There’s something inherently romantic about French cuisine. Charcuterie, pâté and crème brulée just sound elegant as they roll off the tongue. And the lovely tastes and textures can leave even the most discerning palate with a feeling of euphoria.
In the Grand Traverse region, lovers of western European fare have two locations to savor the flavors crafted by Chef Guillaume HazaëlMassieux, a graduate of École des Arts Culinaires et de l’hôtellerie (now known as L’Institut Paul Bocuse) in Lyon, France. Drawing inspiration from his youth in the West Indies and adapting French country recipes of his mother’s, Paris-born Hazaël-Massieux honed his skills at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, as a corporate chef for Steelcase and executive chef at Restaurant Toulouse in Saugatuck.
In 2005, he and his wife, Brooke, moved to northern Michigan and purchased the established country inn La Bécasse (the woodcock) on the Leelanau Peninsula. The simple menu of traditional appetizers and entrees (escargot with beurre de Bourgogne, grilled lamb medallions) is complemented by an extensive wine list, including many coveted bottles hand-picked by the chef.
The couple ventured to downtown Traverse City in 2012 to open the trendy Bistro Foufou in a former firehouse. The menu is more extensive than at La Bécasse, and the setting is relaxed and lively, as reflected in its name. “Foufou means hummingbird in Creole,” explains Hazaël-Massieux. “It literally translates as crazy crazy, which is a way of calling the bird because of its crazy flying patterns.” At Bistro Foufou you can slurp oysters on the half-shell, graze the popular happy hour small plates menu and sip a Hummingbird— sparkling brut with elderflower liqueur—at the long bar or small patio during warmer months.
As the seasons change and temperatures cool, the menu heats up with hearty favorites such as ratatouille, beef bourguignon and cassoulet. Themed dinners from September through May are a delicious way to experience French fare paired with regional wines.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 fall/winter issue of Experience Michigan magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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