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CHEF DU JOUR

He's Light on His Eat at Antoine

April 22, 1993|MIKE SPENCER | Mike Spencer is a member of The Times Orange County Edition staff. and

Jean Pierre Lemanissier is the epitome of the French chef; the name alone conjures up visions of delectable fines herbes, clafouti and bechamel sauce.

And if the name doesn't impress, the resume certainly should: an apprenticeship under the legendary Paul Bocuse in Lyon, chef de partie at London's famed Connaught hotel, sous-chef for the impeccable Jean Bertranou at L.A.'s L'Ermitage, chef de cuisine at Ma Maison, executive chef at La Tour d'Argent in Tokyo and for the past two years at Antoine at Le Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach.

So, where would you find Lemanissier on his day off? Try an Asian market. "I love to shop," he says, "and I enjoy preparing simple meals from the different kinds of fresh produce I find in those places."

And he's not into heavy sauces and cremes, either. "Like most people today," he says, "I am very health-conscious, so I eat mostly fish and chicken, very little red meat. But I have to confess that, like most people, I also love pizza and pastas."

Of course, as one of the pioneers of what has become known as California cuisine, Lemanissier is no stranger to light dishes, and they are what he continues to excel in at Antoine.

"Because we are a teaching kitchen"--his staff includes chef trainees from France and the United States--"we do a lot of experimenting," Lemanissier says. "And I like to be on the line, so there's a lot of talking going back and forth about foods and recipes and different dishes. Many of the dishes wind up as one of our six daily specials."

A good example is a shrimp and spinach salad. It's a simple dish of sauteed shrimp on a bed of shredded spinach that's glamorized by a topping of bell pepper relish.

SAUTEED SHRIMP

WITH

THREE BELL PEPPER

RELISH

4 tablespoons olive oil

24 medium shrimp

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch fresh mint

1 red onion

1 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar

1/2 pound fresh spinach

1 Belgian endive, leaves only

Heat olive oil in heavy skillet and saute shrimp until done (about 2 minutes). Reserve. Dice peppers, cilantro, mint and onion and place in large bowl. In a sauce pan, mix sugar and vinegar and boil until sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes). Pour over vegetable mixture. Shred spinach and place on plate. Surround with endive leaves and place four shrimp on each plate atop spinach. Spoon over relish. Serves 8.

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