JW Marriott New Orleans names Ren? Bajeux Executive Chef
Ren? Bajeux has been named Executive Chef of the JW Marriott New Orleans, it was announced today by Ted Selogie, General Manager.
Chef Bajeux, who was most recently Executive Chef at the Renaissance Arts Hotel and his namesake restaurant, Ren? Bistrot, has been with Marriott Hotels & Resorts since 2012. As one of only 44 French Master Chefs in America (designated by the prestigious Maitre Cuisinier de France organization), Chef Bajeux has made his home in New Orleans for the past few years.
Born and raised on a farm in Lorraine, France, food and cooking were always an integral part of his everyday life. As a child, Ren? was expected to participate in every aspect of farm life and was compensated for his efforts with fresh milk, pork, and potatoes. His family also spent time in the south of France, where he worked with sailors and fishermen, receiving payments in chunks of fresh tuna or a few handfuls of sardines. He learned first hand – at the source – the value of basic, fresh ingredients, and the true elegance of simple, rustic peasant fare.
Bajeux didn’t actually set foot into a restaurant until the age of 14 when he went to work in one. Then and there he realized his heart was in the kitchen and he wanted nothing more for himself than to create food to share with his friends – and by extension, everyone who came to him for a good meal. After receiving his culinary degree, Bajeux fulfilled his mandatory military service as a cook in the French navy, then made his way to the U.S. via Montreal. He spent his early career in Chicago at some of the city’s best restaurants, then moved to Hawaii to open the signature restaurant at the Four Seasons resort. He later assumed the responsibilities of running the kitchen at the Four Seasons’ five-star, five-diamond property in Beverly Hills.
In 1997, Bajeux moved to New Orleans and took command of The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, where he maintained its coveted five-star designation from the Mobil Travel Guide, as well as its AAA five-diamond designation. In 2001, he opened Ren? Bistrot, a haven of authentic French cooking in the heart of downtown New Orleans; it was listed among Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” the following year. Among the many other accolades he has received along the way are 2001 Chef of the Year from the American Tasting Institute; inclusion among “America’s Top Tables,” Gourmet Magazine 1998; and James Beard Outstanding Member, 1997-2000.
Bajeux’s culinary philosophy of “terroir cooking” (of the earth) is classically French. It refers to dishes that reflect the area in which their ingredients are produced. Bajeux believes strongly that a chef should be connected to the food he serves by using strictly local ingredients – very local, if not actually raised by the chef himself.
In his new position at the hotel, Chef Bajeux is looking forward to the opportunity to present his cuisine in the JW Marriott’s smaller, more intimate Canal Street Grill restaurant. While a new menu is still in the works, Chef Bajeux notes that diners can be sure to expect him to incorporate flavors that he encountered while working outside Louisiana and the United States.