Florent Marneau, chef-owner of Marché Moderne in South Coast Plaza. In 1990, Marneau was on his way to find a hotel gig in Tahiti but never made it after visiting his brother in Laguna Beach and talking to his friend, a regular diner at Tradition by Pascal. Introductions were made, and Olhats hired his 20-year-old countryman as a line cook that July.
Why not? Marneau had just finished working a year in Paris for Gaston Lenôtre’s culinary machine, and he had years of classical training. He enrolled in cooking school at 13 and had earned a certificate by 16. At 18, Marneau was serving officers during his mandatory military service.