Hey everyone! It’s Chef Brendan here and I wanted to talk a little about some past fond food memories as well as about the fun bountiful season we are heading into.
When I was 21, I trekked across the Atlantic for the second time in my early culinary career. I was destined for the small town Bouxwiller in the Alsace region of France, which is roughly a 1/2 hours drive from the “big” city of Strasbourg. I had a job secured in a small hotel in the town, where I worked both front and back of the house. Believe it or not i was actually waiting tables in France! Since I had no formal training in the French language, the owner of the property would prep me with what to recite to tables and what the possible responses I would hear back. Here in this town is where I started to develop my love for the simplicity of regional food. I learned it from the families I would dine with after hours from the hotel as well as from the food markets we traveled to. I had never experienced anything like this on my first trip to France, mainly because I was in the kitchen everyday. I was eating foods like choucroute, schnitzel, coq au Riesling, baeckeoffe and my most favorite tarte flambé (Alsatian pizza) ! The food was so rustic that it warmed you from the inside out. I truly felt at home! Here is a link to the hotel I worked at as well as some beautiful photos of the region and town.
While working in Bouxwiller, I received a call from one of my culinary instructors about an opportunity to cook on a French Paniche that would require traveling through The Soane a la Marne to Joinville in Champagne and ending in Burgundy. I was hooked and signed up immediately. When I arrived in Joinville, I was greeted by a woman who very likely was following in footsteps of Julia Childs, her name is Kate Hill. Kate had purchased a French barge and started traveling the canals and doing private trips for couples through France. I had the opportunity to cook for 2 couples from Kansas City on vacation in France! In addition to working the barge and canal locks, I worked as the in-house cook and did my shopping at local markets when we stopped for the day. Again, this trip focused on the regional, comfort food from the markets in the small towns we stopped in. My payment from Kate was a dinner at George Blanc, who’s food centers around his mother!
This trip to France truly changed my concept of food by showing me where Haute Cuisine really came from; the people, the markets and what the French like to call the “terroir” or the region.
As we head into the fall season, my memories from France come forward. The food at the Co-op will definitely reflect these memories I have from my early culinary career. Please enjoy the links, and I look forward to seeing you at the Co-op!
Here is a link to Kate Hill’s cooking school in Gascony.