The farm-to-table movement that’s sweeping the nation has also taken root in Idaho.
Restaurants that strive to achieve this distinction source a profusion of products from local farmers and ranchers for their seasonal menus.
But restaurants that actually grow the food that ends up on plates are more common in places such as Seattle and Portland.
That’s starting to change, though. In 2015, Chateau des Fleurs debuted near the Boise River in Eagle. Granted, the farm-to-table concept is still a work in progress at the European-inspired restaurant, Le Coq d’Or, and opulent event center.
“It’s evolving over time, for sure. We are not totally farm to table yet. Our goal is to have a restaurant that uses nutritional food grown nearby,” says Roshan Roghani, vice president of the Camille Beckman Corporation, which owns and operates Chateau des Fleurs.
“It’s more of an intent-based concept. We want to be as sustainable as possible and use what we grow without waste.”
It’s safe to say that Chateau des Fleurs is well on its way to this lofty culinary goal.
How it all started
Susan Roghani, Roshan’s mother and the founder of Camille Beckman, grew up Susan Camille Beckman in an agricultural community near Weiser.
From a young age, Susan Roghani developed a fascination with the natural world. She turned this passion for botanicals into a booming business that produces boutique-quality bath and body-care products.
“My mother has an herbal background, a more holistic approach to doing things,” Roshan Roghani explains.
“That belief is a big part of what we do at Camille Beckman and now ultimately at the chateau.”
Susan Roghani also grew up eating garden-fresh food, and once you get a taste for homegrown tomatoes, it’s hard to buy them at the grocery store.
She planted a big vegetable garden and fruit orchard near the corporate headquarters (on the same property as the chateau) more than a decade ago so her family and employees could enjoy freshly harvested food. The Roghanis also made space available so refugee farmers from Africa could grow produce and sell it around the Valley.
In many ways, the folks at Camille Beckman are keeping the farming tradition alive on the 38-acre spread, a scenic spot that used to be a dairy farm in the last century. There are still reminders of the past, including a weathered barn and various outbuildings.
Even though the farming part of the business is not officially organic, great effort gets made not to use pesticides and herbicides on the property.
“We opt to do things as naturally as possible. We’re out here picking weeds all the time,” Susan Roghani says as she waved at an employee working in an herb bed behind the chateau.
Besides a mature orchard that produces apricots, cherries, pears and apples, a large tract of land next to the barn contains rows and rows of crops. This is where you will find various salad greens, onions, potatoes, beets, carrots and more.
Farm manager Lisa Breiner, under the direction of the Roghanis, recently planted a multitude of herb beds around the newly constructed, multi-tiered terrace — behind the 18,000-square-foot chateau — and new garden space was added on both sides of the building. Mostly late-summer and fall crops, including assorted squashes and peppers, cover the ground here.
In the kitchen
Most of this impeccably fresh produce ends up in the hands of executive chef David Williams and his crew at Le Coq d’Or, the chateau’s fine-dining restaurant, who also use the produce for special events throughout the year.
Williams was promoted from sous chef to the head chef position in July after former chef Franck Bacquet parted ways with the Roghanis.
Williams, who’s been cooking professionally for more than 30 years, brings with him a wealth of culinary experience.
He grew up cooking in his home state of North Carolina, where his aunt and grandmother owned a café that turned out homespun comfort food.
“As a child, I was always in the kitchen. I remember standing on a five-gallon bucket and watching my grandmother make buttermilk biscuits,” Williams says with a soft Southern draw.
He turned his restaurant upbringing into a lifetime of cooking and chef positions. Williams picked up French, European and Creole cooking influences while working as a chef near Baton Rouge, La. He also spent time on the Florida coast, at a resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and in Alaska before moving to Idaho in 2014.
Williams was raised around agriculture, so the world of farm to table is hardly a new concept for him.
“David and his wife like to keep a big garden at home. They like to grow their own vegetables and raise their own meats,” Roshan Roghani says.
Coordinating what is grown on the property is a concerted effort. Menus have to get planned; space has to be made available to store the harvest.
“My mom works with Lisa and David to see what needs to get planted and used in the restaurant and elsewhere,” Roshan Roghani states.
The menu changes with the season at Le Coq d’Or, which will remind diners of their trips to Paris. Crisp, white tablecloths drape the tables, and the walls are adorned with artwork from 19th century painters. The service — handled by maître d’hôtel Christian LaMotte and his elegantly dressed crew — is as spotless as the stemware and flatware.
Autumn is a great time for produce, and Williams takes full advantage of what’s coming in the back door from the garden every day.
“I love late summer and early fall,” he says.
“You still have tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, and then fall time is when all the squashes come in.”
