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Jolie’s chef developing culinary plan for new biz

Jolie's chef developing culinary plan for new biz

The former executive chef of Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro is now developing the dining services for a new luxury senior living facility.

Gregory Doucet was contacted by the executive director of The Blake at Lafayette just after the public announcement that Jolie’s would close its doors forever on Valentine’s Day.

“It just seemed like the best opportunity and one that’s going to be a little different than what I’m used to,” Doucet says. “It’s a chance to grow. I’m ready to get started, see what I can do, see how far we can go with this.”

The Blake won’t offer the typical scoop-and-serve cuisine you might expect from an assisted living and nursing home facility. Instead, The Blake at Lafayette, which is on track to open in May, is focusing on restaurant-style dining services and culinary experiences rooted in culture.

“We’re like the cruise ship that never leaves the dock,” says Susan Begnaud, executive director of The Blake. “We want to offer activities, dining experiences and things that embrace the culture of Lafayette. That’s the reason we’ve hired Greg to be our director of culinary services.”

Doucet, 27, started at Jolie’s as a line cook in 2009 and worked his way up to executive chef in 2013 before the restaurant closed.

Time spent in the kitchen at Jolie’s helped Doucet realize he didn’t want to continue studying business at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette but instead culinary arts at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. Doucet earned his bachelor’s in culinary arts in 2012 from the program.

“One of the things I really liked when interviewing Greg is that his food is about pleasing people,” Begnaud says. “And I think that’s a really strong statement when you’re talking about an executive chef in a facility like ours…He wants to really please people with his food.”

“That’s what the hospitality industry is all about,” Doucet chimes in. “And if you’re a chef and you’re not doing that, then you’re just lying to yourself.”

What is the most people-pleasing food you can make?

“Around here, you can’t go wrong with a gumbo or a jambalaya, basically anything you can cook in a big pot outside and just kind of talk and hang out while eating together,” Doucet says.

That’s why The Blake plans to offer boiled crawfish in the courtyard on Fridays during Lent and other communal dining experiences in addition to the regular restaurant-style dining and coffee and ice cream shop.

Doucet is still developing menu ideas for The Blake’s dining services, which will include daily breakfast, lunch and dinner specials with 10 to 12 rotating a la carte options per meal.

“What’s intriguing about this is that it’s not just day-in, day-out the same old thing,” he says. “I’m sure there will be some dietary restrictions, but I want to keep things as creative and imaginative as possible. If you had to eat at the same place every single day, it would get boring. I want to keep it fun and moving.”

Some of Jolie’s most familiar menu items might even make an appearance now and then, according to Doucet.

“It’s nice because I can be face-to-face with the clients and ask them what they want,” he says. “I’m looking forward to getting on a friendly basis with all of these residents and just playing off of what they want.”

The senior living community can accommodate about 130 residents. The Blake’s monthly room rental, which starts at $2,500, includes high-end furnishings and finishes, chef-prepared meals, maintenance, transportation, events and other amenities.

“It’s very much like the style you’d find in the River Ranch community,” Begnaud says. “But our pricing is comparable to most assisted living facilities across the state. We just offer that unique experience.”

Nine locations of The Blake are currently or soon-to-be operating in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

Begnaud expects four to five locations of The Blake in Louisiana by the end of 2017. In addition to Lafayette, communities are planned for Baton Rouge, Bossier City and Thibodaux.

The Blake at Lafayette will be located at 400 Polly Lane. Learn more about retirement, assisted living and memory care options by visiting blakeliving.com or calling 337-993-8898.

Originally published by The Advertiser, Photo by Scott Clause/The Advertiser