“Local Tastemakers” is a collection of intimate interviews exploring Newport Beach’s flavor and flair through the eyes of the city’s most captivating chefs and restaurateurs during a time that has heavily impacted the restaurant and hospitality communities. Follow along every week to get to know familiar faces and the secrets to the dish that made them a locals’ favorite.
Moulin owner, Laurent Vrignaud, hails from Paris, France, the city known for its romantic atmosphere, haute couture, and too-beautiful-to-eat patisseries – the latter which he brought to Newport Beach. He saw a need for French pastries and grab-and-go cuisine done correctly and he did just that. Creating a day menu filled with classic French favorites like baguette sandwiches made with the freshest ingredients and delicately crafted pastries, Moulin has become a Newport Beach staple.
A local of over 30 years, Laurent loves to surf, run and spend time by the water when he’s not behind the counter of his beloved restaurant which he runs with daughter, Kaya. He loves to indulge in cuisine that reminds him of home such as charming Basilic on Balboa Island and high-end bistro, Marché Moderne in Newport Coast.
Restaurateur Laurent Vrignaud & Moulin
What made you want to become a restaurateur and what is the best part of your job?
I realized that no one was doing French bistro food correctly in Orange County, especially in Newport Beach, where the locals are all so well-traveled. Newport Beach deserved “real deal” Paris cuisine so I embarked on a mission to open Moulin and started surrounding myself with classically trained French chefs to recreate recipes from my childhood.
What is the most popular thing on the menu and what is your favorite?
Our patisseries do the best and sell out every day. My favorite thing to eat from our menu is the Saucisson Sandwich which is made with French salami, butter, French pickles in a fresh baguette – simple, but makes my tastebuds sing.
Looking Back at 2020
Talk to us about all the ways you pivoted your operation in 2020/21.
Our restaurant has always specialized in the grab-and-go business model, but we had to adjust our hours to make things easier for our customers. We also grew our selection of French goods, the market side of our restaurant, which has become extremely popular.
How has this past year affected your staff?
Our number one priority has and always will be our staff. We’ve had to make sure that our restaurant is a safe environment for our staff, that they’re fed well, and that they’re compensated well for their hard work.
The Silver Lining
What does it mean to be a part of the Newport Beach community?
I am grateful for the love Newport Beach has given Moulin since Day 1 and during the pandemic, the community has especially been so supportive of our restaurant.
From a restaurant’s perspective, what’s one thing you want locals/the public to know about your industry or restaurant?
Support local restaurants and dine safely by choosing to order to-go or by dining on the patio. If you are ordering take-out, it’s so important to call the restaurant directly as third-party delivery fees can be extremely high.
What is your ultimate hope for 2021?
My hope for 2021 is that people slow down and enjoy the reunion of family, friends and life after a rough and lonely 2020.