LOCAL Houston | The City Guide August 2016 - Page 41

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE + LEISURE
During that full day off cooking her mother ’ s recipes in Claiborne ’ s “ dream kitchen ” – eight courses in all – Routhier won over Claiborne , as well as his two other guests – Jacques Pepin and a random Contessa ( his Long Island neighbors ).
“ Claiborne set up a table with a typewriter in front of the kitchen , and just observed me while typing away ,” she remembers . “ He didn ’ t have much to say but Jacques Pepin was raving about every dish ! Can you imagine ? The most famous French chef in the world ?”
When the glowing article he wrote about her appeared a few weeks later on the cover of the “ Living ” section , Routhier started receiving messages from agents , publishers , reporters and well-wishers from around the world . “ Here I was still in school at the Culinary Institute of America , one week away from graduation , and people were asking me to write a cookbook ,” she marvels .

But if you never risk anything , you never win anything .

Instead , she focused on finding a job – and she did , at New York ’ s famed Sarabeth ’ s Kitchen , as a line cook . Within two years , she was the restaurant ’ s chef . However , the idea of writing a cookbook had never left her mind . “ I went back to one of the agents who contacted me and he agreed to help me put together a proposal to publishers . So , after work at the restaurant , I would write down my recipes , which was difficult , because all that I knew was in my head or my palate . You practice by tasting ... in Vietnam we didn ’ t have printed recipes . It took almost two years to test every single recipe to make it perfect ,” she says .
When her book , The Foods of Vietnam , came out in 1989 , it got rave reviews . It featured more than 150 recipes from the various regions of Vietnam , ranging from simple family dishes to elaborate banquets . There were sections on ingredients , the cuisine ’ s history and ordering a meal in a Vietnamese restaurant . It was also the first of many cookbooks Routhier has penned since , focusing on traditional Vietnamese ways and flavors to keep the country ’ s culinary roots alive .
Today Routhier , now a Houston resident with her husband and an instructor at Central Market ’ s cooking school , is taking that respectful and traditional approach to the menu she and the team are creating at Le Colonial , the newest outpost of the famed New York , Chicago and San Francisco chain of fine Vietnamese restaurants . “ I ’ m trying to maintain the traditions but give the food a fresh look and modern presentation .”
Speaking of Le Colonial in New York , Routhier herself developed the menu there 20 years ago , and the menu you see there today is pretty much the same as the one she invented . “ The dishes became so popular and successful that they kept them on ,” she laughs . When the restaurant decided to open in Houston , the owners tracked down Routhier and asked her to be the culinary director and partner . “ Houston is a great culinary city , with so many restaurants and a thriving Vietnamese community . This is our opportunity to showcase the cuisine a little differently . Like I said , ‘ If you don ’ t take risks , you never win .’” With Routhier in charge , Le Colonial is going to be a winner .
Le Colonial | 4444 Westheimer Rd . | Houston , TX 77027 | www . lecolonialhouston . com
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FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE During that full day off cooking her mother’s recipes in Claiborne’s “dream kitchen” – eight courses in all – Routhier won over Claiborne, as well as his two other guests – Jacques Pepin and a random Contessa (his Long Island neighbors). “Claiborne set up a table with a typewriter in front of the kitchen, and just observed me while typing away,” she remembers. “He didn’t have much to say but Jacques Pepin was raving about every dish! Can you imagine? The most famous French chef in the world?” When the glowing article he wrote about her appeared a few weeks later on the cover of the “Living” section, Routhier started receiving messages from agents, publishers, reporters and well-wishers from around the world. “Here I was still in school at the Culinary Institute of America, one week away from graduation, and people were asking me to write a cookbook,” she marvels. But if you never risk anything, you never win anything. Instead, she focused on finding a job – and she did, at New York’s famed Sarabeth’s Kitchen, as a line cook. Within two years, she was the restaurant’s chef. However, the idea of writing a cookbook had never left her mind. “I went back to one of the agents who contacted me and he agreed to help me put together a proposal to publishers. So, after work at the restaurant, I would write down my recipes, which was difficult, because all that I knew was in my head or my palate. You practice by tasting...in Vietnam we didn’t have printed recipes. It took almost two years to test every single recipe to make it perfect,” Today Routhier, now a Houston resident with her husband and an instructor at Central she says. Market’s cooking school, is taking that respectful and traditional approach to the menu When her book, The Foods of Vietnam, came out in 1989, it got ]H]Y]ˈ]X]\Y[ܙH[ MLX\\HH\[\Y[ۜوY][[™H[\H[Z[H\\[Xܘ]H[]Y]ˈ\B\HX[ۜۈ[ܙYY[HZ\[x&\\ܞH[ܙ\[HYX[[HY]\H\]\[ ]\[H\وX[H؛]Y\\[Y[K\[ۈY][ۘ[Y]\H^\[]ܜšY\H[x&\[[\H[]KH[HX[H\HܙX][]HۚX[ H]\]وH[YY]–[ܚXY[[[\Z[و[HY]\H\]\[ˈ8'x&[HZ[›XZ[Z[HY][ۜ]]HHH\[[\\[][ۋ'BXZ[وHۚX[[][ܚ]Y\\[][YHY[H\H YX\Y[HY[H[HYH\H^H\]H]XH[YH\HۙHB[[Y 8'H\\X[YH[\[X\ٝ[]^H\[Hۋ8'HB]Yˈ[H\]\[XYY[[\ۋHۙ\XYۂ]Y\[\Y\HH[[\H\X܈[\\8'\ۈ\HܙX][[\H]K]X[H\]\[[H][Y]\H[][]K\\\ܝ[]H\HHZ\[HH]HY\[KZHHZY 8&Y[H۸&]ZH\[H]\[&x'H]]Y\[\KHۚX[\[HH[\HۚX[ \Z[Y\ \ۋ ˛XۚX[\ۋB]Y\ MH B