Famed Houston chef opens dream restaurant, L’Olivier

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HOUSTON – Chef Olivier Ciesielski has seen it all. From the famed ‘Le Crillon’ in Paris, to the personal kitchen of the Onassis family in Switzerland, to the lights and stage of Iron Chef America. Chef Olivier has lived his dream. All but one, anyway.

“I thinks it’s a dream for any chef to own the restaurant,’ Olivier says.

For more than twenty years, it’s been a dream just out of reach. Though he’s made a name for himself as the Executive Chef at some of Houston’s finest restaurants, having a place to call his own is a fancy that’s always eluded him. Until recently, that is.¬† Welcome to L’Olivier.

Owning his own restaurant has been an exercise in love.

‘Everyday challenges,’ co-owner Mary Clarkson explains, ‘staffing issues are always a challenge, and cancellations or no-shows always throw you for a loop.”

It’s been an exercise in heart as well. after twenty years working in Houston’s finest kitchens, Chef Olivier is learning the burden of ownership, competing with the restaurateurs who gave him their favor for so long, and finding that more than a few of his oldest friends and colleagues have turned away now that he’s left their kitchens for his own.

“If you don’t have no competition we don’t make Houston better,’ Olivier says, ‘we’d be the same level everyday.’

For some of us, it’s the unfortunate price we pay for stepping out and making our dreams come true. but chew on this: chef Olivier is determined to make it on his own, even if it means doing it without the support of the friends he’s known so long.

“We hope to be here for many years. And that’s why we need the support from Houston. And Houston, so far, has responded very well to us.”