New Minden restaurant opens in Minden

It's a family affair at Villa san Marcel Restaurant in Minden. Owner Sheri Asay enlisted her son, Marcel Choux, as chef and namesake of the rustic Italian restaurant, her niece and nephew are cooks and 13 year-old granddaughter is a waitress.

"My son has a gift for cooking," said Asay. "We opened the restaurant because we wanted him to have a place where his daughter Cethe could work with him."

Asay had been looking for a restaurant after Marcel left Barone & Reed Food Co.

"This opportunity presented itself to open the restaurant," she said. "We had a smooth transition and the community seems to support us 100 percent."

Villa san Marcel features seafood, steak and traditional pasta dishes and portabella mushroom lasagna. Chef Choux describes the restaurant as "upscale casual."

"It's a family restaurant rather than fine dining, a family atmosphere," said Choux. "An Italian-inspired restaurant. We use portabella mushrooms instead of pasta in the lasagna. We focus on food from small regions in Italy. Peasant-style food.

"It's not a spaghetti-and-meatballs-red-and-white-tablecloth sort of place," he said.

Nightly dinner specials are on the wall menu. Villa san Marcel has wine and a full bar. Lunch fare includes panini and sandwiches, pasta and salads.

"We have everything from gelato, gnocchi, to traditional chicken marsala," said Choux.

Choux designed the interior of the restaurant which features area artists' work on the walls.

He has a talent for food display and wanted to be a food photographer but took cooking when he attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

He cooked at Anthony's on the Pier in Seattle, Wash., before he worked at Barone & Reed.

Sous Chef Christian Gemmel said Choux gave him his first cooking job when he was 15 years old.

"It's common for chefs to be the last ones to eat, to sit down and enjoy," said Gemmel. "The passion of food is putting a smile on someone's face - it's a service."

Villa san Marcel Restaurant is at 1799 B Ironwood Drive in Minden. Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and dinner is from 5 until closing Monday through Saturday. A special Mother's Day Brunch is May 14. For more information on the three seatings, call 783-3211.

What: Villa san Marcel

Where: 1799 B Ironwood Drive, Minden

When: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Dinner: 5-until closing Monday through Saturday

Info: 783-3211


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