Williams recently unveiled his fall menu. For starters, try the baked eggplant parmesan (bathed in aromatic tomato sauce) and baked brie in flaky puff pastry with fruit chutney. Truffle ravioli with sage butter is another appetizer that will take you to a comfortable place.
Autumn-inspired salads include pear and Gorgonzola on field greens with tangy blue cheese dressing and roasted walnuts and an arugula salad with toasted almonds, red onion and white balsamic vinaigrette.
Don’t forget to try a bowl of French onion soup au gratin (see recipe, below) with a cheesy crouton on top.
New entrées speak to the season and Idaho with main courses such as elk bourguignon (see recipe, below), Basque-style sautéed rockfish and Hagerman Valley ruby trout (encrusted with artichoke, leek and parmesan) with garden vegetable risotto.
Finish the night with a bubbling crock of fruit cobbler or a wedge of velvety pumpkin cheesecake topped with walnut-maple glaze (see recipe, below).
Pastry chef Hugues Maitre, a fourth-generation baker from France, recently came on board to handle baking responsibilities, which includes desserts, crusty baguettes and more.
The well-curated wine list favors French wines, but you will also find plenty of vintages from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho’s Snake River Valley. The Roghani family even produces its own label of wine (mostly Chardonnay and Riesling, made by Greg Koenig) from grapes grown in the Roghani Vineyards just off Homedale Road in the Sunnyslope area of Caldwell.
Inspiration from around the world
Chateau des Fleurs itself is opulent and magnificent in so many ways. It’s a testament to influences from around the world. The multicultural belief of the Roghani family draws inspiration from places such as France, Italy, Hungary and England — along with other destinations the family has traveled to over the years.
“Right now the most obvious pieces are very European-inspired, as the bulk of architecture originates from these countries,” Roshan Roghani explains.
At first glance, the main building looks like a palace straight out of France, but upon further inspection it’s easy to see a wide array of global touches — from places like Iran, India and Japan — that give the building, especially the interior, its elegant nuance.
Once inside the front doors, a grand entryway leads the eyes down a wide, alabaster corridor bedecked with century-old paintings from Hungarian artist Mark Lajos and other fine art from around the world. A row of glistening crystal chandeliers hangs overhead, drawing attention along the corridor toward the grand terrace right out the back doors — unifying the indoor and outdoor spaces.
Two grand ballrooms represent their appointed color themes — Gold and Platinum — behind French doors. There are also two private dining rooms in the front of the building for more intimate events.
Because of this eye-popping elegance, Chateau des Fleurs has become one of the Treasure Valley’s most sought-after venue for weddings. Brides instantly fall in love with the Bridal Suite, a beautiful preparation area with ornate mirrors, plush velvet settees and chairs, and a claw-foot bathtub.
But the Roghani family wants the chateau to be accessible to everyone, and that’s why they offer more than just weddings and other private events.
“In Europe, all the villas and chateaus are either private or state institutions, which means the public can tour them but they don’t really get a chance to embrace a piece of them as their own by creating their own experiences there,” Roshan Roghani says.
The chateau strives to create an environment where people from different walks of life can enjoy each other’s company and feel like they’re part of something.
“The vision is to create an inclusive space where all ages, backgrounds, genders, faiths and races can come together to experience a place of timeless beauty and enjoyment,” Roshan Roghani says.
“That is where the event center aspect comes in, as well as the restaurant and afternoon tea. This is an architectural masterpiece people can actually be a part of.”
Chateau des Fleurs keeps a full calendar of public events (see below) throughout the year, and the high-end Afternoon Tea service (offered every Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and on one Sunday a month) has been popular with guests. Here, you can enjoy an assortment of hand-blended, exotic teas served with house-baked goods (scones and such), tea sandwiches and seasonal quiches.
Sharon Brown, a local poet and author, has been to the chateau for several special events, and she was especially impressed with her Afternoon Tea experience.
“I took a friend there, and we had a blast,” Brown says.
“We stayed for two hours and everything was delicious. People were dressed up, wearing fancy hats and all.”
James Patrick Kelly, the Idaho Statesman’s restaurant critic, is the author of the travel guidebook “Moon Idaho.” Kelly also teaches journalism at Boise State University.
Chateau des Fleurs
176 Rosebud Lane, Eagle
Le Coq d’Or
For reservations, call 947-2840
Restaurant hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Special events at the Chateau
Chateau des Fleurs offers lots of public special events throughout the year — everything from yoga retreats to grand holiday buffets. Check the website for details.
Thanksgiving (Nov. 24)
New Year’s Eve Masquerade
Persian New Year (March)
Bastille Day (July 14)
Grandparents Day (September)
Living Yoga Retreat (September)
French Onion Soup
Serves 6 to 8 people
2 pounds white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 quarts beef stock (broth)
1/2 cup dry or semi-dry white wine
1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound gruyere cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put oil in large-enough pan to hold onions on medium-high heat.
