small place in the country | food

La Bécasse thrives on French cuisine
By Jerry Dietz | May 14, 2022

At La Bécasse in Maple City, French country cuisine is the star Cause of existence Which keeps Chef Guillaume Hazel Maceo in his kitchen and fills the dining room with satisfied diners.

Restaurant La Bécasse, under different ownership and name, has been serving French food for over 40 years, with Chef Guillaume and his wife Brooke taking over in 2005 from the previous owners. The restaurant was formerly known as The Woodcock, the French translation of the name of the bird is lumberjack.

“Woodcock very much represents the hunting traditions of Europe,” explains Chef Guillaume. “It’s famous for its purple, earthy and very red flesh, and for the quality of its flesh.” (Three-quarters of Woodcock’s diet is made up of protein-rich earthworms, hence the color. The other quarter comes from other creepy stuff.) La Bécasse’s name is found in restaurants in France, Belgium, and the UK, and famous French-Japanese chef Yoshinori Shibuya has his own version in Osaka.

Close your eyes and think of France
French comfort food is best enjoyed in a traditional setting, with the effortless and authentic vibe of rural France where chance may lead you to the perfect meal. La Bécasse embodies this spirit: an elegant exterior, unadorned except for the blue and red trim of the French tricolor and flower-filled window boxes. Inside, tables feature white linens, simple table settings, and small flower arrangements. The dining room comfortably seats 40 to 45, and the outside patio, which was recently expanded, can accommodate up to 40 patrons. (New this year in the yard: La Bécasse happy hour, called Apéro, short for Aperitif.)

Everything at La Bécasse is fresh and home made. Ingredients and supplies – sourced locally and mostly organically grown – showcase the rich and diverse whole food movement that northern Michigan is known for. You’ll find greens, herbs, vegetables, flowers, berries, chives, beef, pork and poultry all turned into a European delicacy. Chef Guillaume explains, “I prepare my kitchen on French styles and styles, sauces, gravies, and artistic styles, but I also organize whatever I have, what’s available, and what the local taste likes.”

The carefully curated menu is representative but not overwhelming, and offers the best of French cuisine, from Beef Burgundy, Escargot Beurre de Bourgogne, and rich Country Pate, to dishes that evoke the chef’s cosmopolitan experience.

Two favorites on the menu are Duck Duo (roasted duck breast, duck leg confit, and sweet potato gratin, with vanilla demi-glace) and Veal Noisettes, with a creamy mushroom sauce and potato gratin. Seasoned restaurateurs know dessert is a must: Warm chocolate cake and profiteroles, both with Belgian chocolate sauce, are top choices.

In addition to full bar service, diners can choose from over 250 wine selections – red, white, rose, sparkling, and champagne – with a heavy emphasis on French wines, but including a strong representation from California, the Pacific Northwest, Argentina, and Chile. You can also find some great offerings of terroir closer to home from vineyards such as Chateau Fontaine, Amoritas Vineyards, L. Mawby, and 45 North.

La Bécasse’s cellar holds over 2,000 bottles, plus another 1,000 old bottles in their cages. “That’s a lot of wine,” admits Chef Guillaume. It is the type of vault that collects awards and honors from the most prestigious wine spectator: La Bécasse has been recognized for 10 of the 15 years they chose to enter their wine list.

cultural exchange
Born in Paris to a French mother and a Western Indian father, Guillaume Hazaël-Massieux absorbed the traditions and flavors of both cultures which came to enrich his career. His mother grew up in Alsace, where she lived only 5 kilometers from the German border, where she learned simple but delicious country recipes.

“Alsace-Lorraine is a great culinary region,” he says, whose cuisine blends influences of both France and Germany. As a child, Chef Guillaume also lived in the West Indies for a while and was “largely influenced by West Indian dishes”. At La Bécasse, a version of his mother’s Onion Tart is on the menu, while the Caribbean influence is at Sea Scallops with Salsa and Sweet Potato Puree.

But he was studying and training at the École des Beaux-Arts and Fine Arts in Lyon, France, where he was supervised by celebrity chef Paul Bocuse, making him the chef he is today. (The strict international culinary school is now known as L’Institut Paul Bocuse.) Bocuse has been at the forefront of new cuisine, focusing on fresh, light, uncomplicated dishes sourced locally and beautifully plated. Guillaume explains, “Paul Bocuse cleaned up the basics, changed from very heavy sauces to lighter sauces, and gave [French cuisine] Some young people.”

Chef Guillaume has adapted his professional training and the influence of Bocuse’s style seamlessly to the realities of a small kitchen. Chef adds, “Bocuse had a huge staff. There might be 20 people in the kitchen, where there might be one person in charge of anything but green beans. Everything is done perfectly, but it is not sustainable.” [on a small scale]. “

Lucky for us, La Bécasse has found the perfect setting for rustic simplicity and technical sophistication.

when you go
La Bécasse serves 80-90 dinners on a typical summer evening, so reservations are a must. They also offer curbside pickup and catering for special events, both on and off site, depending on the schedule. Be a subscriber for information on special events and wine dinners.

Find La Bécasse at 9001 S. Dunns Farm Rd, Maple City. restaurantlabecasse.com, (231) 334-3944.

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