Recruiting a chef who trained in a one-star Michelin restaurant in France deserves a mention in a city working toward proving its culinary chops and becoming a dining destination.
Enter French chef Steve Doliget, who joined The Commerce Club of Greenville last spring as executive chef and has begun reworking the traditional club menu to reflect the seasons and his 17 years of formal training and experience.
He started by working with a seasonal menu that would change every three months or so, but beginning this spring he plans to move to a monthly menu, shrinking it down to five to six appetizers and the same number of entrees, and rotate accordingly in order to take advantage of the most seasonal produce available.
“Sometimes they’re very short seasons, especially in the spring, like three to four weeks,” he says. “So to be able to rotate the menu and not stick with one menu I’m going to try to change the menu often.”
Doliget says with his kitchen serving a private club with paid membership, the staff works to make the dining experience feel like an extension of members’ homes, so while they like to give guests something different to try, they also try to keep favorites on the menu.
“There are a couple items I’ve gotta keep on, and if I take them off the menu, they’re gonna call me out,” Doliget says.
Two of those favorites he created are the crab cakes and the tuna tartare, which kicked off a recent tasting dinner with the chef. The dinner included four courses and dessert with paired wine tastings by service director and sommelier Douglas Mostyn. The flavors ran the gamut of Asian-inspired tartare and mahi-mahi pho, to Italian with a lobster ravioli Florentine, and a traditional grilled beef tenderloin with a red wine reduction. For dessert, the chef presented the Commerce Club Tiramisu like mini-trifles in single-serve dishes.
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Born in France, Doliget began his culinary career at 6 years old, cooking beside his grandmother, which led to a lifelong relationship with the culinary arts. His instructor and mentor at the CFAIE (Centre de Formation d’Apprentis Interconsulaire de l’Eure) in Normandy, France, was chef Claude Le-Tohic, who would go on to win a James Beard Foundation Award in 2010 while at Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and was a semifinalist in 2015, and a nominee in 2009.
During his time at CFAIE, Doliget apprenticed at a Michelin-star restaurant, Les Saisons. After graduating in 2001, he moved to Paris and worked at typical Parisien bistros. Experiences at traditional French bistros — Bistro le Velly and Bistro la Tortue — with chalkboard menus that changed daily were important to better understand the dynamics of how a kitchen operates. Four years later, he left the city life and moved to the French Alps and by the Atlantic coast, specializing in various regional cuisines.
He then decided to travel to the United States, and landed in Chicago, where he met his wife.
“People don’t believe me, but I end up in Chicago, and ‘why Chicago?’” Doliget jokes. “Because it was the cheapest airfare I could find.”
In 2010, Doliget was hired at the Ritz-Carlton, a Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. Eventually, he transitioned from the hotel industry to the private club sector and joined the team at Onwentsia Country Club in Lake Forest, Ill., one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in the United States.
But then Doliget and his wife decided to look for a change of scenery last spring.
“I wanted to meet new people and new culture, so my wife, she took the map and she’s like, ‘Let’s look at South Carolina,’ and then we ended up here at the Commerce Club,” he says.