Roland Jeannier

The Baltimore Sun

Since the 2005 sale of Jeannier's, the classic French restaurant that had Baltimoreans lining up for tables for two decades, Roland Jeannier has kept busy.

But he concedes that, at times, he misses his old space in the Broadview Apartments in Tuscany-Canterbury now occupied by Tatin.

"I just came back from France, where I saw my grandchildren and endured the strikes," Jeannier said with a laugh the other day.

"Well, I do miss the restaurant sometimes. I miss my regular customers and it was always my pleasure to prepare something special for them. I also liked making new customers want to come back," he said. "I spent 55 years in the business, and I liked talking about food with people."

The Provence native, who was 15 when he began his cooking apprenticeship, later was a chef for French army officers.

"I come from a long line of good cooks. My mother and grandparents were both wonderful cooks," he said.

In 1958, he immigrated to Boston, where he worked in a restaurant. He moved to Baltimore in the early 1960s, taking over as chef at Les Tuileries in the old Stafford Hotel in Mount Vernon Place.

"Let me tell you what I don't miss. I don't miss the 12-or-more-hour days, and when you're a chef-owner, the days are all long," he said.

Speaking from his home in the city's Evergreen neighborhood this week, Jeannier was making plans for a Thanksgiving feast for at least 10 who would gather around his table.

"What am I cooking? Come on, turkey. What else?" he said, which he planned to stuff with his favorite chestnut dressing. Dessert would be something "French," he said, and the wines would be a selection of whites and reds.

"I love Thanksgiving. We don't have anything like it in France, and the reason I like it is because it isn't a political or religious holiday. It's purely a family holiday," he said.

When he goes out, what restaurants does he frequent?

"That's a secret," he said. "I don't want to put anyone down, and I like trying different places."

He's been a widower since 1994 when his wife, Collette, died.

He has a a trans-Atlantic family. One son lives in Paris with two of Jeannier's grandchildren, while the other son and two other grandchildren live in Baltimore.

Does he have any plans to teach culinary classes or someday return to the kitchen?

"I'm old enough to be retired, after all, but if I do, I'll call you," he said.

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