Sunday, September 21, 2014

5 Course Dinner at the Chef’s Table at Rezaz featuring the Foods of Provence

Recently we discovered that Rezaz, a Mediterranean restaurant and one of our favorites, in Asheville, North Carolina offers the opportunity to dine at the Chef’s table in their kitchen. It’s something we’ve always dreamed of doing, so several weeks ago when we were having lunch at the restaurant, Meakin inquired about it and learned that Rezaz offers a 5 course tasting menu for up to 12 people. The menu is personally created for you by Chef Reza himself and can be coordinated to your personal taste. You know our love of France and in particular the Provence region, so I’m sure it doesn’t come as as a surprise to you that we requested a menu designed around the foods of Provence.

We invited two other couples to join us for the evening – Meakin’s brother Stuart and his wife Sandy and friends David and Penny, of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen, who is one of my favorite food bloggers. I know many of you follow Penny’s blog. Penny and David have visited Provence numerous times as have we and we all both know and love the food of that region.

Photo of Chef Reza Selayesh courtesy of Rezaz website

The concept of the Chef’s Table came about from the fact that chefs work long hours and also want to see their friends and families, so they would often feed them in the kitchen as they prepared meals for the other guests of the restaurant. The Chef’s table gives you an opportunity to be part of the family as you dine beside the “line” and under the “Pandelier,” photo below, a very interesting & unusual large metal sculpture that was created from Chef Reza’s original sauté pans that he used during the restaurant’s first decade.

The afternoon of the dinner Penny and David invited us to visit them at Lake Lure for the afternoon of hors d’oeuvres and wine and a boat ride around the lake. Penny prepared a wonderful selection of delicious appetizers including leek and sweet pepper mini French quiches, a simple platter of peppered dry-aged salami with hot house cucumbers, and a creamy red pepper cheese cake accompanied with crackers and grapes that I absolutely fell in love with. David poured a French Rose wine that kept the French theme going. Here’s a link to Penny’s blog with pictures and recipes.

On our arrival at the restaurant Chef Reza warmly greeted each of us personally as we entered his kitchen to welcome us and shook our hand before we were seated at his Chef’s table. Our waiter explained that the chef runs a quiet kitchen (unlike what one might think from the reality cooking shows seen on television today), and he went on to say that of course we were free to talk and have all the fun we wanted. I found the quiet kitchen interesting as Jacques Pepin recently shared his thoughts about the reality cooking shows on television in an article in The Daily Meal titled “How Reality Shows Get It Wrong” link here. This is a direct quote from Jacques in the article: “The so-called “reality” cooking shows are, if anything, totally unreal. A real, well-run professional kitchen has dignity and order. If cameras went into Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, or Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago, they would see a kitchen that is well organized, with a contented, dedicated, hard-working staff.” 

At dinner we sat across from our respective spouses – from bottom left to bottom right – moi, Meakin’s brother Stuart, Penny & David, Stuart’s wife Sandy, and Meakin.

Here are some shots of the kitchen at work at Rezaz. Notice how important mis en place is in a professional kitchen in the first photo. Julia Child used to say you have to be happy to cook when you cook for the food to be good. Notice how happy everyone seems to be working together in the kitchen.

Rezaz’s Chef’s Table 
5 course Tasting Menu 
Featuring the Foods of Provence

Smoked salmon rillette
Trout & crab galantine
Moule Curry

Pan seared sashimi grade cobia a la Provençal
Sautéed French gnocchi
Seared scallops with Rezaz’s signature arugula pesto
Summer vegetables ratatouille

Duck leg confit topped with sautéed spinach
& crispy fried shallots 
With a cherry gastrique sauce
Roasted Yukon gold potatoes

Grilled lamb chop
Lamb Naverin
Gigot d’agneau with French thyme and wild rosemary

Summer berry clafoutis
Lemon & berry sorbet garnished with touile cookie

Notice the attention to detail and how generous the portions are. Any one of these could have been my main meal.

We began the meal with smoked salmon rillette, trout & crab galantine & a moule curry.

Pan seared sashimi grade cobia a la Provençal sautéed French gnocchi, seared scallops served over a summer vegetable ratatouille.

Duck leg confit topped with sautéed spinach & crispy fried shallots with a cherry gastrique sauce, accompanied by roasted Yukon gold potatoes tucked under the duck breast.

Three different lamb dishes - a grilled lamb chop, lamb Naverin & gigot d’agneau with French thyme and wild rosemary served with Rezaz’s signature arugula pesto.

A summer berry clafoutis and a lemon & berry sorbet garnished with a crispy touile cookie. When we last dined at Rezaz, we met the pastry chef. She was trained in several various Le Cordon Bleu locations before settling in Asheville. As you can see, she is quite talented.

It was a fabulous evening and one I think we will all savor and remember for a long time. The servings were generous, the staff very attentive, and the food quite remarkable. Chef Reza is a very talented and highly dedicated to quality and customer service. I would highly recommend Rezaz for lunch or dinner or a private party when you are in the area. Also don’t miss taking a tour of the Biltmore Estate & Gardens when you are in Asheville. Rezaz is located very near the Biltmore Estate. I wrote about our visit there a couple of years ago, link here. You won’t want to miss it.

