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Home at the Range

The kitchen is the heart of the Tustin Ranch residence of chef Pascal Olhats and his wife, Mimi.

November 04, 2000|ANN CONWAY

In the spotlight: The California ranch style house of popular Orange County restaurateur Pascal Olhats and his wife, Mimi. Married for 23 years, the couple share their 5,500-square-foot Tustin Ranch residence with a nanny and three daughters: Magali, 13; Fanny, 12; and Pascaline, 8.

Believing in raising children in an atmosphere of simplicity and togetherness, the Olhatses view their five-bedroom dwelling "not as a showplace," Mimi says, "but a shelter where we eat, rest and spend time with our kids."

Heart of the home: With both of them chefs--they met at a culinary school in Brussels--Pascal and Mimi would just as soon be in the kitchen as any other room in the house. "We love being around pots and pans, sipping a glass of wine," she says.

Mimi cooks weeknights, while Pascal oversees the operation of his eponymous Newport Beach and Costa Mesa bistros, Pascual and Cafe Pascual.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 9, 2000 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Restaurant names--An article Saturday on chefs Pascal and Mimi Olhats contained incorrect spellings of the names of his restaurants. They are Pascal in Newport Beach and Cafe Pascal in Costa Mesa.

During the preparation of these home suppers, the children gather around the kitchen island to do their homework. "The good thing about California kitchens is they have tables inside of them," says Mimi, who spends summers with her children in a home she and Pascal own in the French countryside. "I like to be able to cook and at the same time answer the questions the children may have."

In the Olhats household, homework is completed before dinner is served. Afterward, the children set the table, "and we sit down for a meal that lasts about an hour," Mimi says. "The meal is very important; it's a time to learn what the children have on their minds."

On weekends, the family enjoys dining in the roomy backyard that is home to an herb garden--rosemary, thyme, marjoram and bay leaf flourish there--and a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and Pascal's beloved hammock.

"I love to cook for pleasure on Sundays," Pascal says. "I don't experiment; I just prepare simple foods like a steak and really good French fries."

The Olhatses cherish the time they spend at Sunday dinner with their children. "We talk, go into detail about each of our lives," Pascal says. "And sometimes we argue. It's our time to settle things--wrap up the week."

Fun and games: The family frequently teams up in the backyard for a round of petanque, a French game played with croquet-size steel balls on a sand court. "It's great exercise," Mimi says.

A cross between bowling and marbles, the game begins with the toss of a small wooden ball to mark a goal. Each player takes a turn tossing the steel balls to see who can get closest to the marker. "The trick is to not let your competition get too close, so you're always trying to hit his ball away with yours," Mimi says. "The girls always want to win, but those balls are pretty heavy and Pascal is pretty good."

Hobby room: With the kitchen table the center of the household, the formal dining room has become the spot where Mimi relishes a favorite pastime: making scrapbooks.

"I keep a scrapbook for each of the kids, and my papers are spread everywhere on the table," she says. "It's a constant project, an ongoing family history, that really helps you see how important your children are and how much time you actually spend with them.

"Parents seem to always be wondering if they're spending enough time with their kids," she adds. "And this is my way of reminding myself that, yes, we are having a good life together."

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at ann.conway@latimes.com.

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