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Q&A: Chef Reynald Tel Tells His Story

Q: Reynald, thanks so much for taking time to talk with us here at anewscafe.com. I know you have a pretty full month of cooking, right?

Chef Reynald Tel is in high demand in Redding where he works at public and private events, like this one in the home of Skip Murphy. Reynald is the featured chef for A Harvest Sampler, Sun. Oct. 7. Photo courtesy of Reynald Tel’s website, photo by Skip Murphy of Redding.

Yes, indeed! We have a pretty solid month ahead of us, starting with private home dinners with wine pairing that we are doing at clients’  homes. Then comes your Slow Food event, A Harvest Sampler, at the Atrium on  Oct. 7, followed by the Rising Stars gala at Turtle Bay Museum on Oct 13, and our four- course pairing and tasting at the tasting room downtown on Oct.23, not to mention many more private dinners and events.

Q: That’s quite an impressive schedule for your DeReynald Catering Company, not to mention that you also teach cooking lessons,too.

But I got ahead of myself. Where are my manners? First, before we get into the cooking details, I haven’t even given you a chance to tell a bit about yourself. Please, go ahead.

I was born in Paris, France, and moved to New York City in 1998 after finishing my apprenticeship of French cooking while training at La Barriere de Clichy, which was owned by Bernard Loiseau.

Q: Bernard Loiseau!? He was the famous chef who killed himself when he feared he’d lose one of his Michelin stars.

So onto a happier subject: You and your wife Cameron, who’s from Redding, met in Los Angeles. And I know that you, Cameron and your four little boys all live in Redding now. Welcome to Redding, Reynald! Let’s talk about your work as a chef for a moment. You’ve worked at Michelin star restaurant or two, correct?

True. My first internship was at Eight Mile Creek, an Australian restaurant in Manhattan, where I learned about preparing different wild games. I also worked at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant located in Manhattan. At the time, Marcus Samuelsson was the chef there, and the restaurant had 1 Michelin star, but the same was true where I worked at La Goulue, a really well-establish restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side.

Q: All this talk of Michelin stars reminds me to ask if you’d please give a little backstory about the Michelin star, for those unfamiliar with it?

The term “Michelin Star” means that an establishment is defined as a place of extreme fine dining. The Michelin Tire Company launched a book encouraging French travel and started rating restaurants by a 3-star system. It’s defined dining ever since.

Q: Hey. I learned something today. I never knew that the restaurant-related Michelin was related to the Michelin Tire company. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Back to talking about you. What is it about cooking that you like?

I enjoy creating different dishes for different personality types. Believe it or not, I enjoy the pressure of plating dishes in a timely way.

Q: That last part one make me laugh, because, I DO believe that about you! But seriously, what are the biggest challenges for a chef?

In New York, it was the long hours and not being able to see my family as much as I would like.

Currently, my challenge would be the same as what I like about cooking; constantly thinking of different dishes to create, mixing flavors. Also a big challenge is not being able to get the same kinds of  exotic proteins as in a bigger city.

Q: Of course, when you say “protein” you mainly are talking about meats, fish and poultry, for example.

While I still have you here, what’s the common misconceptions people have about chefs?

The biggest misconception is that we eat well all of the time. I have to say that after a dinner I’ve prepared where I plated 30, 8-course covers alone, I just want to drive through In-‘N’- Out and grab a burger and fries.

Q: I wouldn’t apologize for that. Years ago when I interviewed Julia Child she said she was a big fan of In’ N Out Burger, so it seems you both have similar tastes in cooking.  So, in current time you will be the featured chef at A Harvest Sampler, presented by A News Cafe.com and Slow Food Shasta/Cascade on Sun. Oct. 7.

Is there something you are preparing as as sample that you are most excited about?

It is a surprise, you are going to just have join us to find out.

Q: OK, I will. Easy task. One thing that’s not a surprise is that you’ll also be doing a cooking demonstration at A Harvest Sampler, and Cameron will be nearby at a little bistro table taking reservations for a dinner of your own that’s coming up, a special night that A NewsCafe.com is helping promote. Tell us about it.

Yes, I will be a pop-up chef at downtown restaurant Deja Vu on November 3rd. This will be one night of fine dining and wine; hopefully leading to more evening dinners.

Q: Well, I will be there, for sure. I can’t wait. I think what’s terrific about that night’s pop-up restaurant is that this is a chance for you – Reynald Tel – to pull out the stops and show off your talents by preparing food that YOU want to create. You are not stuck with someone else’s demands, such as for example, a rustic Italian street theme. It’s all about what you want to make. I really am looking forward to it. I hope to be the first person to buy a ticket.

We are getting prepared for it, thank you for supporting us.

Q: I’m happy to! But first things first. I’m keeping my eye on the ball for A Harvest Sampler, then I go to Italy for the International Terra Madre conference. I’m one of about 3,000 delegates attending.  But I’m so looking forward to attending  your pop-up restaurant on Nov. 3. I’m really looking forward to it.

That is so exciting, I will make sure that I give you a list for spices to bring back for me 🙂

Q: I will gladly bring you some spices from Italy. In the meantime, I’ll let you return to work. Thanks for talking with me, Reynald. Anything else you want to add?

A big merci to this community for embracing DeReynald Catering.

Q: Same to you, Reynald. Thank you! See you Sunday! I’m really looking forward to it, but I must cut this conversation short because you and I have so much to do before Sunday. But really, I’m looking forward to it. Ciao!

For information about Chef Reynald Tel, go to DeReynaldCatering.com. To order tickets to atttend A Harvest Sampler, go to brownpapertickets.com.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.