The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Sosthène Kaboré originally dreamed of becoming an architect—but a lack of funding for college as an international student in the United States led the native of Burkina Faso in West Africa to abandon his studies to pursue another lifelong interest: food. “Cooking had been my passion since I was nine years old,” says Kaboré, 37, who helms the kitchen at Cherry Creek’s Le Bilboquet, an upscale French restaurant with locations in New York City and Atlanta. As a child, Kaboré’s mother often gave him cookbooks she picked up during her missionary travels to France, and the pair would make the recipes together. In 2010, the then 24-year-old withdrew from Arizona State University to move to New York City, where his foot-in-the-door moment in the restaurant business came from a dishwashing job. Over the subsequent 12 years, Kaboré worked at various eateries in the Big Apple and eventually landed a gig as chef de cuisine at Le Bilboquet’s Atlanta outpost. Last August, Kaboré relocated his knives to the four-year-old Cherry Creek location, where he, of course, cooks the restaurant’s signature dishes—such as the juicy Cajun chicken with French butter sauce that’s been on the menu since 1986—but has also been introducing menu items with decidedly un-French flair. Take the scallop carpaccio appetizer: The standout starter showcases an array of worldly ingredients, all of which are influenced by Kaboré’s extensive culinary travels. We asked him to help us break down the dish.
1. Kaboré starts with thinly sliced, Massachusetts-sourced raw scallops. The slightly sweet mollusks impart little fishy flavor, allowing the other components to shine.
2. To make a Japanese-inspired ponzu sauce, Kaboré mixes vinegar with tamarind—a sour fruit indigenous to tropical regions of Africa—and passion fruit juice for additional zing. “Lemon and yuzu are commonly used to make ponzu sauce,” he says, “but I wanted mine to be unique.”
3. The chef coats the scallops with his special zippy ponzu to give the carpaccio just the right tang, similar to the limey goodness one might taste in ceviche. Then he tops each round with half of a gooseberry, a grapelike fruit native to North Africa and popular in restaurants throughout Europe.
4. Kaboré then sprinkles Peruvian pearl peppers—which have a hint of sweetness—to enhance the citrusy notes of the dish and to deliver both the peppers’ rich, smoky flavor as well as a dash of mild spice.
5. To finish the starter, Kaboré places a delicate, fried baby wonton skin atop each scallop. “The scallop should be eaten in one bite,” he says. “The wontons add crispness and some texture while still letting you appreciate the different flavors.”