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
Dec 5, 2018

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

read more >
In The Restaurants
It’s Apple Season: Where To Eat ‘Em
Oct 16, 2018

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

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
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

In The Restaurants
Drink For A Cause: RPM Teams Up With Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
Mar 21, 2019

Looking for a way to give back to the Chicago community? Stop into RPM Italian (Chicago) and RPM…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2019: Metro D.C. Area
Mar 20, 2019

Celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 21 at one of our Metro D.C. Area restaurants! Click here to see…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2019: Las Vegas
Mar 20, 2019

Celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 21 at one of our Las Vegas restaurants! Enjoy a holiday brunch on…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2019: Los Angeles
Mar 20, 2019

Celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 21 with brunch offerings from Stella Barra Pizzeria in Hollywood…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2019: Chicago
Mar 20, 2019

Celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 21 at one of our Chicagoland restaurants. Enjoy Easter brunch with…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2019: Twin Cities
Mar 20, 2019

Celebrate Easter in the Twin Cities on Sunday, April 21 at Wildfire - Eden Prairie! Check out their…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Things to Know About Sushi-San’s Omakaze Experience
Mar 19, 2019

One of Chicago's most unique omakase experiences is Sushi-San's aptly named omaKAZE, where guests…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Milkshake Madness: A Tournament of Toppings
Mar 19, 2019

In the grand tournament of milkshake toppings, who are the last sweets standing? We rounded up all…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Reasons to Say “I Do” at The Dalcy
Mar 18, 2019

The holiday season is filled with family time, friends, too much food and engagements! Dubbed the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Weekly Bub City Calendar! Spoiler Alert: There’s A $5 Deal Every Night
Mar 18, 2019

We're here to make sure you never miss a beat and also help you plan your social calendar around…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rise & Shine: The Best Way to Breakfast During the Week
Mar 18, 2019

Early risers rejoice! We've rounded up all of our weekday breakfast specialties that will keep you…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Add This to Your To Do List: A New Weekday Lunch Menu at Stella Barra Santa Monica
Mar 18, 2019

Hey L.A., are you sick of the same old salads and fast food for lunch? We hear you. That's why…

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