Restaurants

Inside a World Renowned French Chef’s Big Texas Comeback

The Mansion’s Sebastien Archambault on Texas’ Surprising Frenchness, Early Frog Legs and His Favorite American Muscle Car

BY // 09.21.18

Born in Lubbock, Texas but raised in the Périgord region of France, Sebastien Archambault has returned to Texas after more than 40 years to serve as the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek‘s executive chef. While he has helmed some of the finest kitchens in the world — including Corisca’s Restaurant Le Pirate, where he earned a Michelin star — his genuine, warm personality and reverence for simple, authentic ingredients make him a beautiful fit for one of our city’s top restaurants and our favorite former residence.

What makes Archambault tick? Let’s just say it ranges from fast cars to French baguettes.

Earliest kitchen memories.

My first memory is at about five years old — I was doing an apple pie on a little wooden table with a Texas flag. I remember it very well. I was always helping wash lettuce, peel potatoes. At 12, I had my first station in my parents’ restaurant: frog legs sautéed with butter, garlic, and parsley. It was simple, but I love doing that. I’ve always loved the camaraderie in the kitchen, the ambiance, the fire.

The dish that transports you somewhere else. 

The tomato salad we just put on the menu. In the summers in Périgord, my grandmother would cut the tomatoes at 10:30 in the morning, season them, and let them sit for an hour and a half. I would go with my grandfather to buy a fresh baguette, and rub it in the tomato sauce while it was still warm. To remind people of something they love is important to me.

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Vital ingredients. 

For me, it’s tomatoes, mozzarella, and olive oil. This is my go-to dish when I’ve finished my service and I want something. And basil, of course. And I love butter.

Top food city. 

I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo and it was an amazing discovery of variety and freshness. It’s a different world — I was amazed over there. New York City blew me away by the richness of the mono-product shops. So if you want to do a full dinner, you have to go to maybe four or five shops — but you experience the best of what they do. And Paris, for me, is not just about the food, but the buildings, the ambiance, the feeling…

Texas vs. France.

The region I’m from in southwestern France is very rich food-wise — the farms, the foie gras, the beautiful mushrooms. It is a rich farm way of living and the people are very close to the earth and very proud of there region. Here in Texas, everyone is very proud to be a Texan and of what that represents. There are a lot of values that are very similar.

American food you just don’t understand. 

The French dip! I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it. I had to Google it to find it was invented in America. But it’s good!

Your spice. 

The Espelette pepper. It’s a little chili from the South of France. I use it to finish dishes right at the end, so when you bring the dish out to smell, it adds this little coating of flavor — a little heat.

Your cocktail. 

I like the gin and tonic we are doing on the [Mansion’s] terrace. It’s amazing. For wine, I like cabernet sauvignon or a beautiful red, and in the summer, rosé from Corsica. They are light, beautiful, the color is amazing — they are the best.

On the road. 

I love antique cars. Old American muscle cars are beautiful. I drive my ’76 Corvette every day from Frisco. It’s so cool.

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