Coquette, a French brasserie in Raleigh, N.C., run by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Stacey Jennings, needed a new chef with French flair. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team were called in to help with the search. After testing four candidates, an offer was extended to Chef Michael Bryant.
Chef Bryant has been waiting for the right opportunity to move to the East Coast from Los Angeles so he can be closer to his daughter. Classically trained in French cuisine, Chef Bryant knows this opportunity is perfect for him.
For the first test, the chefs were instructed to make one sweet crepe and one savory crepe, incorporating the same ingredient in the filling of each. Chef Bryant ambitiously chose to use pink peppercorns and kumquats in both. For his savory dish, he made a crepe au fromage with salmon and pink peppercorn and kumquat salsa. His sweet crepe suzette featured a kumquat curd filling and a blueberry and peppercorn reduction. Anne and the owners appreciated his ambition and felt his dish was very creative.
For the second test, the chefs had to create a rabbit dish that utilized all the parts. Chef Bryant made a crepinette out of the rabbit legs, which he wrapped in caul fat, and he also seared the loins but didn’t get a chance to plate the offal. The owners felt he was on the right track but was a bit too ambitious.
Chef Bryant’s dinner service went fairly smooth, but some of his simplest dishes, like the salad and the soup appetizers, were overcomplicated. Some of the dishes were sent back with inconsistency issues, but once he fixed them, the food went over very well with the guests. He finished dinner strong with adoration from the staff. His competitor, however, was let go during her dinner service. Chef Bryant was surprised with the good news in the dining room full of the restaurant staff, who congratulated him as the new chef of Coquette.
FN Dish caught up with the owners, Kevin and Stacey. Watch the video above to get an update from them about what’s taken place at Coquette since the show taped. Chef Bryant hasn’t yet been able to move to Raleigh, but he’s been in conversation with the owners about next steps with the restaurant once he’s ready to relocate.