“…food is best when it’s in its purest form. My job is to enhance that natural flavor to allow the essence of the food to sing.” -Frank McClelland
Chef Frank McClelland’s L’Espalier has been a perennial “best” of America’s restaurants for three decades, earning top accolades from Zagat, Forbes, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Frommer’s, Wine Spectator and Condé Nast Traveler as well as nods in international media. L’Espalier is New England’s most decorated independent restaurant with twelve consecutive AAA Five Diamond Awards (the only one in Boston) and twelve consecutive Forbes (Mobil) Four-Star awards. He speaks and judges across the country at events like Taste of Vail, Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival and the Chefs Collaborative National Summit.
At the heart of Chef McClelland’s menus of New England flavors with French interpretation is Apple Street Farm, his organic farm in Essex, Massachusetts that is the primary source of heirloom produce and proteins for L’Espalier and his trio of casual Sel de la Terre bistros. The James Beard chef and cookbook author (Wine Mondays) views his life as a farmer-restaurateur as being on-trend. By living this life from his youth, he was early to the farm-to-table or “locavore” dining philosophy.
Chef McClelland's love of “field to fork” cooking began while growing up on his grandparents' farm in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. By the age of 25, he had been a chef in two of the most respected Boston kitchens: The Harvest in Cambridge and L'Espalier. In 1984, he became Executive Chef at The Country Inn at Princeton in Western Massachusetts where he established himself as a culinary talent who made time to know local farmers. At The Country Inn he earned a four-star rating from The Boston Globe as well as being named one of the country's top 25 new chefs by Food & Wine.
Chef McClelland nurtured his love of fresh, regional ingredients and applied his European techniques to create his own signature modern French-influenced cuisine, brought his knives back to L’Espalier, purchased the restaurant outright and never looked back.
In April 2000, Chef McClelland diversified his organization with Sel de la Terre, a trio of casual bistros with boulangeries steeped in the culinary traditions of Provence, France, with business partner Chef Geoff Gardner. Sel de la Terre opened to rave reviews and was instantly named one of the top 20 new restaurants in America by Esquire. The chefs de cuisine at the three restaurants develops menus that reflect a unique personality of each location. In 2007, Au Soleil Bakery & Catering followed to fill the gap of brick oven baked breads and delectable pastries for the restaurants as well as a full regional catering service.
The time he spent on his family’s farm grounded Chef McClelland in the time-honored traditions of farm-to-table cooking. Today he honors his upbringing at Apple Street Farm by growing fresh herbs, heirloom fruits and vegetables and raising honeybees, egg laying chickens and livestock, which are fed farm fresh produce and whole grains breads from Au Soleil’s overages. He views sustainable agriculture as compatible with providing this region’s most memorable and environmentally friendly dining experiences.
Chef Frank McClelland is a New England cooking institution, known for developing the Northeast’s next generation of exciting culinary talent. His restaurants include StarChefs “Rising Stars,” and chefs are sought out by network TV chef shows and industry competitions. Many of Boston’s best-known restaurants are populated with alumni who were mentored under his tutelage.