Le Farm's Signature Dish: Chef Arik Bensimon & Bill Taibe Talk Poutine

Lou Gorfain

Would Bensimom  consider an encore of LePoutine for our readers?  You bet!  He’s putting the dish back on the LeFarm menu for a limited run, January 23 -25.  Not to be missed.  (If bacon ate, it would eat Poutine.)

Foie gras and Poutine are two foods not usually found in the same sentence, much less married in a restaurant dish.   But if you were dining at  LeFarm a couple of years ago,  “LePoutine”  was the crazy delicious rock star in the room – a decadent, playful, steamy mashup of foie gras, fried potatoes, wine,  beef cheeks, kale,  gravy and imagination.

A Montreal favorite, Poutine is unadulterated cardiac-on-a-plate, usually devoured with great gusto, its grease supposedly the perfect insulation before or and after a hard night of drinking. (It should be duly noted that Le Farm’s version, unlike the French Canadian, didn’t include the traditional cheese curds.  But buttery Foie Gras more than made up for the missing fat calories.)

“It was big, it was indulgent, and people just loved it. So did we,” Bill Taibe, the founder of LeFarm told us, grinning with the memory of his exciting crowd pleaser.  

Chef Arik Bensimon, who now runs the kitchen, agrees that Foie gras is part of LeFarm’s  legacy.  If there were signature, foie gras would be it: an ingredient, a substitute, a star that doesn’t need to work solo.  In other restaurants, foie gras is served up as a precious delicacy.  At LeFarm, it may be a delicacy, but it’s not treated delicately.  Bill once caramelized some left over liver as an icing for a dessert cake.   Its candied sweetness encouraged him to go even further.   

He had used a new Paco jet processor to pulverize peaches for the cake topping.  Pleased with the smooth result, Bill tried his new toy on foie gras.  The result was an even spread that he could incorporate into the batter, replacing the butter with buttery foie gras, exchanging one fat for another.  Voila, LeCake.

How do both Bensimon and Taibe conjure combinations that few cooks have ever fathomed?

It is mostly is driven by ingredients.  What’s available on the farm. What’s left over in the kitchen.  What sounds really good to eat.    

Le Poutine was born when Taibe had to deal with left over scraps of foie gras, extra potatoes, and beef cheeks. Few unused ingredients  get thrown away in a restaurant. He decided to mix them together and do Poutine, a fun foie gras salute to the Quebec favorite.  He knew the potato and steaming gravy would frame the tender meat and buttery foie gras, the rich fatty flavors melding more and more, changing each other’s textures and taste.  

But when the LeFarm team first tried the mixture, the texture wasn’t right.   It needed a counterpoint.

They came up with one more ingredient:  Kale.  It had a crunch. It had color. Plus it was a vegetable.    (Heart surgeons throughout Connecticut heaved sighs of relief.)

Le Potine preceeded LeCake.  But for some enchanted evenings, they appeared together on the menu.   It was short lived because LeFarm refrained from keeping any dish a constant in their ever changing roster.   As a result. there were not really any signature dishes.   Just memorable ones.   The restaurant was built on change.

“This is Arik’s kitchen now,” Taibe told us. “Though we still play my Rock and Roll on the speakers.” Talented Chef  Beninson (like Bill, once executive chef at Napa and Company in Stamford)  shares Taibe’s philosophy but cooks with his own personality. 

 When he and Bill recently recreated the dish for CTBites,  Arik made slight adjustments in proportions and ingredients, but the result was sensational.   

After tasting LePoutine, Stephanie Webster swears it’s one of the best dishes she’s tried in the past year

Would Bensimom  consider an encore of LePoutine for our readers?  You bet!  He’s putting the dish back on the LeFarm menu for a limited run, January 23 -25.  Not to be missed.  (If bacon ate, it would eat Poutine.)


He started at 14 years old in his aunt and uncle’s Pasta Prego in Manhattan and became addicted to the adrenaline rush of the kitchen. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America,  Arik refined his pedigree at  Picholine and Le Cirque in the City.  Tiring of the subway, and yearning for trees and sunshine, he cooked at LaPanetiere in Rye, before succeeding Bill Taibe at Napa.    His philosophy of cooking mirrors Taibe’s:  deploying the very best ingredients available, as local as possible.   That availability drives  every dish on the ever-changing movable feast that is LeFarm.    Arik says the only constants are risotto balls, the famed burger, chicken…. and, of course, foie gras.


As a rock and roll kid, he didn’t care much for the classroom. Rather, Bill loved the lessons about life he learned working part time at a butcher shop and a catering company.  A college dropout, he finally ended up at a culinary school in Baltimore (CIA was too close to home, to his posse, to temptation).  Post graduation, he worked his way through restaurants in Westchester and Connecticut, winning critical raves and attracting rabid followings.   After Napa and Company in Stamford and his own late lamented Relish in Sono, Bill helped ignite the Westport food renaissance with the breathtaking success of LeFarm in 2009.  Last year his sea fooder, The Whelk, opened to much acclaim and great crowds, doing for Le Seawhat LeFarm did for Le Soil. 

Bill continues to dodge classrooms.