When I first met Chef Cedric Barberet, it was obvious through his still-distinct accent that he hailed from France.
I soon learned he was born and raised in Lyon, France’s third-largest city and capital of the department (roughly equivalent to a state) of Rhône. During my first encounter with one of Lancaster’s newest hot chefs, he pointed out the Quenelle De Brochet on his menu as being distinct to the region where he grew up.
Recently named one of the world’s Top 10 pastry chefs by Dessert Professional Magazine, Barberet focuses on the front of 26 E. King St., where he creates astounding and beautiful pastries and treats. He came to Lancaster via Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach
(yes, that’s Donald Trump’s place) and Philadelphia’s world-famous (but now closed) Le Bec-Fin.
Barberet has employed Chef Tyler Boell to run the 50-seat bistro and bar located in the back of the pastry-focused storefront. Boell claims luck has helped land him in some of the illustrious positions in his career.
“I got very fortunate with some of the opportunities I’ve had,” says Boell, who has trained under some of the East Coast’s top chefs.
He hand-delivers my dish.
Quenelle De Brochet is a white fish soufflé, and it is served as a small plate at Café Barberet. Technically, the dish features something called “forcemeat,” which may sound rather unappetizing. However, the term simply categorizes a preparation technique that uses a mixture of ground or puréed meat — in this case white fish — more commonly related to sausages and pâtés.
The fish is a gentle, light mix wrapped in a set of airy, cylindrical, soft pastries. “Melt in your mouth” is a phrase that’s been overused in writing about food, but it genuinely applies here. My fork easily passes through the dish and delivers a new and wonderful sensation to my mouth.
Despite all the unique flavors surrounding the dish, the delicate fish remains the star.
The original French dish features a sauce Mousseline – aka sauce Chantilly – which incorporates beaten cream into a hollandaise sauce. To top the Barbaret version, the Chef took a more savory route and created a red pepper and tomato purée, which gives the dish a true feel of southeastern France – closer to Italy than Paris. He also incorporates finely chopped black olives into the dish. They add a sweetness, which works perfectly with the puree to both compliment and contrast the minced fish in the Quenelle De Brochet.
I followed Chef Boell’s suggestion to pair the dish with a glass of Barton and Guestier Champagne, topped with a lemon peel twist. The bubbly complimented the subtleness of the fish perfectly, making the sauce resonate with an herbal yet delicate punch.
“I love the rustic appeal of this dish,” Boell says. “The French — when nouvelle cuisine was becoming popular — took what was once considered a peasant food and elevated it to the level of fine dining.”
I couldn’t agree more. The simplicity of the dish makes it heartwarming,
while the complexity it involves provides a flair of flavor.