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Meet and Eat

Chef Christian Losito presents his signature Seafood Thermidor

By Jami Gaudet

Photography by Jessica Whitley

 

This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting local chefs and skillful cooks with a lagniappe — a signature recipe. To kick off our series, meet one of Macon’s top chefs since the mid-1990s, Christian Losito, chef and proprietor of Christian’s. 

 

His vanity license plate just might say it all — FR CHEF. Christian Losito is regarded as one Macon’s finest chefs, French or otherwise, a reputation he’s garnered over a quarter-century in several of the city’s top dining spots.  

 

Losito arrived in Macon in 1994 at the invitation of Private Club Associates, the management company of the City Club, which, for 16 years ran the private downtown dining and event space on top of the Macon Health Club that catered to the business community. There, Losito got his start when Private Club Associates took a chance on him and he took a chance on Macon. 

 

Decades later, former City Club general manager Ted Robinson remains a fan.

 

“Christian brought a special flair to Macon — from the City Club to Café Provence, the Back Burner, and now, to Christian’s,” Robinson said. “In addition to his special culinary skills, he’s a wonderful people person and the best at creating a memorable and lasting hospitality culture.”

 

 

Born and raised in Nice, France, Christian said people are incredulous that a native of the French Riviera would choose to spend his life in a small city in Georgia. 

 

“Initially, I was unsure about Macon,” Losito admitted, “but I quickly grew to love the city and the South. The people are very nice and Southern hospitality is real.”

 

Undoubtedly, moving to Macon was a leap of faith, but after working in his brother’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., followed by a stint at the University and Whist Club in Wilmington, Delaware, Christian was ready for the challenge served up by the City Club.

 

In 1996, after two years as a food and beverage manager, Christian departed with his colleague, chef Daniel Adam, to open Café Provence on Vineville Avenue. A year and a half later, Adam bought him out.

 

While studying Macon’s restaurant landscape to determine his next move, local business intermediary Charles Jay contacted Losito about the availability of a former tea room on Ingleside Avenue. Christian struck a deal for the building and found investors to assist with financing to overhaul the building.

 

“Macon was ready for something different and I envisioned a quaint eatery like one might find on a roadside on the outskirts of a small town in France,” he said.

 

 

Quickly, the Back Burner became a fixture in Macon’s restaurant scene, a tribute to Losito’s imaginative French-inspired cuisine, and in one year he repaid the loan. 

 

After nearly 20 years on Ingleside, Losito was approached by a buyer for the Back Burner, and once again, the restauranteur was without a restaurant. While pondering his future, he was asked to serve as chef at John Wesley Villas, a local assisted living facility. He enjoyed the people, but longed for the creativity a fine dining establishment demands. 

 

In August 2018, a friend in food services suggested a potential restaurant location on Bass Road. Located in a small strip center next door to a Georgia Lottery outpost, the site initially housed a Starbucks followed by two short-lived restaurants. 

 

Intrigued, Losito listened to cautions about the restaurant’s location from well-meaning friends, but he believed he could be successful there: “I was confident in my ability and trusted that my clientele would follow me to North Macon.” 

 

Christian reconfigured the space and forged ahead with a new 50-seat restaurant with décor that he called “elegant without being stuffy.”

 

Since opening May 1, Christian’s has been operating at near capacity for dinner weeknights and serving more than 100 dinners on weekends with cuisine he describes as a mix of French country and continental. Open five nights a week, the tireless Losito seems to have boundless energy for his latest venture.

 

 

“I’m doing what I love and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I didn’t have to do this, but I’m not a handyman and don’t do carpentry or things that would keep me busy at home,” he said. “I’m healthy, and retirement is not on the horizon.” 

 

Losito is well aware that diners in upscale restaurants expect “an experience” in addition to high quality food.

 

“I thought Christian’s would be a very nice addition to Macon’s plethora of good eateries. It’s special, but people dine here for more than special occasions. A lot of people eat here two and three times a week. They tell me the place is beautiful and another upscale restaurant is a welcome addition to North Macon,” he said. “There are a lot of good restaurants in Macon today, but it’s nice to give people a choice, which we do. Plus, we’re the only upscale restaurant on Bass Road that serves lunch, which fills a void and is another way to introduce people to the restaurant.”   

 

Christian’s is attracting a steady stream of new, young diners along with loyal, longtime patrons. And given the restaurant’s strong start, it seems that someone finally has cracked the code for success at 1693 Bass Road. It’s no surprise that Christian Losito was the one.  

 

 

A Moment with Christian Losito

Do you put love into the creation of your food? 

I put love in everything I do, especially when it comes to food as it has been my passion since I was very young.

 

Does your food make our community better?

I believe it does because it gives the community another opportunity to experience wholesome food prepared in the tradition of fine cuisine.

 

Do you hope your food contributes to a greater good in some way? 

I believe that a dish well-presented and well-prepared contributes to a lot of good in the food industry.

 

What do you eat for breakfast?

Soft boiled eggs and bacon.

 

Christian Losito’s Signature Dish

Losito said the restaurant’s most popular menu entrée is Seafood Thermidor. The chef, like many of his guests, loves seafood — shellfish in particular. And what could be more enticing than large, tender sea scallops paired with fresh shrimp and mussels?

 

“I love to create new dishes,” Losito said. “This one incorporates the shellfish I love most, and a lobster tail is always a big attraction.”

 

For flavor, he tops the dish with a velvety velouté, one of the five “mother sauces” of French cuisine, prepared with lobster base, which also imparts a rich coral color. 

 

For wine to accompany Seafood Thermidor, Losito said, “My first choice would be a good Pinot Grigio, which goes well with shellfish, but a good Chardonnay also works.”  

 

Christian calls Seafood Thermidor an “any occasion special dish,” adding that seafood accounts for 70 percent of what the restaurant sells. Making his point, on a recent Saturday evening, he said 37 of the 110 entrées ordered were Seafood Thermidor.

 

Seafood Thermidor, as described on the menu:

Maine Lobster, Sea Scallops and Shrimp Flambee with Brandy

Prepared with a Cream Veloute over a Crusty Pastry Shell

 

For each entree:

3 jumbo shrimp

1 3-ounce lobster tail

2 jumbo sea scallops, cut in quarters

3 mussels in shell, shells scrubbed

1 tablespoon lobster base (Lobster base is available for purchase online.)

1/2 cup brandy (unflavored)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1 round homemade puff pastry shell, warmed (or found in frozen food section) 

 

  • Cut lobster tail in half and cut scallops into quarters. Set aside. 

 

  • Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add lobster and scallops, coating with olive oil. Add shrimp and mussels to the skillet. Pour brandy over seafood and let it flame out. 

 

  • In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup water to lobster base and combine. Add cream and salt to lobster base mixture and mix thoroughly. 

 

  • Pour mixture into skillet over the seafood and gently toss to coat, allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken.

 

  • Warm the pastry shell and place on plate, then pour seafood into shell until shell is full. Place remaining seafood around the plate and puddle remaining sauce on the plate around the seafood.

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