This Is the End: 9 Chefs on Their Last Suppers

What would you want to eat for your last meal? The sky’s the limit; anything you want. Don’t get bogged down in the finality of the situation. Instead, think about the dishes and drinks that have given you the most pleasure in your life. This might be the first time you’re considering this question, but many chefs think about it constantly. After all, their lives are focused on and consumed by food, so they have some pretty strong feelings on the subject. We asked nine of them what they would want to enjoy for their last suppers before joining James Beard and Escoffier in the great big kitchen in the sky.

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
“I imagine my last supper with my husband, family, and closest friends. I’d start with tuna nigiri with ginger and soy sauce. Followed by a bowl of buckwheat chitarra with anchovies and chickpeas, which I’d make myself. I’d move on to chestnut trofie with financière sauce featuring sweetbreads, veal, and chicken livers by Roberto Donna of Al Dente in Washington, D.C. From there, I’d want pad si-ew with duck and Chinese broccoli at Duangrat’s Thai in Fall’s Church, Virginia. Next up? Pat LaFrieda’s ribeye with turnip greens cooked with garlic, hot pepper, and anchovies, plus Robuchon potatoes from Rose’s Luxury in Washington, D.C. To finish, I’d have one of my favorite desserts: coffee gelato with whipped cream, salted peanuts, and Kahlua.” Make a reservation at Centrolina.

Last Suppers

Juan Manuel Barrientos, El Cielo, Miami, Florida
“I’d want traditional Colombian cuisine – fried rice, plantains, chorizo, chicharrón, avocados, arepas with hogao sauce (made with tomato and onion), and aguardiente (an anise flavored liqueur). Dessert would be sweet figs cooked tender in sweet water served with queso blanco, along with coffee and guarapo (cane sugar juice). Everything would be served family style and, of course, my family would be there. Family is the most important thing for me, and they bring balance to my life.” Make a reservation at El Cielo.

Last Suppers

Trae Basore, Pearl & Ash, New York, New York
“I would start off with a plate of fried pickles from Penguin Ed’s Bar-B-Q in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a tall New Belgium Fat Tire. For dinner, I’d just have charcuterie – mortadella, chicken liver paté – and a cheese plate with three year-aged Parmesan, a stinky Époisses, and a really nice Gorgonzola. That would come with a big crusty French loaf, Dijon mustard, and pickles. A pint of strawberry Häagen-Dazs to finish. I’d like to enjoy it with my fiancée and all of my friends and some bluegrass music from Old Crow Medicine Show.” Make a reservation for Pearl & Ash.

Last Suppers

Ed Scarpone, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Washington, D.C.
“I’d want to cook my own burger because no one really knows how you like your burger. I go for medium rare with a nice redness in the middle. It’s simple. Just nice ground meat, a thick slice of onion, mayo, and aged cheddar cheese on a Martin’s hamburger roll. I’d have it with really good fries – cut bigger, skin on, and double fried, so you get that nice crispy outside and that mashed potato inside. Mayo on the side for dipping, because I despise ketchup. PBR to drink. I love pecan pie, but I’ve been allergic to pecans since I was 14-years-old. But if I’m going to kick it, I’d go for it and have grandma-style pecan pie with graham cracker crust for dessert.” Make a reservation at DBGB Kitchen and Bar.

Last Suppers

Jennifer Carroll, Requin, Fairfax, Virginia
“My last supper would be an all-day affair on a beach on St. John with my fiancée, Billy, my family, and best friends. It would start with breakfast – a Taylor’s pork roll, egg, cheese, and scrapple on a buttered English muffin. This is what I grew up eating, and my dad still makes it for me when I go home. I know – super healthy. I’d be drinking rosé all day – morning, noon, and night. I’d move on to eating mango, pineapple, and papayas. For dinner, there would be simply grilled fish – red snapper or black bass – with lemon, oil, and herbs. And I’d need sides – my mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese with ham, roasted turnips, and pickled beets. For dessert, there would be angel food cake – because I love the simplicity of it – every ice cream in the world, Sour Patch Kids, peanut M&Ms, and chocolate-covered pretzels, along with Fernet and aged dark rum to drink.” Make a reservation at Requin.

