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Rhode Island’s Top Chefs Name Their “Last Suppers”

Thursday, December 06, 2012


The man behind Chez Pascal and the Wurst Kitchen, Matt Gennuso, has a food fantasy that includes two oversized British women. Photo: Jen's Dish.

While we're all busily planning our perfect holiday meal, we got to fantasizing about the perfect meal... better yet, our very last meal. Where would it be? Who would prepare it? Who would we want as dining companions? Where better to go for inspiration than a sampling of Rhode Island's top chefs, who've chosen their last suppers. The problem now? We're craving everything!

Matt Genuso, Chez Pascal, Providence

Well for pure enjoyment I would say Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson. They were the stars of “Two Fat Ladies,” a cooking show that aired on the BBC in the late 1990s. They made almost everything with bacon, which of course I love. For my last meal, we could shoot pheasant, cook it up, and I could ride off into the sunset in their sidecar. 960 Hope St. 421-4422, www.chez-pascal.com Photo: Jen's Dish

Jake Rojas, Tallulah on Thames, Newport

For his last meal, Tallulah on Thames' Jake Rojas will be heading to El Paso, Texas, to the table of Elvira Puentes.

My last meal, without a doubt, would be prepared by Mrs. Elvira Puentes, owner of the Good Luck Café in El Paso, Texas. If you want Mexican food the way grandma makes it, you go here—no questions asked. It has been a staple in town since 1960. So my last meal would be nothing but a large bowl of their famous menudo, their famous tripe and hominy stew that the restaurant has served every day since 1968. I’d have it with all the fixings: onion, cilantro, lime, and buttered bollio rolls. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Last time I was there I begged her for a recipe for a traditional soup that I love, and we’ll feature it on our taco cart this winter at the Coastal Growers Market in North Kingstown. 464 Thames St. 849-2433, www.tallulahonthames.com

Nemo Bolin, Cook and Brown Public House, Providence

This is always a tough question. I think it would have to be Chef Michel Bras, who owns a Michelin three-star restaurant in the French countryside. Bras is known for the purity of his ingredients as well as his complex, time-consuming techniques (but is perhaps best known for creating the ubiquitous chocolate molten lava cake). What would I ask him to make? I would just let him do his thing. He's a master. But before any of this, I would have to get beyond the sentimental aspect of it being the last meal. Otherwise, I would just be with my whole family, cooking Thanksgiving dinner together. It is always one of the best days and nights of the year. 959 Hope St. 273-7275, www.cookandbrown.com

Andrea Leonardo, Waterplace Restaurant, Providence

If I had to choose someone to cook my last supper besides my grandmother, who made the best food and from whom I learned so much, it would be Chef Michel Richard, owner of Citronelle in Washington, DC . From the time I wanted to become a chef I was always fascinated with him. I don't know if it's because he is French or that he has so much to give with his culinary knowledge, but I love it when a chef has a background in both baking and cooking. I don’t know what single item I would want him to cook for me. But it has to be something from his childhood. Even the greatest professional chefs are inspired by their mom’s meatloaf, and they talk about how they can’t make it as perfectly as she did. You always hear the stories about my mom made the best meatloaf as a child and I can’t make it the same. I want Michel Richard making that dish for me. Something he is passionate about that I could be happy with as my last supper. 1 Finance Way, 272-1040, www.waterplaceri.com

Kevin Thiele, The Hotel Viking, Newport

I am blessed with a mother who can really cook. Her father's side of the family were all from Calbria, Italy. My grandfather always had a garden as did my mother. The ingredients were as fresh as possible at all times. As you can imagine, my siblings and I ate very well growing up. If I were to have a last meal, my mother would be cooking it for me. I would have her cavatelli pasta with braised shortribs and pork/veal meatballs which she seared and braised in a classic tomato sauce. The sauce is always made from the tomatoes and herbs grown in the garden. She also serves the dish with a side of Swiss chard patties (sauteed garlic with swiss chard, chopped, mixed with egg, bread crumb, parmesan and pan fried). 1 Bellevue Ave. 847-3300, www.hotelviking.com

Michael Martini, Providence-Newport Gourmet Tours

That’s right, I am inserting myself in to my own story! The truth is, that it is impossible to be a chef (which I formerly am) and not have an opinion on this question. And, as the owner and tour guide of Providence/Newport Gourmet Tours, I am in and out of the best kitchens in the state three days a week, and constantly inspired by the chefs there. My last meal would be a re-creation of the first meal I had that changed my life. I was a culinary student at RISD in the early 1990s, and a chef-instructor took three of us to New York City to meet and dine with Chef Charlie Palmer of Aureole and Rick Moonen of the Water Club. The next ten hours changed everything I ever thought food could be. We finished at the Chefs Cuisiniers Club where the chef took pity on us and kept it to three courses. These were the first great American chefs and I was lucky enough to bask in that greatness for fifteen courses. It would be the perfect way to go out! 108 Sefton Dr. 787-4058, www.newportgourmettours.com


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