In an exciting bit of news for Chef Jacques Larson fans, he has taken over as executive chef at the Wild Olive, Fred Neuville's Italian restaurant on Johns Island. Larson took the helm last week and is sincerely excited to be working with Neuville, a chef/owner who's committed to using local produce and purveyors.
"Especially on Johns Island," says Larson. "We're in the heart of it. There's a Montessori school project out here that tends a huge garden that supplies a lot of the produce. Then there's Fred's ties to Ambrose and Thackerary [farms]. We get a lot of the first pickin's."
And first pickin's are an essential part of regional Italian cooking, says Larson who seems to have a mutual admiration society going with Neuville. Larson's thrilled that Neuville's committed to presenting a seasonal menu, and Neuville is excited to have his favorite Italian chef taking over the kitchen at Wild Olive.
"My wife and I used to go to Cintra and eat," says Neuville. "I loved his veal cheek ravioli so much that I introduced myself to him. When he was at Union Hall, my wife and I would go there regularly. We followed him to Mercato and ate there regularly. We just loved his food."
Larson will be tweaking and transforming the menu in the coming weeks. Neuville promises, "He has a free hand, as far as I'm concerned."
As they head into the fall, Neuville says they'll keep their top ten sellers and then make changes from there. Larson is looking at adding plenty more pasta dishes to the menu and gradually making some pasta in-house.
The two share the same philosophy as far as managing a kitchen goes. "Success is measured plate to plate," says Neuville. "We don't want any guest of ours to leave unhappy. If they're unhappy, we're unhappy."
Expect plenty of happy Johns Islanders as Larson settles into his new kitchen.