Search This Blog

Monday, November 02, 2015

A Farewell To A Great Chef

At times, certain people knowingly or not will leave an unforgettable mark upon your life. Perhaps in their conduct, their writings or simply in a word spoken at the right time.  They are great because of their accomplishments in overcoming diverse trials; some are great because of the honor that they created upon their name, while others are so because of the change they have made in the lives of many for the better.
Such a man was Chef Paul Prudhomme, from a sharecropper family of thirteen children chef Paul gleaned his love for the great fresh food upon the strings of his mothers apron.  Later he traveled the highways and byways of American refining his craft in style and in knowledge returning to Louisiana to head some of the great Creole kitchens of the world. Never limiting himself, he considered the earth his table, he believed that only what was of quality was worthy of his culinary styling. The complexity of cuisine was found in itself and therefore required just a little coaxing to make that ingredient shine. He perhaps was the father of the farm to table movement now most popular in the restaurants of today.

As a Cajun cook, Paul knew that value of combining cultures, it matter little whether the cuisine was native American, French, Latin, West Indian, Asian, Eastern European or any other culture, food of that culture meant flavor combinations that could lead to the “wow” factor upon the palate. His “fresh is best” convictions lead him to such exceptional awards as: “Restaurateur of the Year”, “Culinarian of the Year”, Diplomates Award, Louisiana Public Broadcasting Legend Award, “Fine Dining Legend Award” along with many, many others. He was an actual legend in his own time.

As a culinary author Chef Paul created cookbooks that reflected his strong belief that good food is found within the hands of whom ever is cooking it. They simply had to follow the basics and give the rightful homage to the ingredient. Internationally recognized for being responsible for instructing the world in Cajun/Creole cuisines his writing were never limited to that approach in cuisine but rather that blending of cultures that made his culinary writings well worth reading.

As most great chefs are, Chef Paul was a teacher, proved by his writings, his television programs and his hands on approach to his food served in his French Quarter restaurant K-Pauls. This is where I first met the great chef, not behind the stoves, cutting boards or bain maries within the kitchen, but rather on the street in front of restaurant handing out samples of his breathtaking food. That day it was his Chicken Jambalaya served over fusilli pasta that tickled the taste buds, coaxing patrons to return that evening and dine in his award winning restaurant, if you didn’t return you still left New Orleans knowing you had sampled greatness in food.

Later on Chef Paul’s writings would inspire many of the dishes I would serve in my own restaurants, thus passing on to others the inspiration Chef Paul became to me. Many of my students and apprentice chefs have had the benefit of his knowledge which was passed on from me to them. As an educator passing on wisdom played a great value in his cooking style,thus many of my cookbooks and writing have taken on Chef Paul’s philosophy.

Chef Paul was a visionary, a pioneer, a culinary legend, his life and memory will be honored with every mouthful of delicious Louisiana cuisine. Blackened Redfish, Turducken, Cajun gumbos, jambalayas and dirty rice would be Chef Paul’s choice of how we remember him best. At 75 we will miss this great and talented man. R..I.P. Chef Paul

My version of a Chef Paul’s recipe, I hope you remember his greatness when prepare this dish.


1½ lbs        670 g          Diced boneless chicken
2 tbsp        30 ml           Safflower oil
2 tbsp        30 ml           Butter
½ lb           225 g          Andouille sausage (or any hot raw sausage)
½ cup        125 ml         Diced onions
2                2                 Minced garlic cloves
3 tbsp        45 ml           Chopped parsley
½ cup        375 ml         Diced green bell pepper
2                2                 Diced celery stalks
2 cups        500 ml         Peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
1 tsp          3 ml             Each of white pepper, black pepper, oregano leaves, basil, thyme leaves,                                                      garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder.
2 tsp           10 ml          Worcestershire sauce
3 drops       3 drops       Tabasco sauce
1 lb.            454 g          Fettuccini noodles


In a Dutch oven or large kettle, sauté the chicken in the oil and butter, add the sausage and vegetables and continue to sauté until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the remaining ingredients (except pasta).  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 40-45 minutes.

Cook the fettuccini to al dente in 8 cups (2 l) boiling salted water.  Drain.  Toss the pasta first with a small amount of the sauce then place on a serving platter. Pour chicken on the noodles and serve. SERVES 6