Fine Dining: Interview with Chef Martin Woesle at Mille Fleurs

How this chef made this restaurant the best in Rancho Santa Fe

Chef Martin Woesle

To one’s surprise, there are only three fine dining establishments in San Diego that have celebrated 25-plus years of business; with the twists of the economy, diners’ palates, fate, and other variables, only one still remains – boasting the talents of Martin Woesle, founding chef de cuisine at Mille Fleurs.

The restaurant and menu have garnered almost every culinary distinction (i.e. best regional chef by the James Beard Foundation and Best Chef in San Diego) and rated amongst the top 10 dining destinations in the county virtually every year throughout its existence. To compliment Chef Woesle’s creations, Bertrand Hug, Mille Fleurs’ owner, carefully makes selections for the wine list – satisfying the most discerning diner and oenophile.

Mille Fleurs

6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 
(858) 756-3085

Mille Fleurs’ menu changes daily, based upon seasonal produce, fish and meats – as freshness and quality are paramount. The modern dishes prepared by Woesle exude the charm and finesse of the farm-to-table philosophy, along with the lure and flavors of fine French cuisine.

Also Read: Best Restaurant In Rancho Santa Fe

The soup of Jerusalem artichokes will whet your palate. The salmon tartar is quite tasty, presented as a work-of-art on a plate. The plating and taste of the smoked eel on beets and potatoes, as well as the oven roasted breast of duck are sure to please; as are the seared sea scallops and Dover sole – you may even be so inclined to offer your compliments to the chef.  Having worked as a pastry chef before arriving at Mille Fleurs, Chef Woesle’s desserts are most certainly worth a try.

Woesle’s interest in cooking was initially inspired by his mother – cooking seven days a week for a family of eight; he thus began his culinary adventures at the age of 16. In following the European tradition of a three-year apprenticeship prior to cooking school, Woesle’s introduction to his career began at Lake Constatn’s Hotel St. Leonhard in Germany; his experience in the kitchen actually began with peeling potatoes and prepping ingredients. He followed with work at Restaurant Waldorn (one Michelin star) and Aubergine in Munich (three Michelin stars). His experience soon led to his attendance at a Master Chef school; with an apparent talent, he was accepted at an age younger than their minimum, even completing his training as first in his class.

Woesle first came to California working with Wolgang Puck at Ma Maison; but at the recommendation of the chef and owner of Aubergine, relocated to San Diego partnering with the Bavarian Health Resort. And in January 1985, was hired by Bertrand Hug as the chef at the newly established Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe.

So what does an accomplished Chef de Cuisine cook at home? Surprisingly, very little. Woesol’s wife, Elisabeth, does most of the cooking; the exception is, of course, his passion for outdoor grilling.

Q&A with Chef Martin Woesle

FINE Magazine: What is your philosophy on cooking?
Chef Martin: You cannot take something good out of a pot or pan, if you don’t put something good in. Try to make every dish better than you did before. It can always be better.

FINE: What foods do you enjoy preparing the most?
Chef Martin: Game birds and meats, along with organic foods. I love to see perfect food products come together to make a great dish. I can make people happy. [Daily trips to Chino Farms for fresh produce, “beautiful fish” and meat from top producers were also noted].

FINE: As the menu changes daily based upon seasonal offerings, what can diners expect to see and taste this spring and summer?
Chef Martin: Fresh soft shell crab; zucchini flowers stuffed with goat cheese; wild Oregon king salmon with haricots; rabbit pot pie; nectarine and lavender tart; and boysenberry ice parfait.

FINE: Is butter the one thing that separates French cuisine from all others?
Chef Martin: No, modern French cooking uses very little butter, but many different oils.  Over the past 30 years, it has become lighter and more digestible. Of course some traditional French recipes require a ton of butter or they don’t work.

FINE: As a chef, what is most rewarding for you?
Chef Martin: When I enter the dining room and meet very happy guests who enjoyed my cooking immensely. It is great satisfaction after a 10-hour workday.