Advice please, what would you serve?

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Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Howard » Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:43 am

The son of a very famous, well respected, trendsetting, haute cuisine chef has transferred into my son's school. My wife, as a member of the new student welcoming committee, received a very nice e-mail from the chef thanking her for welcoming them into the school community and further, they would be delighted to get together with us in order to get to know each other better.

Now what? This is complicated by the fact that we are moving in about 4 weeks so our house is a wreck. I certainly can't cook for these people. I'd be too embarassed. Do we meet at a restaurant?? Where/what does a master chef eat when not working?

I'm not usually star-struck but I do have a lot of respect for people who have risen to the top of their profession. It's usually a result of enormous amount of hard work, intellect, creativity and critical doses of good luck at the appropriates times. Nonetheless I'm both excited and terrified at the thought of actually meeting this person. How would you handle it?
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:33 pm

Howard
After hearing the dietary habits of some very good chefs, you'd be surprised at what they eat after an evenings work. The last thing I'd do is go for anything too posh, as that's their job and they probably don't want to be reminded of their work. You've recognised that you won't be able to compete.

I'd go for simple & wholesome, but maybe a time to wheel out any regular favourites to ensure you're not too worried about how it will come out.

A good one-pot dish is always an option and a sociable "everyone dig in" option at that. Why not the coq au vin recently posted? Or a hearty casserole? (Sausage and bean is a favourite of ours) Or a good warming Chilli?

Better in my mind to do something simple and well, than something exotic and risky (hold the souffle!).

What you can do though, is let the wine take centre stage and choose food that will complement some interesting wines. That way the focus shifts away from the food, onto the wine.

Hope it goes well.

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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Hoke » Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:50 pm

I think Ian has given exceptionally sound advice.

I've had the privilege of knowing a few great chefs over the years, and of working with many. And Ian is right. These guys, on their own time, tend to like simpler, less exalted preparations based on superb freshness of ingredients.

I was once faced with your dilemma, in a way, many years ago, when unexpectedly a guest brought along a friend---who just happened to be IMHO one of the single best chefs in the entire country at the time. I was flabbergasted. And terrified, as I had put up a crockpot style of a cassoulet-like bean dish as the main course. Turned out he absolutely loved bean dishes, as that was his Grandma's best dish, and he wolfed down two huge servings with appreciative noises.

So don't agonize too much. Fix something basic and straightforward, using top notch fresh ingredients. And the chef will likely appreciate it. The fancier you get, the more likely the chance of a disaster. :D

Or you can call out for pizza!
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Andrew Shults » Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:01 pm

I agree with Ian. My girlfriend's brother is a chef (although not in the "very famous, well respected, trendsetting, haute cuisine" league), and I am somewhat appalled by what he eats at home. The only merits of his personal "food" (not the food he cooks on the job) is that it has calories and requires little effort to prepare.

Go with something hearty and traditional that says "family meal" instead of "restaurant." If it's an old family recipe passed down from a great-great-great-grandmother, even better (as long as it's not the first time you're tying to make it).

Remember that the goal is to make the chef and his son feel welcome, not to impress them. A person with a larger-than-life public image has enough people trying to impress him, but probably few friends where he can just be himself instead of living up to an image.
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:14 pm

Would another possibility be to meet at an interesting ethic restaurant in the area?

Mike

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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Sep 01, 2006 2:03 pm

Are the chef and his family from another town? If so, they might like being introduced to a few good restaurants in the area. Maybe go to one for an appetizer, another for the main, and dessert at your home, along with an after dinner drink or coffee.

If they simply transferred school districts, I'd vote for a simple meal at home, maybe grilling the entire meal, even some fresh peaches grilled for dessert served over a great vanilla bean ice cream. Most of all, be relaxed, have fun, pay attention to the kids and don't apologize for the fact that you are moving, and things are out of place. It's life!
I do know how you feel.....been there, and was scared to death. It all worked out and so will your get together.
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby ChefCarey » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:41 pm

Howard wrote:The son of a very famous, well respected, trendsetting, haute cuisine chef has transferred into my son's school. My wife, as a member of the new student welcoming committee, received a very nice e-mail from the chef thanking her for welcoming them into the school community and further, they would be delighted to get together with us in order to get to know each other better.

Now what? This is complicated by the fact that we are moving in about 4 weeks so our house is a wreck. I certainly can't cook for these people. I'd be too embarassed. Do we meet at a restaurant?? Where/what does a master chef eat when not working?

I'm not usually star-struck but I do have a lot of respect for people who have risen to the top of their profession. It's usually a result of enormous amount of hard work, intellect, creativity and critical doses of good luck at the appropriates times. Nonetheless I'm both excited and terrified at the thought of actually meeting this person. How would you handle it?


Simple fresh fare - no sauces.
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Howard » Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:37 am

Ian, Hoke and Andrew - thanks very much for your advice it makes sense. I'm thinking about a nice beef and wine stew over polenta with some homemade bread and maybe homemade ice cream for dessert. I'll let you know.

Mike - an interesting idea but I don't know if this chef would want to go out to a restaurant where they might be recognized?? I'll have to think on that one.

Karen - this chef is definitely from Chicago. I like the simple meal at home idea in spite of being surrounded by boxes from our upcoming move.

ChefCarey - Agreed


Thanks all for your thoughts. If it happens at all, I'll report back here.
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Jenise » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:56 pm

Howard, I'm coming to this topic late but can't resist adding my two cents. Advice #1: cook at home. You will endear yourself to this man forever if you do--people who cook for a living NEVER get invited to dinner, and your willingness to treat him like a regular friend/guest in your home will earn you his undying respect. Ian and Hoke gave you the right advice for what to do once you decide to do that. The beef stew and polenta menu sounds PERFECT.
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Re: Advice please, what would you serve?

Postby Howard » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:13 pm

Thanks Jenise, Sandy has since spoken to them and the spouse mentioned that they never seem to get asked out to people's homes for dinner!! They have invited us to their home for now with the expectation that once we move, we will reciprocate. So far they seem like nice people and I'm looking forward to cooking something for them.
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