Three and a half months after Chef Banks White left Five restaurant at Berkeley’s Hotel Shattuck Plaza to take up a new post in Harlem, Stephane Tonnelier has been named the restaurant’s new executive chef. Tonnelier, who has Parisian roots, was most recently executive sous-chef at Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco. He has worked as a saucier at the world-renowned Hotel Georges V in Paris, and as a sous chef under Michelin-star chef Denis Schneider. Berkeleyside Nosh caught up with him as he got settled into his new post.
What prompted you to take this new post?
The excitement of being able to bring my passion for cooking and creativity to such a beautiful environment offered by Five restaurant.
How would you describe your cooking style? Do you have favorite culinary styles/foods/chef mentors?
My cooking style is an integration of the best of French and Californian cuisine. I have spent the last 26 years of my life cooking, the first half in France and the last half in California. I have been privileged to work with, and learn from, great chefs in two different worlds. I will say that French Californian is totally my inspiration and it gives me the immense pleasure of being able to mix flavors from different continents on the same plate. Some of my favorite chefs who have inspired me are Guy Savoy, Michel Roux and the chef who taught me when I was an apprentice, Philippe Delacourcelle. I also consider Nancy Oakes (from Boulevard and Prospect) a mentor.
What are your impressions of Berkeley as a restaurant scene?
Berkeley is definitely growing actively on the food scene and is eager and ready for new up and happening restaurants that can satisfy people’s appetite for a large variety in the choice of cuisine, combined with the freshness and quality that people are looking for.
You said you are going to take your time before releasing a menu. Is it likely to be a departure from Chef White’s southern-influenced California cuisine?
We will start from fresh, using local-grown produce with different combinations and techniques and a mix of flavors that will bring more of a French-based accent to our new American creations.
What’s your favorite dish to eat at home on a night off? (Wait, do you ever get those?)
My wife’s original, and unique, Thai cooking ( I particularly like her phat thai and curry).
Five restaurant is at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza at 2086 Allston Way, Berkeley.
Five chef on his time in Berkeley: A great journey (05.06.13)
Nosh on the Town: Five restaurant (02.26.13)
Twelve drinks a drinking: Reasons to rejoice at Five (12.12.12)
Six Berkeley restaurants snag Michelin Bib Gourmands (10.18.12)
Five’s Banks White: Berkeley ‘keeps me on my toes’ (06.17.11)