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Chef Michael Schlow on His New Restaurant, Peruvian Fusion + Why Boston Is So Beyond Clam Chowder

The savory, crispy chip made from hazelnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano that chef Michael Schlow was toiling to get just right for this month’s opening of his third outpost of Alta Strada in Washington, D.C., may be his very latest culinary triumph. But, in a larger sense, Schlow, a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the Northeast, has helped change the dining profile of what are considered two of the seaboard’s stodgiest cities. With a recent ninth feather in his toque that also includes Latin cuisine at Tico restaurants in D.C. and his adopted hometown of Boston, his newly opened Greek restaurant, Doretta, and a cutting-edge late-night fusion menu, he’s come a long way from cracking eggs as a kid.

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What’s your earliest cooking memory?
My mother allowing me to cook omelets for my brother and sister. She would be at work, and I would “experiment” on them with my cooking, making horrible concoctions and then forcing them to eat the omelets, no matter how gross.

You’re from Brooklyn — and New York is one of the world’s culinary epicenters — why stay based in Boston?
Boston has been home for more than 20 years, and I love living here; we have great friends, a terrific food community, and the city has so many amazing attributes that I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

You obviously witnessed a local culinary evolution of sorts; do you think Bostonians are more adventurous these days?
Bostonians are definitely into their food and their chefs — the days of cod, baked beans, and chowder defining Boston cuisine are over for sure! We have so many diverse and interesting restaurants to choose from now that it’s a world-class food destination with some of the best chefs in the country.

Speaking of diversity, how do you transition to different types of cuisine given the fact that you have Italian, Latin, Greek restaurants … do you have a favorite?
I don’t have a favorite, but if you were to come to our house, I’d probably serve simple Italian food.

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Can you give us a sneak peek of something you may be up to — Peruvian, perhaps?
We are working on a few really fun things right now. I’m excited about the Nikkei late-night menu that’s a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese at Tico Boston. It’s really interesting food and totally cures any late-night cravings. [Served 10PM-1AM Thursday-Saturday, recent offerings include crispy short rib gyoza with panca, toasted onion, and sesame.]Continue Reading

Playing with Fire: Backstage at Smokin’ South American Steakhouse Del Campo with Chef Victor Albisu

Washington, D.C., chef Victor Albisu has accumulated many accolades since opening the doors to Del Campo in 2013, including having his eatery named a Best New Restaurant 2013 by  Esquire, besting Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, and being named Chef of the Year at the 2015 RAMMYS. Go behind the scenes with dining scribe Nevin Martell and photographer Laura Hayes for a delicious look at one of the capital’s hottest — in more ways than one — restaurants. 

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Victor Albisu has always loved fire.

Growing up outside the nation’s capitol in Falls Church, Virginia, he and his Cuban grandfather, Paco, would grill in the dead of winter on a small Weber in the family’s backyard. They kept a cutting board and a knife next to their modest setup so they could slice off pieces of meat as it sizzled over the flames. If they were feeling particularly inspired during warmer months when the ground thawed, they would dig a pit to cook whole pigs or the deer his grandfather hunted.

Albisu got his first taste of kitchen life as a teenager by working at his Peruvian mother’s Latin market and butcher shop. “That’s when I started to fall for char,” he says.

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His passion for cooking kindled, he attended Le Cordon Bleu Paris, followed by a stint at the acclaimed L’Arpege. Returning stateside, he began ascending through the Washington, D.C. dining scene with increasingly statured positions at the Tabard Inn, DC Coast, Ceiba, Marcel’s, Ardeo + Bardeo, before he was appointed the executive chef of BLT Steak. There he began to earn attention, awards, and acclaim. Not only did the First Couple dine at the restaurant, but Michelle Obama became a regular.

During his tenure at the steakhouse, Albisu found himself being continually drawn back to his family’s food and its wider roots. “It’s like I didn’t have a choice,” he says. “The dishes just started coming out of me.”

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His specials began showcasing Latin elements, even as he explored Spanish culinary traditions during his travels. A meal at Asador Etxebarri in Basque country opened his palate to the possibilities presented by cooking with fire in its many forms – grilling, charbroiling, smoking, charring, and torching. He combined those techniques with the idea of a South American grill to create the concept for Del Campo, which he opened in D.C.’s Penn Quarter in the spring of 2013.

