At Blanc, the chef-owner blends flavors from around the globe, creating inspired dishes like his lauded French onion soup. Photo Courtesy Blanc; Nicole Nixon.

Dining Out

The Art of Blanc

At chef Jean Claude Rogé’s Fort Myers restaurant, the kitchen is his stage.

The chefs were wearing felt fedoras, all except chef-owner Jean Claude Rogé, who had pulled his long gray hair into a ponytail down his back. Tall and slim, he towers a head above his crew, his wrists beaded with bracelets, a pair of white-framed specs perched on his nose. He is a character, that’s apparent from the beginning, and the kitchen feels like a stage. Pull up a chair and a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy the show. At any given moment, Rogé may perform a magic trick, banter with guests and staff or stop to explain, in his marked French accent, the metal artwork that lines the walls of his 30-seat restaurant in Fort Myers, named simply Blanc. The real magic comes through the flavors, though, and in the graceful way the four cooks squeeze and dance around each other in the tiny kitchen without ever colliding or uttering a cross word. You have the option of sitting at one of the tables, but then you would miss the show. The 11 chairs at the chef’s counter are front-row seats to some of the best entertainment in town. Sure, you sit elbow-to-elbow with fellow diners as the waitstaff rushes behind you and speaks to you over your shoulder. At first, it may seem crowded and hectic, but soon enough you feel part of the action, and it’s exhilarating. At one point, the woman next to me, until then a stranger, slipped me a bite of her exquisite Berkshire toma
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