At the Sofitel Chicago Hotel, Stéphane Postoyan has been a sous-chef for about four years. Under his supervision, about 35 other junior sous-chef, comis and kitchen staff, are preparing the banquets and other delicacies for this luxury hotel. Stéphane is on the clock from the breakfasts at the “Café des Architectes” through lunch, while overseeing banquets ordering. On a busy day about 500 lucky ones will have a taste of his cookery.
Chef Postoyan’s story:
His professional career is a slice of the “American Dream”. When he started culinary school at fifteen, he had no idea this would lead him to the land of opportunity. He is born in the village of Bourgoin-Jallieu, in France, nearby the French gastronomic metropolis Lyon. He started to cook for his family as young as twelve years old, enjoying getting meals ready for his parents and brother. One of the first signature dish was chicken breast with morel mushrooms, “a classic”, he says.
As he teenager, it was very obvious to him he would go to a professional cooking school rather than following the traditional academic path. He wanted to work in the kitchen. During his first years of training, his boss and first mentor, Monsieur Morel, taught him butchering and charcuterie skills. His mentor was friend of many renowned Michelin starred chefs of the Lyon area, Guy Savoy, Troigros, Bernard Loiseau, Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon. It was extremely lucky for Stéphane to approach from up close all these confirmed chef étoilés (Michelin starred chefs). At 18 years old he would be part of the three stars ceremony in Paris for Guy Savoy.
After receiving his diploma in Boucherie/Charcuterie, Stéphane chose to change his focus to Pastry. He found that the necessary precision better suited his personality. For four years, he worked to be a pastry chef, hence becoming a very versatile chef for both sweet and savory cuisine.
Full of diplomas and experience, when his wife got a job in the United States, he followed her starting his conquest of America. His biggest challenge would be to learn English since he then did not speak a word of it. Within weeks he managed to interview for Jean Joho, chef of Everest and the Ritz Carlton Four Seasons Hotel where he started to make vienoiseries and pastries for the lucky hotel guests. One of his fond early memory working at the Ritz is to meet Bill Gates visiting the hotel.
Stéphane dreams big and opened his own company “Your Personal French Chef”. For about two years he loved catering to small parties in Chicago bringing his skills and savoir-faire within private homes. But when Martial Noguier, renowned executive Chef of Sofitel asked him to come onboard, he could not pass on the opportunity. Almost 10 years after coming to Chicago, he is an accomplished leader and manager for others at the Sofitel. His recent stay at the Sofitel Philadelphia is proof, where all the staff he trained could not stop the praise.
When at work Stéphane has to taste all day long the balance of each food prepared. You can see some great examples of his preparations below. This also means he will cook on the lighter side at home to stay balance. See below his recipe.
His favorite quick meal recipe:
Grilled sandwich with Arugula salad. Get his recipe right here on OhlàlàFood
His best cooking tip:
Whatever you do, “always have good sharpened knives”. They don’t need to be the priciest!
His restaurant tips :
When off work, Stéphane is happy to be off the grid away from fancy eateries and will go to neighborhood restaurant like Deleece for its simple yet delicious fares. “It’s a way to stay grounded to the basic”, says Stéphane. For ultimate indulgence and special occasions, Acadia restaurant stays his favorite in Chicago. He appreciates the informal and polite style of the staff coupled with the delicate finishes of each dish.
Thank you Stéphane for sharing your story. This is truly inspiring and it is only the beginning!