On the Line: Frederic Castan of Motif Restaurant, Part Two

There's always a great love behind a great man.“, per Chef Castan. His wife, Maria, is equally talented in the fine arts as a painter. She attends workshops, and has hundreds of works completed. Maria often travels with Frederic, but admittedly prefers the climate close to home. Good thing he didn't pursue what his parents originally had planned for him, or else they would never have ended up in California.

Read our interview with Frederic Castan of Motif Restaurant, Part One.
And now, on to Part Two . . . .

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
I love to spend time with my grandson. I like to read books and ride my bike.

Last song playing on your radio/smart phone/iPod:
Adele. She is really good. In the kitchen we listen to classical music.

What brought you to Orange County?
I was first in Mexico, then Austin, Texas. In the summer of 1985, I received a call saying the hotel I worked at was closing. A friend called a month later to tell me about a position at the Hotel Laguna, which was recently purchased. Since then, I've also worked across the street at the Ritz-Carlton, and helped open the Marina del Rey and Pasadena branches. I opened the golf club at Coto de Caza, then left for the Westin in Costa Mesa (prior to Pinot Provence opening). Chicago was the last city I worked in prior to starting here in 2006. My wife didn't like the weather, so she divided her time between Orange County and Chicago.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
When I was about 30, I opened my own restaurant with no financial or business plan — just threw all of my savings and my life into it. It wasn't successful, and that was one of the hardest lessons I have ever learned. If you want to execute greatly, you must have a plan.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Picincs with my parents and playing Petanca, which is a European game also known as Boules.

Favorite holiday and why:
I don't prefer the holidays, because I work every holiday, and it is usually busy. . . so I don't get much family or down time around the holidays.

Last book you read or last movie watched:
The last book is Life on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death and Redefining the Way We Eat, a story about Grant Achatz and his battle with tongue cancer. I'm almost done with it, and it is very inspiring [Editor's Note: Castan met Achatz in 2002, and he was already doing great things back then.] The last movie I saw was The Descendants; it was okay.

Last thing you looked up/searched online:
Mostly other restaurant's recipes and pricing to make sure we are staying in line with the trends.

Do you have any skills that are non-food related?
I like to do handy work: painting, plumbing, masonry work. I've put up a retaining wall. Growing up on a farm, your nearest neighbor was a couple of miles away. We had to be self-sufficient. I also love cars and mechanics. I used to have two Mustangs that I would do a lot of work on. I sold one, but the other sits in the garage because I don't have as much free time.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I would probably be a train conductor on the Bullet train in France. This is what my father did, and what my parents always wanted me to get into.

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