If you wondered why ears were burning on May 11, many Dames from around the country were being mentioned by the 13 Book Clubbers who met at Bistronomic to discuss Anne Willan’s One Soufflé at a Time. From Abby Mandel to Dames from Boston , Dallas, South Carolina and Atlanta, many received their inspiration and training at Anne Willian’s La Varenne Cooking School. Our very own Book Club member, Diane Sokolofski spent a day in the Paris school while her husband, Ed, was in a business meeting. The book’s index contains a Who’s Who in the culinary world. Many Dames at the table shared a story or two about meeting and working with Anne at IACP on special committees and the board.
We reminisced about first trips to Paris and what aspects of France surprised us the most. The conversation centered around how everyone ended up in the culinary/wine world. None of us were so lucky to work at Versailles as Anne did, but our Dames still became culinary teachers and leaders in their chosen field. Anne and her husband Mark were quite social and entertained diplomats, lawyers, judges, authors, food critics and most lovingly their family.
Judith posed the question to find out our “go to” meals if we want a no-fail dinner party. The choices ranged from Chicken Marbella, Oxtail Stew, Moroccan Chicken to elaborate table settings. The group expressed their preference for Classic French versus Nouvelle Cuisine and then the discussion drifted to which cuisine required the freshest ingredients and why.
Feeding the discussion was a three-course meal—a refreshing Arugula Salad and a second course of Homemade Linguini with a Confit of Peppers, Heirloom Tomatoes and Capriole Goat Cheese. In homage to the book title, Chef Martial Noguier cleverly produced 13 Chocolate Soufflés all at once using an unconventional oven and baking method. The finale was Chef Martial’s personal story about his career path and his son’s ambition to be a chef. Martial tried to dissuade his son from entering the business because of the long hours, weekend and holiday work and missing family time. In spite of the warning, his son left school, found an internship in France and is now doing a wonderful job working with his father at the restaurant. Judith shared some personal vignettes about Martial’s thoughtfulness and sincerity. No doubt many of us will continue to support Bistronomic and plan to return often.
Thanks to Judith Hines for picking the perfect book to stimulate our conversation. We toasted Catherine Koelling Deevy on her recent marriage and for having perfect attendance at all the book club meetings. We are looking forward to our next meeting when Dame Judith Fertig from the Kansas City Chapter will join us in late July for a discussion about her first novel, The Cake Therapist, which is due out in June.