In the kitchen, Albisu is a calculated pyro, adding just the right amount of burning, blackening, smoking, and searing to his creations. On a recent March afternoon, he fired up five favorites showcasing his red-hot culinary style. Mackerel ceviche begins with halved lemons face down on the stovetop so they’re seared black. “When you squeeze them, the juice falls through this charred ‘membrane,’” explains Albisu. “It sweetens it, smokes it, and adds this over-caramelized flavor.”

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He smokes oysters by igniting a bed of thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and then combines their juices with lemon juice and crème frâiche to create the dressing that is spooned over slender cut slices of fish. Grilled avocado slices, gold-skinned bits of dry sautéed mackerel, and flash seared pickled Calabrian chilies finish the dish.

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Smoked, Baked + Fried: Stoner Munchies in Pot-Friendly DC, Denver + Seattle for #420Day

April 20th is practically a national holiday for herb enthusiasts. The date – 4/20 – is a reference to 4:20 in the afternoon, the time of day when smokers traditionally spark up. As several states and the District of Columbia move to legalize marijuana, stoners can now puff-puff-pass to their heart’s desire. As anyone who has ever indulged before knows, the practice often awakens the appetite, leading to blissful binges of epic proportions. To give tokers better options than Cheetos, Ho Hos, and DiGiorno, we’ve rounded up the best smoked, baked, and fried stoner munchies in the pot-friendly cities of Washington, D.C., Denver, and Colorado. [Ed. note: One need not partake to appreciate the deliciousness of these dishes.]

Denver

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

Ribs at Russell’s Smokehouse
Funnily enough, the Smokehouse was the nickname for our off-campus duplex during college. But we digress. These generously portioned dry rubbed ribs – your choice of beef, pork, baby back, or a combo – come with three sauces on the side, including a spicy varietal that’s a longtime customer favorite. Don’t forget to ask for plenty of napkins. Make a reservation at Russell’s Smokehouse.

Baked

Stoner Munchies

The Georgio at Pizza Republica
Honestly, if we were only allowed to eat pizza for every meal of the day, we wouldn’t complain. We love ‘za that much. The Georgia is a god amongst men, decked out with rounds of fennel sausage, char-kissed pearl onions, fried garlic, and fresh mozzarella. Just what we crave after a long night of partying – or the morning after. Make a reservation at Pizza Republica.

Fried

Stoner Munchies

Doughnut Sundae at Sugar Mill
Could there be anything greater than a doughnut sundae? Possibly, but who cares? When you’re in the zone digging into a doughnut sundae, nothing else matters. A sweet circle of glazed brioche comes with ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and candied nuts. Not included? A gym membership, which you’ll desperately need after you devour this dainty. Make a reservation at Sugar Mill.

Washington, D.C.

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

S’mores at Bourbon Steak
This haute s’more arrives hidden under a smoke-filled cloche, which the server pulls away to release a hazy cloud. You’re welcome to inhale, but, unfortunately, it has no mind-altering properties. Once the smoke clears, you’ll find marshmallow, toasted marshmallow ice cream, hazelnut graham streusel, and caramel and milk chocolate shards. Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak.

 

Baked

Stoner Munchies

Sticky Toffee Pudding at Convivial
Pastry chef Eva Kronenburg soaks dates in dark rum for a week for the base of this gloriously gluttonous sticky toffee pudding. The molasses sweetened mound is enhanced further with dark raisins and prunes. Served warm, the pudding sits in a pool of rum rich toffee sauce, while a scoop of maple ice cream on top slowly melts down the sides. A perfect meal ender for the stoner with a sweet tooth. Make a reservation at Convivial.

Fried

Stoner Munchies

French Fries at Blue Duck Tavern
It takes a full day to make these substantial sticks, which are definitely not your average French fries. Chef de cuisine Brad Deboy begins by steaming gold potatoes until tender and then mixing them until velveteen. The smooth spuds are set in a pan, cut into logs, dried overnight, and fried until golden brown for service. The Jenga tower of outsized frites comes with a spicy smoked pepper aioli. They sure beat the fries at the McDonald’s drive-through you normally scarf down after a smoke session. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.

Seattle

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

Catfish Deviled Eggs at Sazerac
There are deviled eggs and then there are smoked catfish deviled eggs. The fish is balanced on a peak of whipped yolks, garnished with pickled mustard seeds, and dusted with Spanish smoked paprika. Yes, it’s okay to eat these outrageous oeufs in a single bite. We won’t judge, dude. Make a reservation at Sazerac.

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