5 questions for: Cyrille Holota

Le Bilboquet’s new head chef—whose resume includes standouts such as the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, JOËL and The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead—brings a keen sense of precision and creativity to Buckhead’s beloved French bistro.

In a short period of time, Le Bilboquet has become an Atlanta institution. What was your approach to stepping into this new role?
The very first time I walked into the restaurant, I didn’t say anything, but I looked at the bar, and I observed for 15 minutes—the restaurant and the vibe—and right away I felt “This is home.” When I observed the restaurant, I knew that the chef in place had to be creative.

Why do you think Atlanta has responded with such enthusiasm to this restaurant?
Le Bilboquet is a very fun concept. It’s a classic French bistro, but it’s very open and light. I also think a main thing is the location; we’re in the heart of Buckhead, and we have sidewalks everywhere. When you see our beautiful patio, you can sit down, get a bottle of rosé and a crab salad, and relax.

What are your plans for the menu?
The dishes we’re doing are very simple but at the same time very sharp. For me it’s important to work with very fresh ingredients and to be precise but also to be easy and relaxed. We are Le Bilboquet, and we have an established brand. What I’m going to bring is my creativity. I also try to bring humility and to stay close to the customers and to listen to them. One thing that’s very important to me is to listen to the customers.

What is your personal cooking philosophy?
To find the best produce and be simple and honest with it. Where I grew up, meals brought people together to mingle, to share. For me, that is very important. It is very important to me that our guests are happy.

There’s an interesting mix on the menu.
We do different specials throughout the week—whether it’s a beautiful côte de boeuf with béarnaise for two people or quiche with a salad on the side. Atlanta is very foodie; people love eating, and they’re more conscious about what they eat, so we take that into account.