Rezaz Restaurant & Wine Bar is located in Biltmore Village at 28 Hendersonville -Road, Asheville, North Carolina. For reservations phone 828-277-1510.  Here’s a link to their website where you can obtain additional information, have a look at their menus and read about Chef Reza. Rezaz can also be found on Facebook and Chef Reza writes a Journal featuring various menus here.

Penny is also writing about the dinner and I highly recommend that you stop by her blog as well. We coordinated our posts to coincide to enable our readers to see each other's pictures and read about the dinner and the evening from two points of view. Here’s a link to Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen.

For better viewing – click photos to enlarge


  1. Great food and lovely place!



  2. I love all of the pictures that Meakin got of the kitchen. We enjoyed the whole evening immensely. Great write up Sam.

  3. What a fun fun outing.
    he looks like such a nice man too.
    I love Monsieur JP's quote.I could not imagine working in a chaotic screaming kitchen.
    You forma very handsome table..And the prelude at the lake..
    Quite a hard day to top!:)
    Going to peek at Lake Lure:)

  4. Oh my! I'm gastronomically speechless! I'm in agreement with Pepin's comments. I never watch those reality cooking shows. I can't imagine anything worth eating being rendered in such surroundings.


  5. A beautiful and delicious experience Sam. Catherine xo

  6. Looks like you were treated to a very special meal and unforgettable experience Sam-enjoy:@)

  7. It must have been a great culinary experience! That sautee pan sculpture looks beautiful.

  8. Sam, What a great experience! On top of that, the food looks absolutely fabulous... Thanks for the restaurant tip too as we will make it over to Ashville one of these weeks. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  9. As I said on Penny's blog, the food looks spectacular and what a treat to get to eat it at the chef's table - leave it to Meakin to turn a meal at a restaurant into a very special event. Always fun to share time with Penny and David.

  10. I don't know how you guys did it after cocktails at Penny's! Mon Dieu, what a feast. I have never eaten at a chef's table but I bet it must be quite an experience. Just to watch the workings of a professional kitchen must be quite an experience. I bet you picked up a trick or two. Asheville has grown so much since I lived in Hendersonville 40 years ago. I hear the restaurants are fantastic. Must make a trip there soon and stop at Rezaz. Love the look of that duck confit. Bet it was perfectly cooked!

  11. What fun Sam. I gave up on the food network when the reality shows started. I wanted to learn technique, not all that craziness that goes on. I do not understand how they draw such an audience.


  12. So glad to know this. Next time our "foodie" son visits we will call ahead and try the chef's table.

  13. What a fun event! I've been to only one dinner like this and it was most certainly memorable. It all looks great, but I would loved to have tried that lamb offering. Thanks for sharing Sam.

  14. What a fabulous evening, Sam! I was amazed at the portions...usually tasting menu portions are quite small. Was wondering if they paired wines?

    1. Barbara, yes they are happy to do wine parings. We chose our own wine instead because one of our party doesn't drink and it made more sense. Rezaz has a very fine wine selection.

  15. What an amazing experience Sam. How wonderful to share it with family and friends. Yes we do know Penny.

  16. How wonderful that meal looks! We have eaten at Rezaz and loved it (also at their Enoteca next door) But the Chef;s Table looks amazing!

  17. Now that is my idea of an amazing evening. Watching chefs do their magic, chatting with great friends, and eating incredible food!

  18. What a fun experience at a restaurant you had, Sam! The food all looks delicious and how great to experience dining in the kitchen. The reality cooking shows seem like a mess to me, too much confusion for a kitchen. Thanks for sharing this. We need to travel to Asheville!

  19. well look at you! The chef's table! Now that is awesome! yeah! The food looks out of this world amazing. what a wonderful dinner to have with friends:)

  20. wow, definitely lovely and delicious lamb dish, i'm a lamp person and i'm craving some now....
    the saute pan metal artwork looks beautiful, like a space building in a star trek movies

  21. Everything looks so beautifully and exquisitely prepared and plated. I love duck leg confit and would love to recreate that dish at home! Great food, great friends ;)

  22. What an exciting evening! That must have been heaven for a gourmet like you. The menu looks excellent and so mouth-watering. I can understand that your palate will remember this meal for a long time.

  23. What a delightful and deliciousl afternoon and evening you had Sam! I love Asheville and all the fabulous restaurants, this looks like a gem!

  24. Hello Sam

    What a treat to dine at Rezaz. It all looks so delicious and the copia and seared scallops are calling me right now.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I have not been to Asheville but will add it to my list
    Helen xx

  25. What a lot of fun and Asheville was perfectly in the middle between your place and Lake Lure. We'll be heading over the hills your way in a few weeks to hang out with my folks in Franklin, I want to try that place next to the gas station if it is still open.

  26. Swoon. Yes. That sums it up. Total swoon. Will check Penny's blog.


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