Michel Tersiguel was 11 when he started washing dishes at his parents’ restaurant, Chez Fernand, in 1975. The French eatery was the predecessor to Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant on Ellicott City’s Main Street, where he’s been running the show for 13 years. The Culinary Institute of America graduate lives nearby with his wife, Angela, and their sons, Lucas, 9, and Landon, 7.
Here, the chef shares little-known tidbits about his life, from his affinity for pho to his love of foosball.
1. He has owned Tersiguel’s longer than his parents did.
French immigrants Fernand and Odette Tersiguel founded their eponymous restaurant in 1991. Though Michel didn’t officially take over until 2005, he became a partner in the business in 1997.
2. He cooks anything but French cuisine at home.
Instead, pho is his go-to comfort food. When he needs to be restored, he grabs a big bowl of the Vietnamese noodles-and-broth specialty on U.S. 40. “I breathe in the herbs, and it makes me slow down,” he says of his preferred antidote to his typical 70-hour workweek.
3. For a chef, he rarely drinks alcohol.
Tersiguel estimates most chefs drink a glass or two of wine a day. In contrast, he has a glass of wine or a cocktail four to five times a month. And the Baltimore Ravens’ season ticket holder might have two or three beers at a football game.
4. He’s ambidextrous.
He relies on his right hand for fine motor skills, like using a knife, but switches to his left hand for power moves. Though he calls himself a master foosball player, he rarely plays anymore because he can’t risk injuring his wrists by forcefully snapping them.
5. His Great Dane has eaten six remotes.
Three-year-old Gale is a 125-pound “chewing machine” who has also downed shoes, socks and hats, but she redeems herself by being so lovable. And “it’s a big confidence-builder for the boys to hold their ground with her,” Tersiguel says.