With Patience and Passion

By Ashli Urano

Opened earlier this year at The Star in Frisco, La Parisienne French Bistro brings a piece of Paris to the heart of Texas. Before even walking through its door, guests may be transported to the streets of France courtesy of its chic Tiffany & Co. blue-and-white decor. 
 Created by executive chef Oswaldo “Ozzy” Samano, La Parisienne’s menu is a mix of traditional French dishes along with made-from-scratch pastries and an assortment of other desserts.
Samano has been a chef for more than 40 years. His love of cooking began at a young age. He often cooked for his friends when he was only 12 years old. He said cooking has always been part of his family’s life. 
 “I had a lot of influence growing up in Dallas. My family was associated with (upscale eatery) Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano and the Hilton Anatole (hotel),” Samano said. “A lot of my uncles worked as waitstaff (members) and my cousins were chefs. I knew I wanted to be a chef from the very beginning. Cooking was natural for me.”
(Although his family has strong ties to the restaurant industry, they also have a love of music. Samano, who said his father was part of the Dallas Jazz Orchestra in the 1970s, is himself  a drummer and often performs in Dallas’ Deep Ellum.)
 During high school, Samano began working at a location of Chili’s as a dishwasher. His potential in the culinary industry was quickly recognized and management soon moved him to the kitchen where he became shift leader by the time he was 16 years old. He continued working for Chili’s for nine years, moving to several Dallas-area locations during that time. 
After graduating high school, Samano studied baking for a year-and-a-half at Dallas’ El Centro College. He went on to join the U.S. Navy and spent two years as a chef cooking for officers (he ultimately was discharged due to a leg injury). 
 During his career, Samano has worked with numerous well-respected names in the culinary industry including Chef James Rose, currently the operations manager of Bob’s Steak & Chop House; Chef Kent Rathbun, a James Beard Award nominee and owner of Dallas eateries Shinsei and Lover’s Seafood & Market; and Chef Dean Fearing, formerly of The Mansion on Turtle Creek and owner of Fearing’s at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas.
Samano said he believes that the best type of training is when chefs “throw you into the fire, and you either learn it or you don’t. … In my opinion, schools don’t teach culinary students what it actually takes. 
 “Many people tell me they want to become a chef and I let them know it’s really, really hard. Schools will teach you the basics, but you have to be ready for the long hours and hard work that goes behind it. That’s the only thing I personally feel schools are lacking.”
Samano knew he had reached a different level professionally after working in the kitchens at the upscale Bob’s Steak & Chop House, as well as at Nick & Sam’s, An Uptown Steakhouse, which opened in Dallas in 1999. 
 “I was finally in that elite group of chefs who run fine-dining restaurants,” he said. “This is when I knew I was in the right industry.” 
His passion, coupled with his talent, are what Samano claims prompted him to create the culinary concepts behind the eateries East Hampton Sandwich Co., Hudson House and Drake’s Hollywood (each has locations in North Texas). 
 When the owner of La Parisienne, Texas native Mondi Tag (who, with her mother, was the first female franchisee owner-operator for Dickeys Barbecue Pit in Dallas), approached Samano about the executive chef position, he had never before worked in the world of French cuisine.
However, Samano quickly discovered that many of the techniques utilized in French cooking are similar to those he had been using for years. By studying French cookbooks and learning the terminology, he was able to create an authentic menu for La Parisienne that has proven to be wildly successful. 
 Diners can enjoy classic French dishes such as wild escargot, coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon, as well as a variety of other delicious options.
“With the restaurant being named La Parisienne, the menu has to be on point with French cuisine. As time has passed since we’ve been open, I’ve learned to make adjustments,” he explained. “I’m not from France but feel everything with this menu is right. I can feel it in my heart.”
Samano is a firm believer that cooking is a never-ending learning process, regardless of experience. He understands the importance of collaboration and teamwork when it comes to creating a successful restaurant. 
 It is why he said he values the restaurant’s staff and encourages them to always share their ideas. Samano’s belief has always been that a true chef is not about a single individual, but rather a group effort. 
“It’s about being able to maintain yourself under stress. I learned that quality in the Navy,” he said. “I have these two guys in the kitchen that have been with me for 22 years. … I have another group that follows me whenever I open new restaurants. Getting them to follow me says a lot. It’s a blessing, to be honest.”
Samano’s advice to aspiring chefs is to be patient and not to take anything personally. 
“Patience is key. Success will come if you truly have passion. Respect has to be earned from the crew, managers and the company you’re working for. Simply be patient and passionate about becoming a chef. Sometimes I’ll cry and say, ‘Come on guys — you can do better.’ That’s passion.” 

Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kireina.
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