For Bouchon Bistro chef du cuisine David Hands, he is always reminding his team they are the last stop for the product before restaurant guests enjoy a lot of people’s hard work and dedication.
“It is up to us not to mess it up,” Hands says. “We have a responsibility to every farmer, packer, purveyor, driver, and store manager not to ruin the beautiful product that each and every one of them has cared for and given time towards. All we have to do is cook the food to the best of our abilities and let the natural flavor speak for itself. I feel that the menu and the team are always pushing for that goal.”
The restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills, adjacent to Beverly Canon Gardens and the Montage Hotel, has been serving classic French dining for about five-and-a-half years.
After nearly 20 years in Yountville, CA, Chef Thomas Keller decided to return to Southern California to bring his favored Bouchon Bistro cuisine to the city of Beverly Hills in November 2009.
Hands, who was part of the Bouchon Beverly Hills opening team, started as Sous Chef and climbed the ladder to Executive Sous Chef after six months then to Chef de Cuisine in October 2012.
His passion for the job is stronger than ever.
“Bouchon has a clean simple menu, what hides beneath the apparently simple dishes is a team dedicated to sourcing the best ingredients, cooking it to the best of our abilities and always striving to better ourselves,” Hands says. “We look at every dish to find the best way to cook it.”
Take the roasted chicken, a Bouchon staple and a dish that so many people across the world are familiar with in one way or another, Hands says.
“We look at every aspect of that chicken to create the best roasted chicken we can,” he says. “Our process takes four to five days in order to brine, dry, and roast the chicken, to create the crisp skin and moist meat. Our goal is for our guests to order the chicken, taste it and be flooded with a childhood memory of their favorite chicken. If we do this, then we have succeeded in our job.”
When asked about what his current favorite menu was on his ever-changing menu, he says it’s the Bibb salad.
“This is our simplest salad with just a few ingredients,” he says. “For me there is nowhere to hide on the dish. The flavors are not covered up, but stand proud and true to what they are. I don’t think you can beat a crisp salad of Bibb with vibrant flavors of fine herbs, a sharp kick of Dijon mustard vinaigrette, and a tang of fresh lemon juice. This is the most refreshing salad.”
He says he also excited because he’s about to implement a menu change on June 17, welcoming in the summer menu.
“As a chef, I love to see the seasons as they always bring new beautiful fresh produce,” he says. “So I guess the whole menu is my favorite right now.”
Hands says being part of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group is very special, saying Chef Keller has laid the path for him and his team.
“He has put in all the ground work with his dedication to the craft and the profession,” he says. “We are very blessed to have relationships with our purveyors that stretch over 20 years. I think because of this bond Chef has created we are all pushing for the same goals, to make our guests happy. There are so many examples of great relationships throughout our company.”
Reflecting on his profession and his love for cooking, Hands says some of the most important time that his generation is missing out on is family time.
“I remember growing up, always sitting with my parents and eating dinner, whether it was at home or at a local restaurant,” he says. “We are trying to bring this back by introducing Sunday Suppers. We want families to take the time to sit with each other, enjoy the company and create new memories. For me Bouchon is about sharing and caring for our community.”
Sunday Suppers runs from 4 pm to 9 pm every Sunday; $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.
This Sunday, June 21, the supper will feature grilled hanger steak with sauce au poivre, French fries, and haricot vert.
Bouchon is located at 235 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. For reservations or more information, call 310.271.9910 or visit www.bouchonbistro.com.