Esterel at the Sofitel LA

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A satisfying, delicious lunch for 300 to 400 calories is not impossible.Bento

“We want to offer great tasting meals with low calories, a meal that would fillyou up and not just a green salad with a squeeze of lemon,” says Executive Chef Marius Blin about the De-Light menu at Esterel at the Sofitel LA at Beverly Hills. The chef has succeeded where many others have gone before without coming close to the flavor and beauty of his dishes. The transformational menu is inspired by a 50-year French Thalassa concept of mind and body well-being with water therapy practiced in several international Sofitel locations.

It’s also an idea requested by customers. Blin reports that business guests who stay up to 120 days a year want and need healthier options for room service. He delivers by extracting the most flavor from each calorie and is still creating new options.

A recent sample menu: golden tomato gaspacho 30 Cal, pink beet salad with grapefruit 72 Cal, halibut, compressed basil watermelon, mache, sangria reduction 119 Cal, and silken panna cotta, Grand Marnier macerated berries 48 Cal; total only 268 calories!

Blin researches constantly to find foods that fit into the low calorie and nutritional goals of his lunches. He found seafood, shrimp and chicken to be the lowest per ounce in calories for protein. He found a zero percent fromage blanc in France but has since sources from Bellwether Farms in northern California.

The 30 minute four-course lunch costs $24.

Chef Blin was raised in Normandy, France, adored his grandmother’s garden-fresh cooking and garnered culinary skills under French master chefs. He also worked in London and Texas before moving to California. He’s been at the helm of Sofitel LA’s kitchens since 2002.

exterior sofitelThe Sofitel’s ambiance is sleek, hip and modern (see photo). The lobby is animated with black and white photography by Frank Worth, a friend to many of his subjects. The gallery of old Hollywood glamour encompasses a fetching young Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant and Kim Novak dancing and a clowning Bob Hope with a menacing Marlon Brando.

The duvets, pillows and other accoutrements that make sleeping here a sumptuous pleasure are available to purchase. The mattress is topped with a feather bed for consummate cushioning described in the helpful brochure as “soft cocooning”.

Interview with Chef Blin

What was your first hospitality job?mariusGT

I was working in a very good restaurant in my home town called La Butte aux Cerfs. I was an apprentice (at best) for the summer season. Without any experience I was probably more of a drag than help. But it taught me a lot about the industry commitment, dedication, respect, discipline, how exciting the business can be and how hard it was.

If not a chef, what would you be?

Probably working in a creative industry. Chefs always come up with lotsof ideas. We like to work under pressure but also tend to changeourminds a lot.

What are some ways you keep the calorie count low on the De-Light menu?

Pick what’s in season and you will find fruits or vegetables full of flavor that don’t need much more to be tasty. Use more fish and seafood which contain fewer calories than meat. Find a substitute like tofu, 0% fromage blanc. We are lucky to be inCaliforniaand in a health-conscious city so a lot of low calorie products are at places like Whole Foods among others.Finally, if you are really serious about it, banish oil, butter, sugar. And stick to one serving for each course. Don’t go back for more.You can always be like me a bit more curious when reading labels.