Q: Describe the modern French-American bistro food at River Oaks.
A. Our menu reflects some American favorites with a French twist. For example, our mac and cheese is made with Gruyere cheese.
Q. Are there challenges using American ingredients in French cuisine?
A. Not these days. Some American ingredients are as high quality as French, especially cheeses.
Tchin-Tchin! Chef José Gutierrez celebrates 30 years in Memphis, Memphis Flyer, October 2012
Arguably Memphis’ first celebrity chef, French native José Gutierrez was a progenitor of fine dining when this barbecue town was barely a blip on the culinary radar. He was named one of the country’s best new chefs by Food & Wine in 1990 and received the eminent title of Maître Cuisinier de France in 2011. He held the reins at Chez Philippe for 22 years before opening his own downtown restaurant, Encore, in 2005, then heading to River Oaks in East Memphis in 2009. As he celebrates his 30th anniversary in Memphis and his first anniversary as owner of River Oaks, Gutierrez sits down to talk about what he’s learned.
Chef José Gutierrez marks time in Memphis, restaurant ownership at ’30 plus one’ celebration, Commercial Appeal, October 2012
When José Gutierrez arrived in town in 1982, Wyeth Chandler was mayor, the Netherlands was the honored country of Memphis in May, and The Peabody had been reopened less than two years. He was 23 when he was given charge of Chez Philippe and told this by patriarch Philip Belz:”He said, ‘Jose, the only thing we want you to do is put Chez Philippe on the map,’ ” Gutierrez said. “I said, ‘Oh, so that’s all,’ and in about six months, we were in The New York Times.”
It was a grand time for Gutierrez and The Peabody. The flagship restaurant was opulent; the chef, dashing. Accolades and awards came to both. Food & Wine magazine named Gutierrez one of its Top 10 Best New Chefs, the restaurant earned a four-star Mobil rating. Julia Child came. Numerous lavish chef dinners were thrown, menus were paired with paintings, were built around simple foods such as eggs, and Gutierrez traveled, cooking in places as lofty as The Ritz in Paris.
From the heart: Romantic meal starts with knowing what your sweetheart really likes, Commercial Appeal, February 2012
Valentine’s Day is the second most popular day of the year (after Mother’s Day) for Americans to dine out, according to the National Restaurant Association. So surely there is some connection between romance and food.
Chef José Gutierrez of River Oaks Restaurant in East Memphis is all too willing to explain how romance and food intertwine. “Effort is what is romantic,” Gutierrez says. “Showing that you know the other person’s tastes, picking a wine they will like, intention has to be there. If you misread what they will like, or do not put in some effort, food won’t make up for it. You cannot replace heart and soul with a recipe.”
Present! from the Memphis Flyer, December 2011
Rather not risk getting jostled with the mall herd? Or just looking to mix up your holiday gifts this year? Memphis is full of locally produced foods, from coffees and sauces to baked goods and grits. Consider making a basket of local treats for your friends and loved ones.
One of the newer treats on the market this season comes from MoJo Cookies: a monstrous six-ounce cookie with dark chocolate and walnuts.
Jose Gutierrez Named Chef of the Year award from the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, June 2011
Another Memphis chef is in the national spotlight. This time it’s Jose Gutierrez, who has received the Toque d’Argent-Trophee Andre Surmain, which is Chef of the Year award from the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France.
Gutierrez won over all other chefs in the U.S. and Canada who are members of the group.
“I am very honored, because the people who vote for me are also chefs,” he said. “And I get to take the toque from Michel Richard, who is in my opinion the greatest chef in the United States right now.”
Southern Sophistication from Memphis Magazine, November 2011
THE LAST TIME I ate at River Oaks was memorable not for the excellent food, but for my friend’s obnoxious behavior. He threw back one too many cocktails, and I was so embarrassed by his off-color humor that I didn’t return until after chef Jose Gutierrez brought his estimable talent to this popular East Memphis location.
It’s been two years since Gutierrez moved to River Oaks after closing his restaurant Encore, and his culinary finesse is as polished as ever. In June, Gutierrez was named Chef of the Year by the Maitres Cuisiniers de France, an honor he now shares with luminary French chefs Daniel Boulud and Jacques Pepin.
Restaurant Review from The Commercial Appeal, April 13, 2007
River Oaks, (5871 Poplar at I-240 at the Park Place Hotel; 683-9305) The revamped kitchen at comfortable and well-designed River Oaks turns out bountiful dishes in the eclectic American fashion, doing particularly good work with fish and seafood. Don’t miss the generously proportioned crab cakes or entrees of roast cod or grouper.
Memphis Magazine ”Best Of Memphis” Poll
And finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for. And our experts say the winner is . . . River Oaks. They must be doing something right there, as this newly opened fine dining establishment has won the hearts of foodies across the city. Congratulations.