French native Pierre Rougey is the chef at the helm of Prandial Restaurant, a roomy spot in Chelsea that specializes in American standards injected with a certain French chic. After nine years in NYC, Rougey has acquired a following for his creative fusion dishes and reinvigorating staples with an unexpected French sensibility.
What makes Prandial special?
I love the décor, and I have a beautiful state of the art kitchen. I came to the United States from France in 1997, and we wanted to take traditional French techniques and apply them to traditional American cuisine. I love French food, but I needed a new challenge, and I couldn’t hope for a better opportunity and space.
You specialize in fusion dishes. How did this come about?
Different parts of the world have different types of ingredients. In France, there were always different ingredients available that make cuisine different from one region to another. So I guess you could call it fusion, but I have been combining different regional ingredients all my life. In New York, there are so many ways to get different ingredients – for example, I have a mushroom supplier from the west coast. So there are many opportunities to combine new things.
What is your favorite item at Prandial?
I love the pork belly. I love the flavor. It comes with a beet salad made beets that we pickled four months ago.
Is there a meal you have been meaning to try?
I’d like to go to French Laundry, Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant in California. He also has a restaurant called Per Se in New York. I have his cookbook, and I’m very inspired by him. He was born and raised in the U.S., but lived for years in France and is very knowledgeable about ingredients worldwide.
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What would you cook to impress a date?
I wouldn’t have a specific dish in mind - I’d have to know my date first. There isn’t just one dish for everyone – food is a very personal thing. Maybe we could take a trip to the vegetable market together, and start from there.
I really like an apple tart. They’re simple, and I have memories of them from when I was 13 or 14 years old. We used to eat them after soccer practice. To me, there’s nothing better.