cake. Then next thing to come to our table was the cream of asparagus soup. It's one of my favorite soups at La Gare and my sister loved it. The restuarant was really busy...there was a huge party of about 15 people. Jackie asked if I would help serve the guests their dinner. It was really fun. After that, our server, Bobbi, asked me to help make a tableside Caeser Salad for a group of 4 sitting next to us. Again, it was awesome.

When I was done helping with the salad, our family had our dinner. Everything was great. After that, I went back to the kitchen where Chef Roger was making up a Panna cotta for my family to share. Panna cotta is like a flan, but it taste like the best vanilla ice cream on earth. It was served with mixed, fresh berry sauce. Panna cotta is now my favorite dessert at La Gare.

All in all, it was one of the most memorable days in my life, and I'll never forget it. This day gave me a real understanding of how much hard work and effort is put into cooking in a restaurant. It's not an easy day. Roger starts at 7 in the morning, works until 2 in the afternoon, gets a short nap, and is back at the restaurant cooking from 5 o'clock til 10 at night. That's a long day.

Thanks to Roger and Jackie for letting me come in and prep and teaching me how to cook escargot, and a few other secrets. It was the best.




(EDITORS NOTE FROM DAD-It's so easy to see why this is such a successful and established restaurant. Roger and Jackie have a passion for great food, but moreover, for great experiences. Chef Roger spends long, long hours in the kitchen, teaches at the local college, and still took time out of a busy Saturday-prep to spend two hours teaching and mentoring a 10 year old. He is obviously, and rightfully, proud of his kitchen and his products. Welcoming a reporter into your kitchen during prep is something I don't think every chef would do, but Roger did that with Heather from The Bite Club with no hesitation. Sometimes when something is around a long time, people forget about it, or overlook it. Those of you who have been there know, and those of you who haven't, should go.)

2 comments:

  1. What a great day for you Logan! I love La Gare as well! I have not been there for YEARS! This has made me REALLY want to make a reservation! I hope next time we come to your house for dinner that you will be our chef for the night! ♥

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  2. Keep on doing whatever it is that you do – Thanks for sharing this.

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