Pascal Lorange. Courtesy photo
Pascal Lorange. Courtesy photo

As a boy growing up in Belgium, it was natural for Pascal Lorange to develop a love for the culinary scene.

“My family has four generations of chefs,” said Lorange, who now lives in San Diego. “I remember being in the kitchen when I was 12 and breading the chicken and sausage. I’ll always remember that.”

Fast-forward to today, Lorange is the founder of Crudo, a Mediterranean and Asian-inspired restaurant that recently opened in Carmel Valley. The restaurant, which has quickly grown in popularity, is one of many restaurants Lorange has opened in the U.S.

Lorange is a partner behind the crowd-pleasing Fig & Olive Restaurants, a chain of eateries found in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and Chicago. After opening eight restaurants with the brand and cooking for dignitaries such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Lorange chose to bring his talent to San Diego.

“I came here to visit and loved it,” Lorange said. “I decided to be on my own and start a new adventure. I wanted to do something that was 100 percent me.”

Crudo, which means “raw” in Italian, offers healthy and light cuisines that emphasize the natural tastes of foods.

“I’m not using cream or butter,” Lorange said. “What we try to do is highlight the flavor and texture of the ingredients. If it’s a tomato, it will taste like a tomato.”

Lorange said he began to develop the concept of Crudo about eight years ago while living in New York. Being a fan of sushi, he wanted to explore the idea behind raw seafood dishes.

One of Lorange’s signature options are the Mediterranean sushi rolls. Rolls such as pesto rice wrapped with prosciutto, black olive tapenade, arugula, nori, tomato, aged balsamic olive oil emulsion and nori, tomato, cucumber, radish, capers, yogurt dill, ricotta spread, dill & horseradish olive oil emulsion are just some of the offerings at Crudo.

But, Lorange doesn’t plan to stop in San Diego. The man, who has been in the kitchen for more than 25 years, plans to open a second Crudo location in Costa Mesa in January.

“I want to keep pleasing my guests,” Lorange said. “I hope to keep working in the kitchen and open more restaurants.”

Crudo by Pascal Lorange is located at The Village at Pacific Highland Ranch in Carmel Valley, 5965 Village Way.