Grondin: Couple combine French and Latin culture for unique restaurant fare

Written by: 
Alex Maldonado
Grondin, the French-Latin Kitchen, is a culinary fusion restaurant located in the heart of Chinatown in Honolulu. Owned and operated by husband and wife duo, David Segarra and Jenny Grondin with Andrew Pressler as executive chef, the French-Latin Kitchen has been open and operating for about a year and a half, according to Grondin. Segarra said, “The menu consists of interpretations of our favorite childhood dishes and are usually pretty true to how they originally were. It’s engineered to offer a balance of both cultures.” He added one of the dishes that epitomizes the French-Latin fusion is the Crepe Mole Negro, a $13 dish consisting of confit duck leg, Oaxacan mole, wrapped in a crepe with cilantro and a lime crème fraiche. “You would almost never see the duck confit in Latin America, and you would never see the Oaxacan style mole in France,” explained Segarra. Segarra also said, “The item that stands out the most on the menu is probably the Cassoulet, a $26 dish made of Shinsato Farms pork shank, house-cured lardon, saucisson à l’ail, which is a garlic sausage, white beans, and a tomato confit.” The menu is broken up into two categories, “Petit Plats” or small dishes ranging in price from $7-16, and “Fuertes” or strong/large items costing between $18-32. The restaurant gets its cultural blend from Segarra and Grondin’s genealogical backgrounds with Segarra being a mix of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian, while Grondin’s parents were both French immigrants. Segarra said the restaurant’s name comes from Jenny’s father, Jean Grondin, who died when she was 7 years old. “He was a French chef who worked under Michelin Star chefs, restaurants, and the Chateau & Relais group in France and England. He opened the infamous L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and eventually opened up a French fine dining restaurant in Captiva Island, Florida, named after the region in France where his father was born,” explained Segarra. “When we [were planning] Grondin conceptually, both the cuisine and the ambience, we wanted it to be a bistro style in a warm place with a mom and pop atmosphere. We decided to name it after her dad and kind of pick up where he left off.” Segarra said he and his wife got the idea to open their own restaurant while they were in the Galapagos Islands visiting family. They had just gotten engaged and were walking around enjoying the scenery and agreed it would be a great idea to leave their home in New York and move to an island, Segarra continued. “As we got back to New York, my business partners were planning a new restaurant in the Virgin Islands. We signed up for it and started sketching out ideas for [our own restaurant] on a beach in St. John,” said Segarra. Once there, the couple decided St. John was a beautiful place, but too small for them to open their business, so they tried Puerto Rico only to find the same problem. After Puerto Rico, they went to visit some friends living on Maui to see how they would like it there. “While we were visiting Maui, we took a weekend trip to Oahu and drove around the island. We came across Chinatown on a rainy Sunday night and just fell in love with the architecture. It reminded us a lot of the meat packing district in New York,” said Segarra, ”We found a space for the restaurant, we found an apartment near downtown and had a daughter on the way, and it all seemed to make sense. Just at exactly that point, our chef Andrew’s wife reached out to us on Facebook and asked if Oahu needed any chefs. All the stars were aligned at that point.” Grondin is open seven days a week serving dinner daily, lunch on the week days and brunch on Saturdays and Sunday. More information including their address and menu items can be found on their website, Check out the other Chinatown restaurants Ke Alaka'i has featured: Ethiopian and Moroccan-Lebanese Uploaded Jan. 26, 2016