How a Frenchman with a passion for food found his home in Orange County
“We came here in 1982 on vacation for a couple of months to visit a friend’s son, who owned a restaurant called Paula’s in Newport Beach,” restaurateur Pascal Olhats recalls.
Pascal was born in Rouen, in the Normandy region of France, and raised by a father who co-owned a small trucking business and a mother who loved to cook.
“My dad and mother were very strong people,” Pascal says, “who went through some very hard times during WWII, and after the war enjoyed life and had lots of friends. Many of those friends would show up unexpectedly and stay for dinner, and because of that, we always had enough food in the house to cook a three-to-four course meal at any time.”
“I was always in the kitchen with mother,” Pascal reminisces. “She had me make fresh mayonnaise when friends came to dinner, and told me when I was 15 that I needed to work in a local restaurant over summer break.”
After working in several top restaurants in Rouen, Pascal’s next stop was in Brussels, where he spent four years at CERIA, a hotel and restaurant college. Following that, he worked as a server and later assistant head waiter for master chef Paul Bocuse at his flagship restaurant in Lyon. St. Tropez called, and he worked for three years as service staff manager at the famous Club 55, where he was also in charge of catering and cooked for and served many celebrities.