Back in February, just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation, acclaimed restaurateur Laurent Halasz gave Scottsdale residents a taste of what they could expect at his latest restaurant, Francine, now slated to open mid-August.
Located in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square, this French Mediterranean restaurant inspired by his mother, Francine Halasz, would serve Laurent’s new take on classic French Mediterranean cuisine.
Laurent also teased that his executive chef was an Arizona native and a “very nice fellow.”
“It’s going to be a great combination with me with the French flavors and his Mediterranean flavors that he’s good at,” Laurent said.
Now, we finally have a name – Brian Archibald – and Laurent couldn’t have chosen a more fitting executive chef to help execute his menu.
“The food itself speaking to the Mediterranean, the cuisine of South France as well, that style of cooking has been in a lot of my restaurants that I’ve ran over the years, and they’re ingredients that I’ve always gravitated toward,” Archibald said.
An “ingredients-driven chef,” Archibald brings nearly three decades of culinary leadership experience to Francine, including tenures at the Phoenician, Boulders Resort, JW Marriott Resort and Spa.
Archibald’s goal is to represent French Riviera cuisine in Scottsdale in a way no other restaurant has.
“I’m a native here, born and raised, and I’ve worked all over. Arizona is my home,” said Archibald said, who lives two miles from Francine.
“When we looked at the market and what we would benchmark ourselves with, to be honest, I can’t think of one restaurant really going after this style of cuisine – and at a high-bar level as well.”
Francine’s cuisine will not only feature seasonal flavors found in the Mediterranean, but the restaurant will also prepare them in a “very soulful way,” Archibald described.
The menu will include signature dishes such as zucchini carpaccio, Seared Duck a la Provencal, ratatouille tart, mushroom and taleggio and grilled octopus.
“There’s a lot of octopus in that coastal region; my version that I did for Laurent was merging a couple of techniques, one from Arizona,” Archibald said.
For the dish, Archibald slow-braises Spanish octopus in red wine and serves it with a chorizo verde.
“What we’re doing is a green version, so we’re grinding with the pork shoulder green pablano, coriander, a little bit of fresh serrano chilies, cilantro, herbs. What it does is it partakes a very fresh flavor on the chorizo and very bright and has a little spice to it,” Archibald explained.
To pull the dish together, Archibald paired it with a romesco made from piquillo peppers, Marcona almonds and sherry vinegar.
“It’s definitely a new spin on a dish that is traditionally done all over the French Riviera,” Archibald said.
And it’s a dish Laurent had never had before.
“To quote him – and you can imagine his accent – ‘it was delicious,’” Archibald said with a laugh.
Archibald joined Francine in January and has learned dishes from Laurent’s mother as well.
“Normally, I’m the one doing all the teaching or inventing or finding, so it’s been a great partnership that I’ve gotten from the Halasz family – and then doing my spin on other dishes,” Archibald said.
Francine will officially open for dinner on Aug. 14 at 5 p.m., located near other notable restaurants in the Luxury Wing, including Nobu, Toca Madera, and Ocean 44.
Originally, the restaurant was slated to open in April but was pushed to July due to COVID-19.
And while Francine was not affected by the Scottsdale Fashion Square riot in May, it forced the postponement of the restaurant’s opening another month.
“What’s happening with dining now in Arizona and the restrictions, we’re trying to learn everything we can before we open to be there for our guests and have the safest environment possible,” Archibald said.
Working alongside Archibald is sous chef Josh Winters, who previously worked as Chef De Cuisine at Hotel Valley Ho.
“We’re very excited to open,” Archibald said, adding:
“It’s something that’s been a dream for Laurent for many years; his plans go back to 2018. For myself, I’ve been working on it since the beginning of the year. To be able to add something to the Scottsdale market that we’re both in love with, our love and passion is really in depth into the restaurant.”
A job fair will be held July 7-8 to fill approximately 60 positions. Those interested can email their resume to email@example.com.
If You Go
Francine job fair
Where: 4712 N. Goldwater Blvd.
When: July 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.