A Night to Remember

As many of you know now, I was given the honor of being named Master Chef of France in late 2011. The induction ceremony took place in France on March 24, 2012. This event coincided perfectly with my Mom’s birthday and since I wanted to take my sous-Chef, Manuel, to France for some culinary inspiration, I booked my trip right away. This is the account of my week-long trip to France, adventure by culinary adventure. Enjoy!

So yesterday I told you about my friend Lionel that drove into Perpignan as I was finishing lunch at La Villa Duflot. We were planning to meet up in the city but my lunch had been moved to a location 20 minutes outside of Perpignan. I was also planning to meet with a French chef – Cedric – that had contacted me through Facebook and who is interested in working in the US. All three of us needed to meet but we were in 3 different places. So what did I do? I called Cedric and asked if he could pick up Lionel at the hotel and then come to the resort on the coast to meet me. The suggestion wasn’t that bad considering the fancy location and great weather. Later I realized what a crazy idea it really was because I did not even know Cedric! He could have turned out to be some lunatic! Fortunately he was a nice guy and after our visit he took both Lionel and me back to the hotel in Perpignan.

Fast forward to that night, Monday night. We had just been informed that morning that we needed to come dressed to the gala in a suit and tie. At the last minute, I had to iron a shirt and let me tell you, I’m not the ironing king! I got myself ready for the evening festivities and brought along another white chef’s jacket. It’s a good thing that I brought 3 of them with me on my trip! Lionel came as my guest and was my faithful cameraman throughout the night, helping me record this special moment.

I’m in!

When we arrived, the room was set for the party. The funny thing is that the ceremony took place in a church (again, only in France!).  Everything was in place and ready to go; and fortunately we got business out of the way first. They called all the Master Chefs on stage one by one to shake hands with the president and get our picture taken as we were presented our certificates. Once that was behind us, we were able to concentrate on my favorite part again…the food!

Here are some of the delicious dishes we were served:

lobster with pea puree

veal wellington revisited with truffle and foie gras

sheep cheese, ice cream parfait with creme fraiche, red currant jelly and blueberry coulis

dessert from the World Champion Pastry Chef – passion fruit mousse, sponge cake, Chantilly and topped with biscuit crumbs, a sugar tuile and fresh red currant

sweet amber wine

Once the party died down, I decided to head back to the hotel because I still had work to do. I stayed up late sending updates and photos about my trip back to my assistant in Houston-again.

Finally at 3am, I decided that I had to get some rest before my trip back to Paris the next day. I mentioned yesterday that my schedule was very detailed. So far, everything was going as planned and I was on schedule. If one thing went wrong though then it would “thow sand in the gears” and mess up everything…I did not know what was waiting for me the next day.

French lesson of the day: Mettre un grain de sable dans l’engrenage

Translation: To throw sand in the gears


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