The former owners of The Brentwood Restaurant in Little River were ready to retire, and the Massons were looking for a new restaurant location. The Massons fell in love with the Victorian home built in 1910 and took over in August 2007.
A native of Brittany, France, Masson earned culinary degrees in Paris and worked in London and Paris before he and his wife owned restaurants in Amsterdam, N.Y., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The Brentwood offers two restaurants in one, Masson said. “The downstairs is a white tablecloth formal dinner restaurant, and the upstairs is a casual Bistro with piano bar on the weekend. At The Brentwood, I have tried to concentrate on Lowcountry French cuisine by using local ingredients and classic Southern cooking with an added unique French twist.”
Q: What are you cooking these days that excites you the most?
A: I am always looking for the freshest ingredients. I am working with local farmers and fishermen to find sustainable products to offer to my patrons. I am also developing a new Bistro menu.
Q: What five things are always in your refrigerator?
A: Fresh goat cheese (my kids love it), smoked salmon (midnight snack), champagne, (In good times, I deserve it, and in bad times, I need it.) camembert and saucisson or pate (it’s a French thing) and Lourdes water (it’s been there for 13 years).
Q: What restaurants do you like to eat at when you’re not working?
A: My wife loves sushi and I love sashimi; we go or order to go at least once a week.
Q: Who is the best American chef?
A: It’s a tie between Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller.
Q: How important is presentation?
A: Presentation is 50 percent of a dish. Service, by the way is 60 percent of a dinner experience (with 40 percent for the food).
Q: What’s the best tip you can give a home cook?
A: Don’t make it your day job. Just joking. Concentrate on three recipes; everybody should know three good jokes and master three good recipes.
Q: What’s your prediction for the next big food or restaurant trend?
A: Healthy, sustainable, organic, local and natural.
Q: Who in your life has most influenced your cooking?
A: My grandmother. She used to make fantastic pastry like Baba au rhum, jams and confitures. I also worked under talented French chefs in Brittany, London and Paris.
Q: What was your favorite food as a kid? What was the dish or food you hated to eat the most?
A: Crepes were my favorite food as a kid; it is the fast food of Brittany and can be served sweet or savory. I never cared for tripe (pig stomach) or “pieds de cochon” (pig feet).