French Roots

A Raleigh native returns to guide Scott Crawford’s awaited Jolie.

Text by Alex Dixon
Photos by Jessica Crawford Photography

Madison Tessener, Jolie, credit Jessica Crawford.jpg

For Madison Tessener—the chef de cuisine at Chef Scott Crawford’s new restaurant Jolie—the appointment marks a return to her hometown. Tessener wanted to be a chef since she was eight years old, and has constantly accompanying her mom in the kitchen while growing up in Raleigh.

While she didn’t go to culinary school, she ended up at the College of Charleston on a college track scholarship—surrounded by a storied and celebrated dining scene. Her focus on hospitality and tourism management allowed her to meet chefs in the community, and her persistence to get into the kitchen and be a chef paid off. From taking out the trash to peeling carrots, cracking stone crab claws, breaking down whole fish, and learning to make pasta, Tessener’s knowledge improved as she worked her way up in many acclaimed Charleston restaurants—including FIG, Chez Nous, Husk, and McCrady’s, where she was sous chef.

After a decade of experience in Charleston and in kitchens in New York City and Sweden, Tessener is back in Raleigh for Crawford’s French neighborhood, bistro–inspired restaurant next door to Crawford and Son. “French cuisine is the grandmother of cooking and dining, and Jolie is a great way to tip our hats to it,” Tessener says. “There’s no way to train as a chef without learning French cuisine; it’s inescapable in the most delicious way.” 

The new restaurant focuses on French classics with modern interpretations using the bounty of North Carolina products, from Steak Frites with Au Poivre Sauce to Trout Almondine and a White Corn Vichyssoise. The small plates menu covers more classics with a twist—such as escargot served nontraditionally with warm marigold, summer tomatoes, and sourdough crisps and a ratatouille tart with zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and Boursin cheese. The drink menu contains a focused list of food-friendly wines, French-inspired aperitif cocktails, and saison-style beers, including a signature offering from Raleigh-based Brewery Bhavana brewed exclusively for the restaurant. “It’s rustic cooking that’s simple, delicious, and executed really well,” Tessener says. Diners can view the open kitchen in the 35-seat restaurant or sit on the 25-seat pergola-covered rooftop overlooking the Raleigh skyline. 

Jolie shares several things with its neighbor, Crawford and Son, including the “Save Room” dessert section mirrored in French, while the malted wheat rolls at Crawford and Son became the signature bread offering of Gougères—a savory pastry with cheese—at Jolie. “We were inspired by our trip to Paris and the energetic little neighborhood French bistros that exude such happiness; we instantly wanted to bring that feeling and food to our corner of downtown Raleigh,” Crawford says. “Jolie is an intimate and cozy space, and we think this convivial setting will really lend to creating community and engaging with your neighbor in a way that happens so naturally in French bistros.”

Tessener came back to Raleigh originally looking for a potential space to open her own restaurant. But after meeting up with Crawford, he told her about Jolie and thought she’d be a great fit for the restaurant. In addition to her extensive culinary training, Tessener has also completed the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination from the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

“I’m honored and excited to be back and cooking in Raleigh. It’s that expression of love,” Tessener says. “I always wanted to come home and cook for my loved ones. And there’s a philosophy of creating a family (at Jolie). It’s about the guest…it’s about creating an experience.”

Recipe By Chef Scott Crawford, Crawford and Son

Midtown.jpg

Maitake Mushroom Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:

1 lb maitake mushrooms
1 white turnip
1 cup olive vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 cups baby arugula
1 lemon
1 tsp lemon thyme leaves
½ cup fennel fronds
¼ cup hazelnuts, blanched
Manchego cheese (1 year old)
kosher salt
sea salt
olive oil
freshly ground
black pepper

Olive Vinaigrette:

2 cups Castelvetrano olives, pitted
1 cup Champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp white soy sauce
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste

Instructions

Combine olives, vinegars, and white soy into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. On medium speed, slowly drizzle in olive oil until all is emulsified. Adjust seasoning and acidity as needed and reserve in refrigerator. Makes about 4 cups.

For the turnips:

Gently peel the turnips. Slice turnips on a mandolin (approximately 1/8" thick) and cut into strips (approximately ¾" wide). Place the strips into a mixing bowl with 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Once thoroughly mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. The salt will soften the turnips over time.  Taste test! If the turnips are too salty for your liking, you can rinse them in cold water. Pat dry and reserve in the refrigerator.

For the mushrooms:

Pull apart the clusters of maitake into smaller, bite-size pieces and season with salt, fresh black pepper, and olive oil. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly roast in a 350° oven until just tender. Cool and reserve in refrigerator.

For the hazelnuts:

Toss the hazelnuts with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh black pepper. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven until golden brown and crunchy (they will get crunchier as they cool). Once cool, lightly chop the hazelnuts and store at room temperature.

To complete:

In a mixing bowl, combine the maitake, salted turnips, arugula, and hazelnuts. Toss with just enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and olive oil and gently toss together (adjust your dressing and seasoning as you see fit). Place the salad mix in your chosen vessel. Using a peeler, shave some of the Manchego over the salad. Using a microplane, zest the lemon over the salad. Evenly drop lemon thyme and fennel fronds over the top. Finish with flakes of sea salt, fresh black pepper, and a touch more olive oil and you’re good to go!