Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice
Already the answer to a trivia question ("name the only American chef, and also the youngest, to ever head the kitchen at the Ritz Carlton in Boston?"), California native Mark Allen is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who opened an eponymous restaurant in Napa Valley at the tender age of 28. Now he's chef-owner of Le Soir in Newton, MA—seven miles west of Boston—which debuted in 2001. "His style is both precise and lush," says The Boston Globe. Le Soir is "an exceptional dining experience," concludes Food & Beverage International.
You seem to have an enviable rapport with our photographer (at right).
Connie is a professional photographer who is also my girl friend.
Has she shot you before?
Not like this. She primarily does weddings. She's...she's a new friend.
Your place looks new as well.
It is. It's a condo out here in Newton. I'm still in the process of moving in.
You've had the restaurant for, what, almost four years?
Yes, but I did a reverse commute until now. My home was in Boston's Back Bay.
But you're a Newton boy now.
I was lucky to find this place. Real estate is crazy in Boston.
How is it working out?
In a way, it's perfect. I'm only a five-minute-drive from the restaurant.
Because I'm so close now, people call me to run over when something goes wrong.
Do you use the kitchen here much?
Quite a bit. I seldom cooked in my old place, but the kitchen here is much better.
What's on the menu when you do?
I keep it simple. We'll grill steaks or burgers out on the patio; we'll have marinated duck breast every once in a while.
Is there a big favorite?
Steamed clams with chorizo.
What might you eat after work?
If I don't get out until 12:30 a.m., then I like to get late night sushi at Fugakyu in Brookline. If it's earlier, it's hot dogs and beer at home.
Get much time off?
We're closed on Mondays, Sometime I'll take Sunday, too.
So then there's time for a weekend getaway for the two of you.
In a way. We go to a house in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, that my family has had since we were kids. The whole family will be there, too.
And you cook for the gang?
Oh, no. My father cooks. I learned a lot from him.
We've got to ask you about the honeycomb.
It's a great accompaniment to cheese. We offer five honey choices with our cheese course at the restaurant. Most guests take the honeycomb.
How about this dessert?
Connie's Lemon Icebox Pie? It's awesome. She uses condensed milk to make the lemon filling creamier, then puts meringue on top.
Same principle as key lime pie.
Yes. Hey, it's one of the reasons I fell in love with her.
Now that's what we call a testimonial!