On the Line: Laurent Vrignaud of Moulin Bistro, Part Two

How does one go from smoking two packs a day to completing over 30 marathons? And how does that tie into running an eatery that rules the breakfast circuit? You're about to find out in the second part of my interview with Moulin's rookie restaurant guy.

Our interview begins with part one, which you'll find over here.

Explain the meaning behind the name Moulin.
My mother came up with the name Moulin. It is French for “windmill,” which is a symbol of my childhood home of Montmartre.


You have a whole day to yourself; what do you do?
My perfect day would include a run on the beach, surfing, playing music with my daughter, and seeing a movie with my wife.

How did you meet your wife?
Sophie and I were high school sweethearts before I moved to California when I was 18. Ten days before my 35th birthday we reconnected, got married and had our daughter.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Being at the beach on the west coast of France.

Where did you grow up? And where do you call home?
I grew up in the Montmartre district of Paris, but California is my home. I'm a Californian in a French body.

Last thing you looked up/searched online:
Pastry display cases.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
I'm the most turned on emotionally when everyone around me is happy.

Where did you find all the vintage tables, chairs, and other French d├ęcor items?
I collected all the items in Moulin over the last 20+ years at flea markets and from the internet during visits back home, because I knew some day I would open this place. But I've always loved and collected old objects. I started taking my daughter to antique shops when she was little and telling her that we were going on treasure hunts.

Tell us something most people don't know about you.
That I was obese. When I moved to California, I did everything to the extreme, including working hard and playing hard. I was building my action sports business, but also eating and drinking whatever I wanted.

The turning point was in my mid 30's when I got married and my daughter was about to be born. I started running a lot, and then I started running marathons. I've run more than 35 now, including Boston. Training for a marathon requires extraordinary self-discipline because you have great days and bad days. And when you have bad days, you have to stay focused on the goal, push through, and approach the next day as a fresh new start. Marathon training has actually been great preparation for running a restaurant.

Moulin Bistro is located at 1000 Bristol St N, Newport Beach, (949) 346-1043; www.moulinbistro.com.

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