Main Line Today associate editor Dawn E. Warden pulled French-born chef Dominique Filoni away from Stephen Starr’s bustling Parc for a quick tête-à-tête. The highlights from their chat are below. (For more on Filoni and Parc, check out November’s Epicure feature, “Temptress on the Square.”)
MLT: As a chef, what do you think characterizes a great meal, and how do you translate that to the customer?
DF: I believe a great meal is about the company, the setting and the cuisine—how all of those elements work together. It could be a nice quiche and a glass of wine, or a gourmet three-course meal, but if the company and setting are not right, then you will not be able to enjoy it to its fullest. We want every meal at Parc to be a great meal. It’s important to be consistent and make sure that the quality of our product is the best. This translates from the food to the servers, to the back of house, to those greeting you at the hostess stand. We want to make sure that, from start to finish, the customer has the best experience.
MLT: What came first: the concept or the chef?
DF: Stephen created the concept for Parc first, based upon the space and what he felt would work.
MLT: Everyone is raving about the fresh-baked bread. It’s a noble undertaking in an already mammoth operation. Do you see it as a must for Parc’s distinction as a true French bistro?
DF: Parc is the first Starr restaurant to bake its own bread on premise. Our pastry chef, Frank Urso, put the program together. The bread is one of the most important aspects of the Parc experience because it is a testament to our authenticity as a French bistro. Every brasserie and bistro in France has top-notch bread to serve patrons, and at Parc, it is no different.
MLT: Is it a challenge to retain the caliber of cooking you are used to in such a high-volume environment?
DF: It is always a challenge when you come from a different background in terms of volume, but we are thrilled with the success of the restaurant. When you have the right people and a strong team, you are able to overcome any challenge.
MLT: Have you adopted any timesaving measures?
DF: Everything at Parc is cooked to order. We want our food to be fresh and made right; there is no way around that.
MLT: How does it feel to be back in Philly?
DF: It’s great. It is like coming back home. I’m from Saint-Tropez, but Philadelphia is my second home. It has been great to see how the city has changed since I left, and meet back up with old friends and acquaintances. Philadelphia is a great place to be.