JJ Bistro & French PastryDigest Kitchen Insider
August 25, 2013
Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: Leah Friel
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? Well, much credit goes to the many chefs, owners and managers who work diligently day in and day out to make sure Hawaii’s diners have a top-notch dining experience.
This week, Dining Out gets the inside scoops from JJ Bistro & French Pastry’s owner and chef JJ Luangkhot, who gives us a little taste of JJ Bistro & French Pastry and shares just what fuels his culinary drive.
NAME JJ Luangkhot
TITLE Owner and Chef of JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry
TRAINING/EDUCATION Eight years of training under Chef Jean Marc Burillier in New York City
Who or what inspires you as a chef and owner? My teacher and mentor Chef Jean has always been an inspiration to me throughout my career. He was the original reason that I pursued a career as a pastry chef and restaurateur. I was originally working for him and thinking that I would save money and go to school to be an accountant, because it seemed like a solid career choice. But then, Chef Jean approached me, and told me that if I put in the time and really learned the craft, he believed I could be a fantastic pastry chef. He told me that most pastry chefs tend to do everything by the book because of the nature of baking, but he saw a creativity in me that could allow me to be truly great. I decided to take that chance and train under him, and have had an incredible career ever since.
What is your favorite dish on the menu? Why? Our lamb dish is fantastic, because our preparation method uses fresh rosemary, which gives the dish a fresh and delicious taste.
Our cooking method always results in a tender and succulent texture, which I love. I’m also a big fan of our lobster dishes, because, to me, lobster is the king of the sea. We make sure to take extra-special care when preparing lobster for any of our dishes — as not to overcook it and leave the customer with that rubbery texture that no one likes. We also offer three sauces and preparations for the lobster, all of which are delicious. Some customers like my lobster with the pad Thai specialty, some like a classic white wine and garlic sauce, and for those who like their sauces extra spicy, we have a great chili jalapeno garlic sauce with an extra kick that is really popular.
What is your favorite ingredient to work with? Why? My favorite ingredient by far is rosemary. It is a staple of French cooking and adds an intensely aromatic flavor to anything you make with it. It’s also a very affordable ingredient, which, from an industry standpoint, is great!
Is there a dish that you create that’s not on your menu, but available upon request? Yes, it’s called “anything you want.” I have made customers so many custom dishes in the past. It’s a matter of them trusting me to come up with something delicious based on what we have in the back. Lately, there’s been a number of customers looking for a vegan dish, which we don’t have on the menu. I’m always happy to create a specially made dish for those with dietary restrictions. I try to come up with something new every time, but it usually involves our special gluten-free rice noodles, and since vegan eaters can’t have sauces with dairy ingredients I come up with tomato-based sauces instead. It’s fun.
What are your culinary goals? What do you hope to improve on? My culinary goal has always been to be better tomorrow than today, and to always find a way to improve. As far as the restaurant goes, we are looking to expand our wholesale business in a sustainable, quality way. It would be great to get our desserts into the hands of more people on Oahu!
JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.