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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

The universe has a funny way of correcting itself when the need arises. If you have a healthy relationship with openness and awareness you will recognize this and see minor frustrations and setbacks for what they are--signals and signposts that are leading you down the right path. Case in point-- the other night I was invited to a private dinner for Jacques Pepin in the home of Rebecca Alssid, head of BU's Culinary school which she established a number of years ago with the help of Julia Childs. Before heading out to dinner I was dismayed to find that my camera was busted, and I would not have a chance to snap pictures of this dinner for this blog. You can understand my frustration, I mean it's not every day I get invited to dinner with a group of world-class, and well renowned foodies. Yet, I believe the my broken camera was trying to tell me to step back, relax, enjoy this memorable dinner without trying to transform it into another photoshoot. And that's exactly what I did.

If you don't know about Jacques, then let me say that it is not hyperbole to state that he is a living legend in the food world. Long before the Food Network, before, before the new wave of celebrity chefs on steroids, and before citizens bloggers like myself started pontificating about food on the information super highway, Jacques was cooking for Charles De Gaulle, spreading his gospel of French technique while starring in several television shows with Julia Childs, and writing around 18 cookbooks. He turned down a job at the White House to help start the Howard Johnson's chain of hotels, received a Master's Degree at Columbia in French poetry, has won Emmys and in 2004 was awarded the Légion d'honneur.

And so this was the man, who sat next to me eating chocolates after a satisfying dinner of beef bourguignon, made from a recipe from his new book, Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook (w/Tom Hopkins, 2007). Now, I'm not a sales person, but based on this dish alone, I recommend you go out and get this book. The beef was tender, moist, and delicious, and easy to make. Make it a day early, as Rebecca did, and the wine and flavors will taste even better when it reaches your plate.

That night, when I remarked how excited I was to have a home cooked dinner, and someone responded by saying, "Well, you've done a good job of setting the bar pretty high." Indeed, I did.

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