My Days with Chef Paul Prudhomme

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They are probably the two professional compliments that I treasure the most in my life – and both came from Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, who passed away in New Orleans today at age 75.

One was that he always claimed to be the one who told me I should write about food. “You be good to food and food’ll be good to you,” he quoted himself. Though I didn’t remember the encounter, I’m honored he thought I was worth claiming. The second was that he’d long considered the hour-long interview I did with him for my own EasyFood magazine in New Orleans the best article ever written about him. Sure, he must have known I’m a sucker for a pretty compliment, but that one has inspired me every day ever since.

I certainly wasn’t afraid of talking with him, since Paul Prudhomme could and would talk with anybody. It’s one of the things that made him a celebrity, in real life, in cookbooks and especially on his by-our-standards primitive Cajun cooking series. On another occasion, when I went to a taping at the PBS station in Baton Rouge, I was impressed that he kept a chair in which to take naps between recipe segments, while the set and cameras were being organized. To this day, I’m jealous of any nap taken by anybody anywhere.

But on this day, we talked about everything – include his “Fork in the Road” project that took him away from cooking Louisiana foods laden with butter and oil, about his years of anger at European chefs who prevented Americans from getting ahead, about how he learned that cooking for women equaled instant seduction (I was too married to do anything about it, but I took note. Hint: Apparently it only works if you cook like Paul Prudhomme) and even about early run-ins with the law I’d heard about from a friend from a small Cajun village near Paul’s. But then, gulping a bit, I risked being Ted Baxter and essentially asked him “how it felt” to lose his wife Kay (the “K in K-Paul’s) only months earlier at much too young an age, as though any age were not too young.

“I’ve always been a scattered person,” he said, walking around the question until he found a doorway inside, “never satisfied and always reaching for something else, whether it was a new dish of food or a new business. Kay wasn’t that way. Kay was in love with this restaurant. This was her restaurant in the sense that she would not allow it to change. She was in control, and I liked it that way. I would say jokingly, but I really meant it, that I cooked for her and created for her. As long as it satisfied her, we knew it was in the customer’s direction. Now that’s gone, and that’s a huge void for me.

“It doesn’t mean I want to give up the restaurant. It’s a huge part of my life, and it was the beginning of everything that’s happened to me in the last fifteen years. But I miss having that real solid connection, through her. Now if I want to have that connection, I have to spend every day, hours and hours here, to get the same I’d get from her in five minutes.” When Paul slowed down I asked him about his smile, the one that brightens any retail space from the cover of any of his cookbooks. Was it difficult to make that smile happen, I asked, to get it right, after Kay’s death? “It was relatively easy, because she would have wanted me to go on and do what I’m doing and have fun. That’s a fact. I knew what she wanted to leave behind and I knew what she wanted me to do after she left. She would want me to do it the best that I could. When I had to be on, it was easy, because I could be on for her.”

Aug. 22 Show: Hickory, Thanisch Wines

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We’re in Plano north of Dallas this week, celebrating the opening of a new, casual, fun and oh-so-flavorful concept by celebrity chef Kent Rathbun. The place is called Hickory, but it’s about a whole lot more than tried-and-true Texas barbecue. In our Grape & Grain segment, we taste and talk about the wines of Thanisch, made in the Mosel Valley of Germany for more than 350 years.

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

Aug. 15 Show: BCN Houston, Ara Wines

BCN-Taste-Tradition

In Houston this week, we visit one of the most exciting developments in the cuisine of Spain to grace these shores in quite some time – a place called BCN Taste and Tradition. If you’re a frequent flyer, you might know BCN as the airport code of Barcelona. If not, you’ll soon know that BCN is glorious. In our Grape and Grain segment, we taste and talk about the New Zealand wines of Ara.

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

Aug. 8 Show: Big Flavors from Irving

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We’re in Irving this week, sampling the sights, sounds and especially tastes of a community that’s become such a major part of the DFW area. Some of the reason for that, of course, is the posh Las Colinas resort area, where we enjoy our Grape & Grain tasting of wine, cocktails and food with the gang at the Omni Resort. But we also grab up local favorites at places called Big State and Po’ Melvins.

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

Aug. 1 Show: Ruth’s Chris, Longboard Wines

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Ruth’s Chris, one of this country’s formative prime steakhouses, recently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in New Orleans with a special gala dinner. Since we were there, we decided it was high time for a chat with a top regional executive and a chef who long ago worked with Ruth Fertel herself. In our Grape & Grain segment, we taste and talk about the wines of Longboard Vineyards with the man who makes them, who also happens to be an Israeli surfer named Oded. Imagine, finding a guy like that… in California!

If you’re in Austin Saturday August 1, do stop by Metier Cook’s Supply on South Lamar for a chance to purchase signed copies of The Delicious Mischief Cookbook. We will be there signing while serving light bites and beers by Abita.

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

July 25 Show: Gulf Coast Food, Cru Wines

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We step out of the kitchen this week – just long enough to talk with two principals behind a new magazine about the food, drink, history and culture of Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast. The magazine is called – Sugar and Rice. And in our Grape & Grain segment, we taste and talk about the artisan-style California wines of Cru with winemaker Ken Post.

http://media.talkradio1370am.com/a/107705011/delicious-mischief-podcast-7-25-15.htm?

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

July 18 Show: San Antonio’s Culinaria Festival

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We’re in San Antonio this week, covering the recent wine and food extravaganza called Culinaria. Along the way,  we enjoy some enlightening conversations with talented chefs and one of the city’s most esteemed mixologists.

http://media.talkradio1370am.com/a/107509495/delicious-mischief-podcast-7-18-15.htm?

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

July 11 Show: New LK in ATX, Villa Trasqua

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This week we pay a flavorful visit with two chefs at the new Liberty Kitchen in downtown Austin, the popular restaurant’s first adventure outside of Houston. And needless to say, opening in Austin is synonymous with leaving everybody’s comfort zone behind. In our Grape & Grain segment, we taste and talk about the lovely Italian wines Villa Trasqua is making in the legendary Chianti region of Tuscany.

http://media.talkradio1370am.com/a/107347848/delicious-mischief-podcast-7-12-15.htm?

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

July 4 Show: The Ranch, Michael David

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It’s big, it’s loud, it’s full of energy – a lot like Texas. That’s why the guys behind one restaurant in Irving (with a surprisingly sophisticated wine list) call their place The Ranch. We settle in for a lively tasting with one of the owners and the executive chef. And in our Grape & Grain segment, we enjoy several full glasses with winemaker Jeff Farthing of Michael David in Lodi, California.

http://media.talkradio1370am.com/a/107190267/delicious-mischief-7-4-15.htm?

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!

June 27 Show: Mama Fu’s, Mumm Napa

mama fus

In Austin, there’s a fresh, fun brand of Asian food making the rounds – and as lovers of such tastes ourselves, we couldn’t wait to give it a try. The place is called Mama Fu’s, and we sit down for a radio tasting with the chef who’s had a lot to do with spiffing up the recipes. In our Grape & Grain segment, we go looking for bubbles in California. Then again, the fact that we’re tasting and talking with the winemaker from a winery called Mumm Napa should be enough to convince us we’re on the right track.

http://media.talkradio1370am.com/a/106953019/delicious-mischief-podcast-6-27-15.htm?

SAN ANTONIO Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., News Talk 930 KLUP

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF 

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Our 25th Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It!