Paul Prudhomme was a topic of discussion on our show last week. We were discussing New Orlean's cuisine and his eponymous restaurant, K-Paul's Kitchen. In the early eighties I made my first pilgrimage to the Crescent City; I waited in line for an hour to get a table at his restaurant to eat his signature blackened redfish. Chef Paul was one of the very first chef rock stars in America; I was giddy with delight to be in his presence at his ancestral home.
So imagine my surprise last night night when I had the opportunity to meet him!
I am attending the Fancy Food show with my pal and frequent Food Guy & Marcy contributor Marlena Spieler. We had just left the Australian event when we happened upon the Stubb's BBQ party and it was rocking! Being funsters we decided to see if we could crash it. Technically we weren't exactly crashing. The publicist Sabina had contacted me earlier in the week, but my name wasn't on the official list. Marlena batted her eyelashes (it doesn't hurt she's a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times) and we were in.
The first thing I noticed is that at a BBQ bash, the man to woman ratio was staggeringly in our favor. What is it about meat cooked low and slow that is so primal and brings out the beast, er best, in a man?
We followed our noses to the smoked meats buffet. I piled my plate high with brisket and smoked Louisiana links. No cutlery was handy. Marlena suggested we eat with our hands. Actually kinda fun and a good excuse to lick the spicy and not too sweet Stubb's BBQ sauce off my fingers.
We were searching for other delectable ingestibles when, lo and behold, behind the table serving red beans and rice, was Chef Paul Prudhomme. I must admit that I did not recognize him. Marlena introduced me to him and I was sure she was mistaken. I consulted the brochure and it had Paul Prudhomme's photo on it but it didn't match my memory. The reason is he is a mere slip of his former self. He's lost four hundred pounds in the last fourteen years!
Between his unassuming demeanor and dramatic weight loss it would be easy to miss him, until you speak with him. His passion, commitment and enthusiasm for food still oozes out of him.
Laissez bon temps roulez!!!