Jean Joho Explores the State of French Food in America

Jean Joho Explores the State of French Food in America

Plate |
Nov 17, 2016

Jean Joho is the chef/owner of French restaurants in Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas, ranging from the casual Brasserie Jo to classic cuisine at the Eiffel Tower to modern French fine dining at Everest. He spoke with us about the state of French food in America.

On how French food in America has changed in the last 30 years:

Food in America has changed a lot since I came here in 1985. When I moved here, I couldn’t find a good croissant in Chicago; it was impossible. They were all made from frozen dough. There was one person who did a café au lait. Now, you can find them everywhere.

The key things for me are the ingredients. When I came to America, everything was imported from Europe, even though the U.S. has so many resources. I wanted to use only American products, as a way to be different from other French chefs, and to grow as a chef. I wanted to improve by cooking with the ingredients I could find. So I had to find someone to grow shallots for me. There was one person shipping green beans. One person growing Bibb lettuce. Now, you can get everything. There are only three things I import: black truffles, white truffles and wild game like grouse and pheasant. I think it’s better to work with what you have. It’s always less expensive and a better product.

On featuring American cheese in French restaurants:

When I started serving American cheese, there were three artisan cheesemakers in America. I used to work with Judy Schad and Laura Chenel to experiment with goat cheese; they would try something new and send it to me. There was only one artisan maker of blue cheese in America. Everybody else used imported cheese. I didn’t have the same selection, but what I had was very good. But that changed; by the mid-’90s, I switched to just serving Midwestern cheeses, and work with farmers in Michigan and Wisconsin. Everybody said American cheeses don’t taste like French, but it’s a good product. It’s like when you have a California Cabernet; it’s different from a Bordeaux, but it is still very good. It can compete with Bordeaux.

On French food’s place in the culinary world:

The basics of cooking are French, no matter what you do. Even in Italy, a lot of the basics in cooking are French. We know how to cook the right way—the temperature, the timing. The right way to roast a chicken, how to braise something. You can change your food, but you can’t take the techniques away.

On the importance of food in French culture:

French people respect food, and dining is a big part of their life. You sit at the table and have a conversation; you have good food, good wine, good company.

I remember when I was first in America, I saw this guy eating while driving his car. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is so sad. This person doesn’t have a house to eat in; they have to eat in the car.’ But I realized that people here eat when they can. This is so un-French. We sit for three meals; we do not snack. It reflects the basics—how you live, how you eat. You have to have respect for what you’re doing.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
A Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life
Jun 1, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce in Love: Weddings with Lettuce Parties
Feb 13, 2018

It's almost Valentine's Day and love is in the air. Believe it or not it's a tale as old as time (or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to go on Valentine’s Day 2018
Feb 4, 2018

Have you made your Valentine's Day plans yet? It's right around the corner and there's lots of…

read more >
How To
It’s Apple Season: Where To Get Them and Where To Eat Them
Oct 19, 2017

Yeah, yeah, pumpkin this and pumpkin that, but let us not forget about our other favorite fall…

read more >
In The Restaurants
After 30 Years, Here Are 30 Things You Need to Know About Everest
Jan 4, 2017

  This month, Chef/ Proprietor J. Joho and the Everest team invite you to join us in…

read more >

Recent Posts

How To
Re-Create Saranello’s Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi at Home
Jun 20, 2018

We know that everyone's schedule is busy between work, getting to the grocery store, soccer games…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Las Vegas Restaurant Week
Jun 19, 2018

Las Vegas Restaurant Week (June 18-29) has begun! With multicourse lunch and dinner specials running…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Tallboy Taco’s Boozy Rainbow Paleta Benefits the Center on Halsted
Jun 18, 2018

To celebrate Chicago Pride, Tallboy Taco is serving a limited-edition Rainbow Paleta available June…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Oh Marie, Take Us To Summer
Jun 14, 2018

Summer is in full swing and there's a newfound spring in Marie's step with il Porcellino's warm…

read more >
In The Restaurants
After 20 Years, Here’s 20 Things to Know About Mon Ami Gabi
Jun 14, 2018

Since 1998, Mon Ami Gabi has been serving up French classics like our signature Onion Soup Au…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rich Says You’ve Gotta Try: Stella Barra Pizzeria
Jun 13, 2018

Summer time is typically synonymous with (trying to) eat lighter but what if we told you that what…

read more >
How To
Here’s How Bub City Celebrates the Best of American BBQ
Jun 11, 2018

Let’s stop for a moment and really think about… BBQ. Burning embers, fragrant smoke, saucey…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What’s New at Booth One: Breakfast, Brunch and a Bar Menu
Jun 7, 2018

We've got three things to add to your summer to do list! Booth One has rolled out a new weekday…

read more >
Openings
Now Open: Aba Brings Mediterranean Summer Vibes to Chicago
Jun 6, 2018

Aba is now open for dinner and with summer in Chicago almost here, we’ve got our eyes set on…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Perfect Date Night Dishes from Tokio Pub
Jun 5, 2018

Hey everyone! Kailley of Kailley Lindman Photography here! I'm a food writer-turned-photographer,…

read more >
Openings
Ramen-san Sends Noods to Fulton Market
Jun 4, 2018

The second edition of Ramen-san (@ramensanchi) is now open, bringing the "San" vibe of broth, beer…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Negroni Week: Drink Up For Charity
Jun 2, 2018

Drink a Negroni and benefit a local charity? We're in. June 4-10 marks Negroni Week 2018, a…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!