We had the good fortune of connecting with Ron Fougeray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ron, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I feel from a young age I had amazing mentors, both personally and professionally – from the work ethic and the positive attitude that my parents taught me, to hands-on work within operations at some of the best restaurants in the country. I’m truly thankful for these core qualities that I was able to take with me wherever I moved to. At Splashes, I again inherited a leadership team that was nothing but supportive and truly allowed me to cook with my soul. Thankfully, our guests’ palettes seem to enjoy my love of cuisine.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
This question can’t be answered in a couple of sentences. Although everyone’s journey is different, I feel mine was particularly challenging. It was anything but easy.

When I started on my path to becoming a chef, it was much different than it “appears” now. The glamour, the flare, the wages… There was Emeril on the Food Network and some crazy French and English chefs that were icons, but in general, being a chef/cook wasn’t considered prestigious. For that reason, I don’t think my parents thought it was a wise career choice. But like most things in my life, I’ve always followed my heart. I set all my energy towards that. I neglected my 20s, my family, and my friends. The restaurant became my family. I had a solid job working as a line cook at a place called the Blue Angel, a pretty cool French bistro owned by Stephen Starr and run by Chef Kanter. Chef Kanter was a prior Le Bec Fin alumni. He told me that I needed to go to work at Le Bec – don’t take no for an answer. So I went for my first interview with Chef Stern… At that time, I was 21 with a chip on my shoulder the size of a mountain and a work ethic to match. I had two years of culinary school at JWU and around three years of experience working on the line, so I felt I knew how to cook. Wrong. Chef told me “I have nothing to offer.” I remember it like yesterday. I wasn’t taking no for an answer. I offered to work for free – a decision my dad was always dumbfounded by, but I didn’t care – I needed to work there. I had to keep my PM job to pay for gas and bar tabs. I spent most of that time crashing on a buddy’s couch who lived in Philly. After three months of working for free, I was finally offered a job as a pantry cook making $9/hour! But I was in! I ended up spending six years there. Moving from free commis to sous chef after two years, and to CDC before leaving for a BQT Chef Job at Table 31. Not my cup of tea! I left there and went back to work for my previous Executive Chef from Le Bec Fin. Chef Pierre and his wife, Charlotte, were just opening a small spot called Bibou in South Philly right next to the Italian market. I think what the opening vision was for Bibou and what it evolved into was quite amazing… 32 seats and the menu changed weekly. Everything from scratch! Everything… and we did it with just the two of us until we added one pantry cook. It was amazing. Brutal hours… the hardest work you could imagine, but we had so much pride to be the best that hours didn’t matter. It truly prepared me for any challenge that I would face in the future. Instead, I smile and know that Bibou created a warrior. My philosophy is to cook simply, use the finest product you can get your hands on, be the best, work the hardest, sweat the most, and don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do.

When I came to SoCal, I searched high and low for the right position. Life is all about timing. Upon leaving Philadelphia, I was saying my farewells to a regular guest at Bibou. The next table overheard I was moving to OC and they told me about their friend who operates a wonderful hotel in Laguna Beach. I made the connection with her and as fate would have it, the chef had recently given notice. I think it only took about two days to get the offer to join the team from the time of my tasting. The F&B director asked me a question that I will never forget. “Chef, how can you expect to run a hotel with 40 culinarians when your last employment was only three?” My answer: “We made close to 80 covers a night with exceptional cuisine. We were one of the best restaurants in a city full of hungry, talented, cocky chefs. We did that with three cooks. What do you think I can do with 40? Seven years later, I’m fortunate enough to be holding the corporate executive chef position and overseeing all our culinary operations. It takes a team and I’m truly thankful to have so many wonderful leaders and professionals around me.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think we are so lucky to live in a place where many people would come to vacation. The beach up and down the coast is gorgeous. I love the feeling of being close to the ocean breeze and enjoying all the sites. Fishing around Catalina Island, surfing any of the popular breaks, or just enjoying the sand and gathering around a firepit. As far as eating and drinking, Broadway is one of my favorite spots – great cocktails and an awesome chef-driven kitchen with solid dishes. I also really enjoy Marche Moderne, and Jeune et Jolie in Carlsbad.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As mentioned above, I credit my parents. Core qualities like work ethic, attitude, leadership, and mental and physical toughness are important to engrain at a young age. Aside from that, I feel there are so many amazing chefs/cooks/dishwashers that I owe credit to. You can learn from anyone! Some of the bigger names you may recognize are Chef Georges Perrier and Chef Pierre Calmels.

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Image Credits
Surf & Sand Resort

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