Vincent Francoual of Vincent's Essentials

Vincent FrancoualFrench pantry pick: Fleur de sel is the first layer of salt when the sea water dries up. I use it as a finishing seasoning on poached fish, a nice grilled piece of meat—anything, really. It’s always nice to bite into that salty crunch.

Baby food: We try to get [my daughter] Chloe to eat and try everything. She’s already had truffles and foie gras (of course). The other day she tried a sweetbread. We’ve found that when she gets picky, we try to serve that item again and in a slightly different way until she likes it. She’s just learning to use a spoon and loves fruit and yogurt, but it is messy.

Twin Cities burgers: I really enjoy the burger from Ike’s—incredibly fresh meat, juicy, and the bun is perfect. Also, Brit’s Pub next door has a tasty one served with tomato-bacon jam—add the Stilton cheese.

Jogging route: Start really early in the day or later in the day, after 6 p.m. I love running around the Minneapolis chain of lakes (Harriet, Lakes of the Isles, and Calhoun). A good run at that time is always a stress cleansing for me.

Secret to mastering French cooking: Jacques Pepin’s books have plenty of photos explaining technique. My favorite French cookbook is The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. It inspires me and makes me a bit homesick. As a general philosophy: Trust your gut feeling and enjoy the cooking—really, it’s not rocket science. •

Illustration by James Kloiber