Dining In 2015

Page 45

My Lunch with


Georges Perrier by Maria Merlino

was ecstatic when I spotted Philadelphia’s most famous chef, Georges Perrier, at the Vendemmia last October. He was kicking back, smoking a cigar. Content. A few friends surrounded him and a pretty young lady leaned on his shoulder. I walked up to him and gushed, ‘Georges Perrier! May I take your photo?’ That got us talking about the event. ‘How do you like the Vendemmia?’ I started. “Oh very much!” he exclaimed. “There is nothing like this in France.” ‘Is this your first time, here?’ I continued. “Yes. I was invited by the owner of Fond.” Of course I had to know. ‘How do you like our homemade wines?’ A smile appeared on his face. “The wine is very good. It’s the right wine for the right time. Timing is everything.” We made plans to meet for lunch at The Sansom Street Oyster House. I was early. He was late. Looking out the window, I watched a figure approach wearing a charcoal topcoat and a gray fedora. A film noir star, I thought to myself. Everyone at the Oyster House knew

Georges. We sat at the bar and he ordered for both of us. Manhattan Clam Chowder, a half-dozen little necks and a half-dozen oysters. The place is crowded. “I come here every day,” he confesses. As far as his retirement from the restaurant business, “I hate it.” But grass doesn’t grow under Perrier’s feet. He snagged a consulting job with a restaurant/casino owner in Macau, just off the Southern coast of China. For a good part of January 2015, he will be there. Perrier is excited about a new grandchild on the way. And he loves taking walks with Isabelle, a Bichon Frise. He opened up to me about the sadness in his life. He misses his beloved brother Bernard, who “died too young.” And he misses his mother who died only a few years ago at the age of 103. He shares a story of his childhood. “During WWII, she suffered. My mother, she was a Jew and the Nazis were rounding up Jews.” His father, a jeweler, took his family to a house in the forest where they hid. “It was very difficult times,” he

remembers. “I miss my mother very much and my brother, so much.” French cuisine was a twinkle in Philadelphia’s eye when Perrier arrived in Philadelphia in the mid-Sixties. When it comes to his skills as a saucier, Perrier is a genius. A natural food scientist. “I don’t make béchamel or use any cream. I do stock reductions,” Perrier explains. “I know when the molecules are right.” Lunch was delicious. Before I left, I had one last question. What advice do you have for the home cook? “Use the recipes of your mother and grandmother. You know them. Perfect them.” prh


Galette de Crabe

{Crab Cakes}

Ingredients ➜1 bunch scallions ➜ 1 teaspoon butter ➜ 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat ➜ 14 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined ➜ 2 eggs

➜1 pint heavy cream ➜ 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard ➜ 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce ➜ 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions Cross cut the green part of the scallion 1/8-inch thick and sweat in 1 teaspoon butter. Mix together with picked crabmeat. Set aside. Put shrimp in very cold bowl of food processor. Process on high speed for 1 minute. Add eggs and process on high speed until mixture is smooth and shiny (approximately 2 minutes). Keep shrimp mixture in bowl and put into freezer to re-chill. Return bowl to machine

and slowly add heavy cream while machine is running. Scrape sides of bowl. Process one more time to make sure the cream is incorporated. Add mustard, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire to the mousse, and then fold into crabmeat and scallions. To Cook: Saute 1/2 cup portions in oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Cook approximately 2 minutes on each side. Makes 10 crab cakes.

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