Born and raised in Paris at the center of the food universe, Lesage was surrounded by the rich flavors and techniques that define French gastronomy. His passion for art and hours spent at the Louvre studying color palettes later inspired his artistic presentations of dishes. After graduating from the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France, Lesage trained at some of the world’s most celebrated establishments, including The Ritz Paris, the Michelin three-star restaurant, L’Astrance and Michelin three-star restaurant, Bras.
Most recently, Lesage served as Executive Chef of Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach where he opened two of the city’s waterfront restaurants, Waterline and A&O Kitchen + Bar. Prior to that, he served as Executive Sous Chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach, managing a culinary team of more than 60. As Executive Chef of Bacara Resort & Spa’s renowned culinary program, Lesage oversees all culinary operations at the resort, including Angel Oak, the signature restaurant created under his direction.
Pan Seared Scallops
With Marcona Almond Brown Butter Puree, Pickled Cauliflower. Serves 4.
16 jumbo scallops
4 cups marcona almonds
½ pound of butter
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of milk
1 head of white cauliflower
1 head of yellow cauliflower
1 head of purple cauliflower
Extra virgin olive oil
For the pickling liquid
2 cups rice vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 each star anise
1 teaspoon coriander seed
Marcona almond brown butter puree
Toast the almonds in the oven at 350 degrees until they are golden brown.
To make the brown butter, place ½ pound of butter in saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is golden brown, take it off the heat and add the almonds, juice of three lemons, milk and garlic cloves. Continue to cook that on low heat for 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender and mix until completely blended. Tip: Make sure the device is completely covered in sauce to avoid any splatter. Taste for seasoning.
Divide each cauliflower head in half. With a mandolin, shave half of each cauliflower head. Reserve in cold water bath until you are ready to plate up. Dice the other half into small pieces. Place the diced cauliflower in a tall container to allow for pickling liquid.
Place all the spices in a dry sauté pan and toast on medium for about a minute. Tip: You will smell the oil in the spices release when they are ready to take off the heat. Place the toasted spices in a pot with the rest of the pickling ingredients and bring to a boil. Strain immediately and pour the liquid over the cauliflower. Seal and let set for at least 48 hours.
In a sauté pan, heat oil until very hot. Pan sear the scallops on each side until golden brown. To finish, add butter to sauce pan, and as the butter melts, use a spoon to baste the scallops in the melted butter. Tip: Tilt the sauté pan to create a pool of butter; this will make it easier to spoon over the butter.
Reheat the brown butter puree and ladle in the center of the plate. Place the scallops around the puree. Lightly season the shaved cauliflower with olive oil and toss with salt, pepper and chopped chive. Garnish the dish with pickled and shaved cauliflower and serve.
This story was originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.