November 5, 2007
From La Provence to Bella Bru

La Provence Restaurant & Terrace, Roseville's classy outpost for Provencal dining, is underoing a major shift in personnel following the departure of opening chef-partners Bernard Brun and Joshua Rabbie. Brun left in July to return to his native France, while Rabbie left a few weeks ago to join the Bella Bru group of restaurants and bakeries.

Stephen Des Jardin, the owner of La Provence, said in an email from France that Shane McMahon has moved from sous chef to executive chef and that Derrick Sand now is chef. Both have been at the restaurant almost from the day it opened in early 2004. No change in the restaurant's concept is anticipated, says Des Jardin. Brun was "horribly homesick" and wanted to return to France to help his mother recover from a knee operation, while Rabbie was eager to tackle a new challenge, adds Des Jardin.

Rabbie acknowledges that while he was up for a new challenge other factors also influenced his decision to leave La Provence. "Mr. Des Jardin was going one way, we were going in another. It became a matter of false hopes and false promises. I never put my heart into a project like I did with that restaurant, but it became more about real estate than the restaurant," says Rabbie.

He joins Bella Bru as executive chef and director of operations just as owners Steve and Liz Mishler are putting together an ambitious upgrade of their four restaurants, starting with the Carmichael site, where they recently added Luna Lounge, a bar with a small-plate menu. Rabbie is retooling the Carmichael restaurant's dinner menu to give it a modern Mediterranean tone, a change expected to be introduced in a few weeks, says Liz Mishler. The Folsom site is to be remodeled to include a kitchen, while other changes eventually will be added to the El Dorado Hills and Natomas branches.

"I didn't want to leave Sacramento," says Rabbie. "That would have been easy. Las Vegas is out of control, and there are a lot of opportunities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but I wanted to continue pioneering Sacramento."

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