Career Spotlight with Ron Fougeray, the New Executive Chef at Surf & Sand Resort

It’s not just the world-class accommodations and unparalleled views of the Pacific at Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, California, that have guests eager to return time and time again, it’s also the food.

The luxury resort has an outstanding oceanfront restaurant called Splashes, which welcomed Ron Fougeray as Executive Chef in September.

“It’s been a pleasure welcoming Chef Ron to the West Coast and into our family at Surf & Sand Resort,” said Joanna Bear, Resort Manager. “His passion for food, and notable experience brings a fresh face to the resort’s culinary offerings, especially to Splashes.”

splashes restaurant laguna beach

The casual vibe at Splashes, combined with his top-notch cuisine, make for a delightful dining experience.

New menu specials include:

  • Tartare of Albacore -pickled strawberries, jicama, cucumber ribbon, horseradish, strawberry vinegar coulis
  • Wild King Salmon with olive oil-poached, black barley risotto, verjus emulsion, apple & watermelon radish salad
  • Grilled Lamb Loin with celery root purée, cipollini and apple tatin, brussels sprouts julienne, natural jus

Recently, Chef Ron was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his background, what dishes his family raves about, and most significantly, his love for the culinary arts.

FTK: Describe the menu at Splashes.
Chef Ron Fougeray:
My training is in French cuisine but I’ve designed the Splashes menu a little different. I use the many French techniques and recipes I’ve learned while putting a modern twist on the flavors. We are known for having seaside fare, which is seafood geared. i still embrace those cooking techniques while making a soup/sauce/stock to extract as much flavor as possible. Food doesn’t have to be heavy to be packed with flavor and have layers that compliment each other. In other words, it’s California French — if there is such a thing.

Tell us a little about your experience at Le Bec Fin.
Le Bec Fin… how many pages of stories do you want? When people ask me where I went to school, I usually respond Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, but the real answer is Le Bec Fin. It was an institution of learning. Every person from the world famous Chef Georges Perrier to the dishwashers are over-the-top passionate about their work. The kitchen was full of young, hungry, eager to learn and conquer the universe chefs. That being said, it was at many times an extremely chaotic work environment. Le Bec Fin was the pinnacle of French cuisine in the country for many years — almost 40! It is extremely tough to stay on top for that long when there are so many others also striving for excellence.

As for my personal experience, I offered to work for free just to get my foot in the door. I did this for three months before finally being offered a paid position. The next six years were extremely hard work. But when I finally walked out the door, I was a different person. I learned many techniques and ideas about cooking, but also about life. Chef Georges and I are still dear friends to this day and I couldn’t be more grateful that I was given the chance to work underneath him and his fleet of chefs.

Where did your passion for food come from?
I remember taking an interest in cooking at a young age. I can remember my mom cooking home style pastries, such as her famous apple pie. It had a crust that was so buttery and flaky. She also made sugar cookies which had a spoonful of warm strawberry jam in the center. I started watching the techniques and she would tell me the importance of the small steps that many others would skip. Those steps are what separates the great dishes from the good ones. The first time I realized I wanted to do this as a career was after taking a culinary arts class in 10th grade. I made a white chocolate fruit tart, which my teacher told me was one of the best dishes she had ever seen made in her program. I don’t know if she was being kind (maybe it was awful) or sincere but it sparked my interest even more when I saw that smile on her face.

What is the absolute best thing about being a Chef?
Creating dishes that put smiles on faces.

When it comes to food, what is the ultimate pairing combination for you?
For me it depends on the season. However, I’m always up for an aged bone-in rib eye with a great glass of Cabernet or Bordeaux.

What’s the first dish you remember cooking?
I’m sure it’s not the very first things I made, but I remember cooking for my parents’ anniversary when I was probably around 15. I made them the sugar cookies my mom had made so many times, along with some other pastries. Their response was so enthusiastic, and I took a lot of pride in that.

When you’re not doing the cooking, what’s your favorite thing to eat?
Growing up in New Jersey, I can remember going out on my dad’s boat and catching fresh flounder or crabs. We would take them back home and just keep the meal simple. Pan sauteed with salt and pepper, butter, parsley and some lemon. That was great. Other than that, my wife makes some mean chicken enchiladas.

When visiting a farmer’s market, what’s one thing you can never leave without purchasing?
Again, this depends a lot on the season. In the summer, I’d stop at one of the many stands on the way home from those fishing trips. In late August, Jersey tomatoes and white corn are the sweetest and best I’ve had. I’ll usually grab some strawberries, too.

Which of your dishes does your family request most often?
Well, my son is two so he is often requesting chocolate chip pancakes, which I cook for him at least once a week. My wife loves my whole roasted chicken with chantrelle maderia fricassee. And my parents are huge shellfish fans, so anything with lobster, scallops, or shrimp would work well for them.

What’s the best advice about being a chef you have ever been given? What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a young chef?
I’ve had many great mentors in the 16 years I’ve been cooking. They have always stressed work ethic, attitude and having a passion for cooking. Over time, you learn the speed and the techniques if you possess the right demeanor. I try to stress the same to my young chefs. The restaurant business is a demanding one. You must really love what you do. I’ll take a young chef with a great attitude over one with knowledge that is unwilling to change old habits.

For more additional information on Chef, the new menu at Splashes, or to make reservations at Surf & Sand Resort, you can go here. Surf & Sand Resort is located at 1555 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California, 92651.