It’s a Dead Chef Party

30 10 2009

Doctober is drawing to a close. Thus as Doctoberfest fades, we gather round the pyre one last time as both Halloween and The Day of the Dead arrive.  Halloween, or Samhain which can be traced back to at least to Celtic times, was originally about keeping some distance between the spirits and us. The Day of the Dead, which can be found as far back as the Ancient Maya in Central America, was about welcoming and connecting with the Spirits. Regardless, it seems this time of year is celebrated as a thinning of the veil between worlds. It is especially at this time of the year I like cook with some of my best kitchen mates. They are great chefs, and they happen to be dead. What I like to do is put together a menu featuring the recipes of some great chefs and follow those recipes to the letter. The only prerequisite is that the chef be deceased. You cannot use the recipes or inspiration of any of these current TV celebrity chefs even if it is clear that their palate died long ago. So, if you are planning a Halloween or Day of the Dead soirée it can be great fun to search and plan a Dead Chef Menu. Here’s an example:

Dead Chef Menu

Appetizer: Steak Tartare (James Beard-The James Beard Cookbook)

Main Course: Coq a Vin-Chicken in Red Wine Sauce-(Julia Child-use the recipe in Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, not the Mastering the Art of French Cooking tome)

Dessert: Poires Bell Helene-Poached Pears- (Friedman Paul Erhardt also known as “Chef Tell” and inspiration for The Swedish Chef of Muppet fame; recipe at

Whether you wish to keep the ghost of John Hess (NYT food critic) at bay or banter with the banshees it’s a fun party. From my perspective, personally, I always keep the inspirational spirits close to me when I cook, sometimes I even put the wine in the food.




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