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Chef Talk: Stephane Pierre of the Polo Grill and Bar

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Stephane Pierre of the Polo Grill and Bar.

Stephane Pierre of the Polo Grill and Bar.

Drawing from more than 25 years of global culinary experience, executive chef Stephane Pierre oversees the fare at the Polo Grill and Bar and Fete Catering & Ballroom (10670 Boardwalk Loop, Bradenton. 782-0899; pologrillandbar.com). Pierre is a Belgian native who began his career in Brussels, went on to serve Belgium’s royal family, and later lived in Dubai. He immigrated to the United States in 2011, and in the fall of 2013, began infusing the Polo and Fete menus with his worldly flavors.

Tell me briefly about your upbringing and culinary training.

I spent three years in culinary school in Belgium and received a diploma from the Gaston Lenotre school in Paris. I worked in various Michelin-starred restaurants with specialties in French cuisine and gastronomy. After my military service in the Belgian Special Forces Group, I worked for a large catering company, working my way up to executive chef at 23. Two years later, I started my own catering company. I’ve been a Belgium certified master chef since 2005. When I was 40, I was presented with an opportunity to work in Dubai (a dream of mine since I was a teenager).

When did you know you wanted to become a chef, and why?

When I was young, about 12 years old, my parents and I went to restaurants every week. I was curious to see what happened in the kitchen. One night, I went missing, and after a few minutes of looking, I was found in the kitchen, sitting on a chair in the corner, watching the chef. To see this man with such professionalism and organization was a great experience for me and I had so much respect for him. When I returned to my parents’ table, I told my father, “I want to become cook, a great cook!”

What was one of the most memorable meals you ever made, and why?

During Bill Clinton’s visit to the royal castle in Belgium, I was responsible for the gala dinner. Everything had to be perfect, with a very strict protocol in place. We had to prepare stuffed individual tenderloin for 1,200 guests. Another memorable meal was at an event with all the heads of the United Arab Emirates, when I worked for the royal family of Dubai (the Al Maktoum family). It was the most wonderful experience of the three years I was there.

How has the Polo Grill's menu evolved recently?

I love working with Tommy Klauber. We often work together to find new recipes, flavors, new local food items and new cooking processes. We want to help local farmers because their products are fantastic. For instance, recently, Tommy introduced me to local clams—jewels of this area. It has been a pleasure to cook them and find new recipes that incorporate them.

What are some of the most popular items on the revamped menu?

We work with 95 percent local, regional or domestic foods items. We build our menu with dishes that are distinctly American, but I like to infuse a European touch with decorations, garnishes and colors. Our skewered meatballs are made from a typical Belgian recipe, cooked for two hours in brown beer, and they’re a big hit. The recipe from Tommy for honey chipotle chicken wing lollipops is perfect—an All-American recipe with a twist, courtesy of Tommy. And one of our signature dishes, the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, is an incontestable success. I think, really, that our customers benefit so much from having two chefs at the Polo Grill; it allows for so many more ideas.

SKEWERED MEATBALLS (120 pieces)
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 French baguette
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons garlic
¼ bunch chives
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup dark beer
1 cup veal stock
1 pear
1 apple

Method:
Cut baguette into small pieces and add milk. Pour the bread into an electric mixer and create a homogenous paste. Add the meat, garlic, chives, salt and pepper. Make the meatballs the size of golf balls. Surround the meatballs with flour on the outside and mark them in oil. Reserve the meatballs. Deglaze with beer, and add veal, honey and small cubs of apples and pears. Cook slowly for 20 minutes. Put the meatballs in the sauce and reserve them in the fridge. Reheat the meatballs with gravy.

 

Last modified: March 31, 2014
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