Manhattan’s La Grande Boucherie Chef Maxime Kien Reveals the ‘Simple Secret’ to a Great Dish
Chef Maxime Kien is the new Executive Chef of NYC’s The Group, responsible for La Grande Boucherie, Boucherie Union Square, Boucherie West Village, Petite Boucherie and more. And by the end of 2023, they’re launching even more restaurants.
But today’s conversation is about bringing the most flavor out of a plate’s ingredients
Chef Maxime Kien explains:
To me, the simpler the food on the plate, the harder it is to make. The food we see in some restaurants right now is over-complicated.
Too many ingredients, too much mixing of flavors and sauce and garnishes. [Instead,] try to stay true to what you’re trying to achieve.
Let’s say you’re doing a scallop. Cook the scallop properly, season it properly, don’t try to hide the flavor of the scallop with something which is gonna be overpowering and then you’re gonna be left eating something and not being able to recognize what you have in front of you.
Not looking at it and saying, ”What is that?”
Everybody thinks cooking fish is easy. No, it’s actually really technical because the second you over-cook it, the fish is worse.
The key is being able to take something nice, season it properly, cook it properly and make it the star of the dish, with something that is going to complement it.
A nice sauce is as simple as that. That’s what we are trying to achieve here, not try to be too complicated.
La Grande Boucherie is the number one booked restaurant in New York City. I think we’re in the top five in the USA as far as the volume that we do.
There are some items, like I will not put a tomato salad on the menu in December, even if we can find them. I want to make sure that I follow the seasons and follow nature. So tomatoes will come for summer.
In spring, you’re gonna have spring pie and try to stay true to the roots and try to stay true to seasonal things.
I wouldn’t put whole vegetable bread in the midst of summer because that’s something that you serve as food with venison in fall and winter. Mushroom season is mushroom season. Don’t try to do things ’out of season’ because the product is not gonna be the best. So if the product is not good, I don’t want to serve it. I’d rather not put something on the menu rather than put something on the menu that’s not gonna be to our standard. I don’t wanna do that.
Tell us about the next steps of NYC’s The Group launching several restaurants throughout the United States
The company [The Group NYC] started about 11 years ago with the vision of Emil Stefkov, the owner. He opened the first restaurant and the company grew pretty quickly after that.
The company almost quadrupled its size within a few years. Then because of Covid, everything was touch and go. But now we have a few projects coming up. We have Miami, Washington DC and Chicago. We’re gonna add another eight restaurants to the portfolio. We’re gonna double the size of the company within a short amount of time.
Well, there’s a lot of moving parts between developing the kitchen and having a look at the plans — we need to do this, this is where the pantry needs to be here. You know, and they’re talking about many developments and research and the staffing. There’s so many components. It’s not only like ‘We’re gonna open the restaurant.’ There is so much work behind that. You’re looking at the location. You have to think back to seasonal and local [ingredients and menu].
It’s all different food scenes. Even if you have core items from the menu, because they’re your identity, you have to look at every single location as an almost separate entity and be able to say, ‘This dish might not work over there, but it’s gonna work right here.’ So develop all of that and being thoughtful about everything.