You are here

RAMW Member Spotlight: Michelle Poteaux

February 2, 2016

Bastille opened in 2006 on the outskirts of Old Town Alexandria VA., the restaurant has garnered eight RAMMY nominations, multiple Washingtonian Top 100 listings and is a Northern Virginia Magazine Top 50 restaurant.  Michelle’s desserts are straightforwardly good, cloaked in nothing but vibrant French-Mediterranean flavors, sprinkled with influences from her time growing up in the Midwest, living in California and now the East Coast.


What is the hardest part about owning and opening a restaurant?  Finding staff and then managing the time between both spaces, along with all of the duties that come with being a working chef/owner.


…and the most rewarding part?  I love working with our staff.  We have some very dedicated people and I am proud that we have the opportunity to call them family.


Where do you look for inspiration when putting your menu together?  Sometimes it comes from just reading a cookbook, I’ll see a flavor and think “I love that”…”That sounds good” but I always want my own version or take on what it becomes.  Sometimes it comes from my childhood or from a TV program and I am suddenly inspired to make my version of something.


How are your restaurants influenced by the neighborhood they are located in?  Since we are located in Alexandria, we are very small town oriented.  We love supporting the local charities and our local base.


How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry and what did you learn from it?  My first job was at a Dairy Queen when I was 14, but my first kitchen job was at a place called E’s Inn.  It was a mom and pop burger/ice cream shop.  I went there as a kid and then I got to work there in high school.  That was the first time I ever got to work in a restaurant kitchen.  I worked between 2 of the best ladies!  The owner, Peggy worked the grill, I worked the fryer and then Denise.  They taught me so much about how STRONG women can be in the kitchen.


Where do you see yourself in five years?  I would like to be in a more stable position with both restaurants, where I can spend more time with my kids/family and maybe take an extended vacation!  OH that would be wonderful!!!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?  It was by my Dad.  He told me that when someone asked me to work, don’t say how much, just do it.  The reward will come later and you will have proven yourself in their eyes and be more valuable that the person who whines about the money or the job.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Graphic design.  I have been teaching myself a basic program and it is a lot of fun.  I would love to learn Photoshop/Illustrator so that I could do more.


What song always makes you happy?  Don’t worry be Happy by Bobby McFerrin


What is your favorite ingredient?  Citrus because it is so bright and lively!  It can complement and balance anything


You’re hosting a dream dinner party.  What three people would be at your table?  Claudia Fleming (former Gramercy Tavern Pastry Chef and her book influenced me a lot), Bill Nye “The Science Guy” (I grew up watching him and I think he is really interesting), Bill Maher (I love his sense of humor)


It’s the last meal of your life  - what’s on your plate?  Pasta aglio e olio is my favorite comfort food, next to double crust cherry pie for dessert


What are your pet peeves?  People who are not clean and organized.  People who can’t follow thru on directions and think their cell phone is more important that what has to be accomplished for the day.  Also people to milk the clock!


What is your favorite way to give back to the community?  I like to work with local Alexandria Charities so that we can have the most impact on our cities residents.


What’s your favorite go-to junk food?  Chips and guacamole or my kids Pirate Booty