Jacques Qualin of J&G Steakhouse on Lori Hashimoto, Anthony Bourdain, and the Difference Between French and American Cooks

Jacques Qualin with signature seafood at J&G
Jacques Qualin with signature seafood at J&G

This is part two of my interview with Jacques Qualin, chef de cuisine at J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician Resort. If you missed part one, where Qualin talked about head cheese, being an apprentice, and working for Daniel Boulud, read it here.

See also: -- Hana's Lori Hashimoto Dishes on Brazilian Lobster, Magic Knives and Keeping It All in the Family -- Arizona Restaurant Association Announces the Finalists for the Inaugural Foodist Awards

Something always found in your kitchen: Fresh herbs.

Something never found in your kitchen: Okra.

Seared scallops, mixed spring peas, smoked butter, and lime syrup
Seared scallops, mixed spring peas, smoked butter, and lime syrup

Something always found in your fridge: Fresh ginger, beer, and nice white wine.

Trend you like: Eating healthy.

Trend or buzzword you wish would go away: Molecular gastronomy.

What's your guilty pleasure?: Homemade chocolate.

Do you eat like an American now or like a Frenchman?: Being here for almost 20 years, you have to adapt.

Typical breakfast for you: Orange juice followed by a freshly juiced vegetable (preferably organic from the farmers market).

What do you miss most about France (food or restaurant-related)?: Some of the food, like cheese and cured meat.

What are the characteristics a good chef must have?: Being fair and being very focused on what's going out of his/her kitchen.

Explain one difference in style between Boulud and Vongerichten: Two different styles: Boulud has a traditional French Lyonnaise cooking background, which reflects in all his food; Jean-Georges has his solid French base but is experienced in the Asian influences and kept the best of it.  

Chopped salad with avocado, apple, Maytag blue cheese, and pecans in red wine vinaigrette
Chopped salad with avocado, apple, Maytag blue cheese, and pecans in red wine vinaigrette

What have you learned from Jean-Georges?: Executing 5-star food for 200 people or more, in a night.

Name a giant in the American food scene (other than Jean-Georges) and explain why you admire this person: Anthony Bourdain. His TV shows are some of the few I watch. I like his franchise, and with his experience, he knows what he is talking about.

Name a giant in the French food scene (past or present) and explain why you admire this person: Monsieur Paul Bocuse. He was the first chef who was proactive on the PR and marketing side, as chefs at that time were only known to stay in the kitchen.

What Americans don't understand about French cuisine is . . . it takes time!

How do French cooks differ from American cooks: French cooks cook all the time, American cooks eat out.

Name a local chef you admire and explain why: Lori [Hashimoto] from Hana. The way she operates her restaurant and her incredible sourcing.

Name a favorite local restaurant and explain why: Sushi Ko. I'm very impressed by the freshness and authenticity.  

Caramelized beef tenderloin with dill-miso mustard sauce, carrot puree, and baby rainbow carrots
Caramelized beef tenderloin with dill-miso mustard sauce, carrot puree, and baby rainbow carrots

What's different about French food in Phoenix and French food in Paris?: I wouldn't know. If I want to have French food in Phoenix, it's usually my wife's.

Why did you move to the States?: I always wanted to see NYC.

What do you think of the American food scene?: It is evolving in a good way, with the move toward organic and the creativity of the chefs.

Describe France's current food scene: Always evaluating and looking for something new.

Did you have culture shock at first?: Very different landscape, and the heat -- what a shock!

Do you ever eat Mexican food? If so, where?: Carolina's. I like how they keep it simple.

What's your pet peeve in the kitchen: Lack of cleanliness -- I always keep an immaculate kitchen.

Last meal on Earth -- what would it be: My wife's chicken noodle soup.

Enjoy this Chef Salad? Check out Nikki's previous interviews with: Jacques Qualin of J&G Steakhouse Claudio Urciuoli of Noca Claudio Urciuoli of Noca Matt Pool of Matt's Big Breakfast Jared Porter of The Parlor Charleen Badman of FnB Tony Abou-Ganim & Adam Seger Charlotte Voisey of Best American Brands Ambassador Steve Olson of Valley Ho Dough Robson of Gallo Blanco Edward Farrow of The Cafe at MIM Greg LaPrad of Quiessence & Morning Glory Cafe Joshua Johnson of Kai Joshua Johnson of Kai Todd Sicolo of T.Cooks Josh Riesner of Pig & Pickle Lester Gonzalez of Cowboy Ciao M.J. Coe of Federal Pizza Steven "Chops" Smith of Searsucker Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis Michael Rusconi of Rusconi's American Kitchen Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Lynn Rossetto of The Splendid Table Cullen Campbell of Crudo DJ Monti Carlo Pete DeRuvo of Davanti Enoteca Chuck Wiley of Cafe ZuZu Justin Beckett of Beckett's Table Bryan Dooley of Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar Bernie Kantak of Citizen Public House James Porter of Petite Maison Johnny Chu of SoChu House Neo Asian + Martini Bar Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Chris Gross of Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge Chris Curtiss of NoRTH Arcadia Payton Curry of Brat Haus Mark Tarbell of Tarbell's Josh Hebert of Posh Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery Larry White, Jr. Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken & Waffles

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Hana Japanese Eatery
J&G Steakhouse

6000 E. Camelback Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251


Carolina's Mexican Food

1202 E. Mohave St.
Phoenix, AZ 85034


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