Follies and Housewives – and Pascal, Part 1

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“Did you know that Chef Pascal Olhats is singing for his supper?” I asked Stasha.

“What are you talking about, Chris?”

What I was talking about is that the man behind Brasserie Pascal and Tradition by Pascal is trading in his spatula for a microphone when he sings and dances in the 14th annual CHOC Follies this weekend.

CHOC Follies, or course, is one of Orange County’s more successful charity events. It has raised more than $5 million for Children’s Hospital of Orange County since its inception. Every year, more than 100 prominent business, civic and society leaders from all over Orange County take the stage to sing, dance and show off their talents in a Broadway-style performance.

“Sounds fun – I want to be in it!” Stasha exclaimed.

“Well, maybe next year.”

For his part, Pascal says he wasn’t sure he had the talent to perform in the show, but now that they’re rehearsed and ready, he’s looking forward to it.

“I hope he doesn’t switch careers, because OC would lose one of the most creative chefs in Southern California!” Stasha exclaimed.

“Don’t worry, after this weekend he’ll be back in the ‘kitchen’ again.”

“We should go.“

“How about tonight?” I held up a pair of tickets.

The CHOC Follies is at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College, and tickets are available at the box office tonight and tomorrow night.

“That reminds me,” said Stasha, “we still haven’t written about our dinner at Pascal’s with hit producer Scott Dunlop, the creator of ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County.’ I know we were waiting to find out when the episode airs that features Pascal, but—“

“I think it’s airing this month,” I interjected.

“Then, now is the time to write it!”


Last year, Stasha and I attended the OC Press Club’s annual Journalism Awards Gala at the Island Hotel, at which Scott Dunlop was the keynote speaker. It was a memorable evening for several reasons: I won three awards, and I was the highest bidder for an unusual silent auction item that raised funds for the Press Club’s Journalism Scholarships: dinner with Scott Dunlop.

Scott graciously left the restaurant choice up to us, but after months of deliberating, we still had not decided. I bumped into Pascal at L’Epicerie and told him about our dinner dilemma. He insisted we bring Scott to Tradition.

On a chilly, Thursday evening, Pascal greeted us and guided our trio to a large corner table.

“Welcome to Tradition,” he said in his charming French accent. “I’ve prepared some special dishes to share, unless you would prefer to order individually?”

“I always respect the chef,” Scott told Pascal. “I trust your judgment. Usually, if I don’t like something I blame myself for ordering it, but…”

First up was poached oysters with shallots and crème fraiche, served on a bed of spinach, and paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.

“Very nice,” commented Scott after a sip of wine. “So, tell me how you two got interested in food and wine.”

“Ask the chef,” I said, nodding toward Stasha.

“You’re a chef?” asked Scott

“Was a chef … past tense,” she smiled.

Stasha enlightened Scott on her culinary background: working on private yachts, then spending a year as the personal chef to one of the most successful businessmen in the world.

She was explaining how she transitioned from cooking to acting when Pascal arrived with another dish: marinated herring on a warm salad.

“Remember Gustav Anders restaurant?” asked Pascal. “I used to go there just for the herring.”

“So did I, but this is better,” I said appreciatively.

“So your column is called Table for Two, correct?” said Scott in between bites. “I want to dine with you more often. You’ll have to create another column called Table for Three.”

“Well, you do know about spinoffs, right?” I laughed.

“The only reason to do an original is to do a spinoff,” replied Scott.

“That concept has certainly worked for your Real Housewives franchise, hasn’t it?” Stasha noted.

“It’s a popular show,” Scott admitted. “As the guy who created it, I know how the public feels and how the critics react. It’s such a simplistic show, but people have strong opinions about it and I find it interesting that people are so engaged in it.

“You can like it, you can hate it, but you can’t ignore it.”

Next week: Part two of our dinner with Scott Dunlop—more food, more wine, and more stories about The Real Housewives of Orange County.



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