Food News

Chef Jean-Marie Cadot: All in the Family

Jean-Marie Cadot, 43, of the Cadot Restaurant, is like a chef character out of a beautiful French film or novel, dashing and ridiculously well-versed in all things culinary. It's almost as if he couldn't have turned out to be anyone or anything else. No wonder. The Cadot family has been in the restaurant and baking business since 1758.

"My mother was born and raised in Hotel Bristol. Her father [Cadot's grandfather] built it," Cadot explains. "My great, great grandfather opened Le Boeuf a la Mode in 1800." Brasserie Mollard, le Londres in Versailles, and La Caravelle in New York are also family businesses. Cadot's grandfather and father were both bakers. And Cadot himself has been cooking and baking ever since he was a child.

"My grandmother bought me my first cooking book and I roasted my first chicken at age 9," Cadot explains. "We had a house in the countryside 35 minutes from Paris to the west. We were raising rabbits, chicken, ducks, guinea fowl, and we had a vegetable garden. I was hunting with my dad by age 7 or 8. I learned to prepare game at early age. By 14 I was doing it all." And every weekend his family would have at least 12 people gathered around their family table for dinner.

So, once he was of age, Cadot went off to cooking school. And the rest, as they say, is incredibly delicious history. After graduating from Ferrandi Cooking School and the Grands Moulins de Paris Baking and Pastry School, Cadot became an apprentice at Lasserre Paris.

His culinary resume is as long as his culinary pedigree. He became a seasonal pastry chef for L'auberge des Deux Sygnes, seasonal chef for Laurent, seasonal sous chef for Mercure Galant, seasonal chef at Royal Evian, chef at Potel et Chabot catering company, pastry chef at Pierre's Country Bakery, Sous chef at Calluaud's, sous chef at La Panetiere, temporary executive chef at La Caravelle, executive chef at Lavendou, consultant for Lavendou's sister restaurant Olea Mediterranean Cuisine et Tapas, executive chef for the openings of Pescabar and Cibus, and finally executive and owner of Cadot.

The first thing you notice when you walk into Cadot Restaurant is the amazing aromas of all the dishes being cooked in the kitchen and served in the dining room. The restaurant is full on a Wednesday afternoon and cozy despite the chill outside. Paintings done by Cadot's mother fill the walls. "People appreciate the old pictures and the history. It's more than just a restaurant," Cadot says. And when I watch him visit the tables, customers seem genuinely delighted to see him.

"Customers tell me the ambiance is always good here. Always consistent. They thank me for that." Cadot explains. "Of course, you always have some people who come in with an attitude. But that is difficult no matter what you do. Whatever you do is never right. My philosophy is to give them a glass of wine right away and tell them a day with no wine is a day with no sunshine."

Cadot enjoys working in his Far North Dallas location, though he admits he grows tired of folks who seem snobbish about going to restaurants north of LBJ. One of his favorite places in Plano is Urban Crust. "I went last week and fell in love with the pizza. My wife went crazy and went by herself. My partner is crazy for the pizza.... Everything [they do] has great flavor."

The same can be said for Cadot's food. Everything I ate had wonderful flavors. Duck confit springs rolls, which were ridiculously light and crisp and served with a sweet and syrupy apricot orange sauce. The lemon sole, Cadot's version of fish and chips with light crispy fish and skinny fries. Chocolate lava cake with vanilla custard, so pretty on the plate served with raspberries, which were especially delicious in the hot fudge that oozed from the center of the cake.

The menu is a surprising mix of classic French and modern American, and even includes hamburgers. He serves a bar menu complete with grilled cheese sandwiches. His goal, he says, is to give customers the best version of want they want.

Plus, he adds, "I opened Lavendou, and they still have the same menu. I didn't want to put on some of the same stuff because I didn't want the same as up the street. So I do some things like French onion soup on special. I get so many requests for it. Finally, I give up. But it took me six or eight months to give in. I did not give in right away."

One of Cadot's sons works at the restaurant as a host or busboy on occasion. "Sometimes if I ask him to work he says, 'As a host or a busboy?' I say, "A busboy.' He says, 'Why not as a host? You already have so and so and so.' And I say, 'I don't ask you who I have. I'm asking, can you work or not work?' [Cadot laughs.] He's 18 and 6-foot-5-inches. My other son is 16. I remember still them being little. I look at them now and say, 'Shoot. Where does the time go?'"

You can imagine Cadot's father saying the very same thing. You can also imagine him being very proud. How could he not be? The Cadot legacy continues.

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Jenny Block