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Enjoy Magazine

Show & Tel

03/19/2013 10:36AM ● By Jon Lewis

Chef Reynald Tel Brings the Restaurant Experience Home

Story: Jon Lewis Photos: Kara Stewart

Chef Reynald Tel is bringing a bit of French-style haute cuisine to Redding, and would-be gourmands everywhere are saying merci beaucoup.

“Amazing!” was the one-word review from Anne Petrie, who recently arranged for Tel to cater an eight-course dinner for 10 couples at a friend’s home. “We got dressed up and had a great time. The dinner lasted about three hours. It was a nice big event. Everybody was talking about how wonderful the food was and the wine was great.”

Redding realtor Skip Murphy had Tel and his crew cater a dinner party and says the spirited chef transformed the evening into an educational and entertaining affair. “We noticed he is very much a demanding perfectionist. He has really strong ideas about how it should be prepared, and what sort of garnishes, and he wants to tell you about it. That’s the funnest part, learning where the dish came from and what the flavors are he’s combining.”

Those firmly held beliefs and the desire to enlighten diners most likely stem from Tel’s formal training, which started with a culinary institute in Brunoy, a suburb of his native Paris, and training at La Barriere de Clichy, a traditional French restaurant.

Tel, 34, continued his education at other restaurants, working his way up the kitchen hierarchy while exploring different cuisines, including Italian, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, Australian and African. “I’m really attracted to French food, though. Coq au vin, escargot, crème brulee—those are my roots,” Tel says.

But like many French chefs, the cooking lessons started much earlier, at home in the kitchen. “I was always doing cooking at home with my parents,” Tel says. “It was a hobby and I decided to make it a profession.”

Tel’s parents grew up on Guadeloupe, a French island in the Caribbean, and were influenced by dishes favored by the African and East Indian descendants who populated the island. Those foods were prominent in Tel’s Parisian home, says Tel’s wife, Cameron Long-Tel.

“He grew up with curries, guava, fruit, dishes served on banana leaves. His cooking is so unique,” she says. “Anything from an amazing gourmet burger to Swedish food to French food to something from Guadeloupe. He shows his love through his food. It’s his art.”

In 1998, having visited the Big Apple on vacation, Tel decided to try his luck in the United States on a more permanent basis and moved to New York. He landed at 8 Mile Creek, an Australian restaurant that had just opened in Little Italy.

There, he started as the garde manger, or pantry chef, focusing on salads, cold dishes, desserts and appetizers while adding kangaroo, ostrich, prawns, wild game and other Down Under delectables to his cooking arsenal.

Tel’s other Manhattan ports of call included cooking at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant run by well-known chef Marcus Samuelsson, and La Goulue, a well-established restaurant on the Upper East Side that has been a backdrop location for episodes of “Sex and the City” and known to serve luminaries like Oscar de la Renta, Bruce Springsteen and Sigourney Weaver.

The well-traveled chef also has worked in Los Angeles, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago and Hawaii. It was in Los Angeles, while helping his cousin open a restaurant on Melrose Avenue, that he met his future wife Cameron, a Shasta High graduate who was operating a boutique across the street.

“He was there, but only for a little while. I had a boutique, he had a café. He served me food and it was kind of love at first sight,” Cameron says. “We got married pretty quick. We were in L.A. and moved to New York and then Portland and then to Redding. We were supposed to move back to New York because Reynald had an offer for an amazing position there, but I convinced him on staying in Redding because it’s a great place to raise the boys.”

The boys are the couple’s 2-year-old twins, Luca and Enzo; 3-year-old Hayden and Jericho, 10. “We call them Team Tel,” says Cameron, the social media and public relations director at LGH Marketing in Redding.

With Redding being a bit short on traditional French restaurants, Tel formed DeReynald Catering as a way to share his talents in his new hometown. The company has been busy catering everything from intimate dinner parties to large events hosted by commercial clients like CH2M Hill and the Shasta Regional Community Foundation.

The response has been enthusiastic, Tel says. “They are loving the food, the concept, the entertainment, and they love that they don’t have to leave the house to have that restaurant experience.”

Naomi Yamamoto, a marketing consultant with Results Radio, is a fan. She hosted a small party and enlisted Tel’s help. “The food was outstanding and the presentation was beautiful,” Yamamoto says. “From start to finish, I thought he was creative and professional. He followed through from setup to finish, and there was not a dish left in my sink.

“Everybody had a great time. That was one of the more lively parties I’ve had, and that was probably because I was able to enjoy it more. He’s raising the bar for catering in Redding.” • (530) 710-4098