In a separate pot, pour the beef stock, and turn to medium heat.
When the pan is hot and just starting to smoke, put onions in and stir.
Turn pan down to low heat. Stir onions frequently. You want to caramelize onions until they become a deep, dark color.
Once the onions are darkened, add the wine and stir until evenly blended. The idea is to remove the pan from heat while adding the wine to prevent flare-ups, and then return to heat very shortly.
Add onions to your stock pan.
Don’t add salt or pepper while reducing any sauces or stocks. If you do, as the stock reduces, it concentrates the seasonings. Instead, wait until the stock is at the reduction, and then season in the end.
When the soup is to your liking, place in oven-proof soup bowls. Leave about a 2-inch space at the top of bowl.
Slice baguettes about 3/8-inch thick and place on soup, trying to get bread inside rim of bowls. Cover generously with shredded gruyere and place in oven until cheese is melted and golden brown. Consider using pan to place bowls on to make it easier to handle.
From Chef David Williams
Serves 6 to 8 people
2-2 ½ pounds elk, cubed about 1 inch in diameter (a muscular cut of beef works as well)
1 pound carrots, chopped large
1 pound celery, chopped large
½ pound white or yellow onions, chopped large
3-4 bay leaves
2 quarts beef stock or demi glace
2-3 cups red wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch (or enough to thicken sauce)
Herbs de Provence (assortment of dried basil, marjoram, rosemary and sage) to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil or canola oil
Assemble all your ingredients. The term for this is mise en place, or “things in place.” Do this for all your kitchen adventures before you actually start any project and life will be simpler.
Cube up all of the elk (or beef) and place aside.
Cut all of your vegetables and set aside. These do not have to be uniform in size, just small enough to fit into a bite. It actually looks more rustic to be roughly chopped.
Place stock on slow simmer in pot large enough to hold all of your ingredients.
In a sauté pan, place small amount of oil on medium-high heat.
When oil is almost smoking, add elk in small handfuls. Season lightly with salt and pepper while cooking.
Remove from heat when evenly browned and set aside. Repeat this until all elk is done.
Place elk and all vegetables in a stock pot, and add red wine and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, add additional seasonings (salt, pepper and herbs) and reduce to a simmer.
Here is where the methods can vary. You can place it in an oven-safe dish/pot and slowly finish in a 300-degree oven for 2-3 hours. Or you can finish it in a pot (on a stovetop) at a very slow simmer for about the same amount of time. The risk is that the elk can burn on the stovetop if you forget to stir it periodically. It’s unlikely to burn if it’s done in the oven, and you don’t have to constantly stir the pot.
Cook until the elk is tender; do your final seasoning adjustment at this time.
If the sauce is too thin, you may use a “slurry” of red wine and cornstarch to thicken sauce to your liking. Simply blend a small amount of cornstarch and red wine until smooth. Add it to your sauce while stirring constantly. Stop whenever you reach the desired thickness. Remove bay leaves (remember how many you put in) and serve immediately with warm bread. You could also serve it with any style of potatoes.
From Chef David Williams
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Walnut-Maple Glaze
Makes 12-16 slices (one cake)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely ground walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
24 ounces cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
14 ounces pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup medium-chopped walnuts (small pieces)
Melt butter until just liquid; mix with graham crackers, cinnamon and nuts. Press into 9-inch springform pan about 2 inches up the side of pan.
This step is optional: Some people like to pre-bake crust 5-7 minutes before adding filling. Personally, I don’t.
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until fluffy.
Now add all the eggs; beat on low speed until just mixed.
Fold in the cream and pumpkin. Folding is done by hand, usually with a spatula or spoon. Fold in until just blended. The appearance may appear broken. Don’t worry, though; it will cook just fine.
Pour mixture into your crust-lined pan.
This step is one I use; however, you can omit it. I use a shallow pan with about an inch of hot water in it. I place the pan with the mix in it and loosely cover with foil. This step usually helps to prevent cracks in the top of the cheesecake. The downside is that you have to deal with a pan of very hot water holding your cheesecake when finished. You can simply place on baking pan and put in center of a 375-degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Your time may vary depending on oven. The cheesecake will be done when the center has just a little jiggle when you shake it.
Cool on a baking rack. Let sit 15-20 minutes. I use a baker spatula or a very thin knife to slowly go around inside of pan, keeping the edge flush with outside. Then slowly release pan, gently removing the cake. Cool a minimum of 4-6 hours in fridge.
For the glaze, place the cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring it up in temperature until you see bubbles on the surface. Add the syrup and reduce about 25-30 percent, or to the consistency you like, stirring almost constantly, as the sugar in the syrup may burn. Cool and drizzle over the chilled cheesecake and top with walnut pieces.
From Chef David Williams