In Theatres Nationwide June 22
Seeking a Chef for the End of the World?

Seeking a Chef for the End of the World?

Melanie Dunea’s delightful series “My Last Supper” –– the two books, My Last Supper and My Last Supper: The Next Course, as well as her website –– raises in a fun and delicious way the same kind of questions that propel Lorene Scafaria’s comedy SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD – what do you do at the end? Reaching out to some of the best chefs in the world, Ms. Dunea asked them to describe their last supper – what they would eat, who would attend, what they would listen to, etc. In addition, she photographed each chef in a way that captures their signature style and personality. Much like Scafaria’s film, Dunea’s “Last Suppers” speak not to the finality, but to the joy of living and to the intense personal pleasure that food creates for each of these chefs. We excerpted five of the chefs here, but more can be found in her original books.

Jamie Oliver

What would be your last meal on earth?
I would have a big pot of spaghetti all’arrabiata made with three types of chilies. It is soft, sweet, and silky—my perfect comfort food. If I were going to have dessert, it would be homemade rice pudding with roasted peaches. The rice pudding would be served very cold and topped with the hot caramelized peaches.

What would be the setting for the meal?
I would be in my house in Essex, cuddled up on the sofa with my missus. There would be some crap on the television, and a fire going. The window would be open just a crack, with the fresh air cooling the back of my neck after all of those hot chilies in the pasta sauce.

What would you drink with your meal?
I would love a bottle of Hoegaarden beer.

Would there be music?
Just the telly, playing in the background

Who would be your dining companions?
My wife, Jools, would be sitting beside me.

Who would prepare the meal?
I would prepare it myself.

 

Jamie Olvier, in addition to his many books and TV shows, is the chef behind Barbecoa, Jamie's Italian (branches UK, Australia and Dubai) and Union Jacks

From My Last Supper

Dan Barber

What would be your last meal on earth?
Rack of Boris, with a salad of ears, wattle, cheeks, etc. If I’m going, so is Boris.

What would be the setting for the meal?
An American pastoral—a large, open field as the sun sets. I’ve always wanted to sit in one of these scenes alone, staring out at the fading light, but it always seemed too precious and corny. But for this, my last dance, I wouldn’t much care what people think.

What would you drink with your meal?
I would have wine, for sure; probably a big amarone in order to go out with a bang.

Would there be music?
Gregorian chants, played very loud, as that’s what my father blasted through the house every Sunday in the late afternoon. The combination of the end of the weekend, homework, and the chants was enough to make me wish for death. I imagine if I heard them again, alongside my last bites, I wouldn’t feel so anxious about moving on…

Who would be your dining companions?
No companions. I'm too long-winded at good-byes.

Who would prepare the meal?
Me. I’d have one final chance to get it right.

 

Dan Barber is the chef of Blue Hill (New York) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York).

From My Last Supper

Barbara Lynch

What would be your last meal on earth?
My last meal will probably sound fairly decadent, but I'm always watching what I eat and trying to be healthy, so this is it, I'm going out with a bang! I would begin with Iranian caviar, and lots of it! This would be followed by terrines of foie gras set out for all of us to help ourselves to, along with mountains of toasted brioche and seasonal fruit gelée. I'd also have squab salad served at this point –– why not, right?

The next course would be sweetbreads with chanterelles; I absolutely love sweetbreads. The first time I saw them was when I was 17 and working as a server at a very exclusive private club Boston's Back Bay. All the other waitresses thought the idea was disgusting, but I'd love seeing them served under a cloche. And when I finally got to taste them, I was hooked. For me, they represent grandeur and decadence… And they are so delicious with gorgeous chanterelles!

Whenever I'm asked what my favorite food is, I usually say, “duck." So for my last meal, it would absolutely have to be a beautiful roasted duck with gloriously crispy skin and all that rich meat. I adore duck, so this was the easiest decision!

After all of this incredibly rich food, I would end with an affogato. When I was visiting chef Marc Vetri in Philly, his kitchen presented us with the most perfect affogato –– strong espresso over sweet, creamy, and intensely vanilla gelato with a dollop of gently whipped cream… a brilliant close to a brilliant meal.

What would be the setting for the meal?
I would probably gather with friends up in Vermont. It's just far enough away to feel like an escape and absolutely beautiful. We would set a long table with crisp white linens, and lovely, heavy silverware, and lots of gorgeous stemware outside of a friend’s old farmhouse in late summer, when the evenings are just starting to get cool. They would be white candles to light as it begins to darken, and it would be the perfect combination of rustic and elegant. I'd want something festive and special but really comfortable so we can all relax and enjoy ourselves.

What would you drink with your meal?
We would drink wine from all my favorite winemakers. We would start with lots of Champagne, what else would we drink with lots of caviar? And we would definitely have Lucien Crochet’s Sancerre Rouge –– one of my favorite –– and for this occasion we would also have one of the incredible Burgundies from Romanée-Conti.

Would there be music?
Absolutely. I think opera would be fitting for the drama and weight of the occasion –– it's romantic, elegant, emotional. We would begin the dinner with that, though I'm sure by the end, my iPhone playlist with make an appearance when we were all sitting around talking, drinking, and laughing.

Who would be your dining companions?
All of my daughter Marchesa’s "aunties," an incredible group of smart, talented, funny, creative women that I've gotten to know over the course of my life. Some I've known for 25 years and some for 5, but they are all amazing. And in addition to becoming great friends, they have also become honorary aunties to my daughter. Marchesa has such great examples of strong women, and they have been inspirational to me!

Who would prepare the meal?
We would all cook together. That would be part of the fun! We often cook now when we get together, and it's so natural to gather in the kitchen. We’d start cooking in the afternoon, and the champagne and caviar would probably come out pretty quickly. Early evening, we’d sit down for the foie gras terrine and spend the rest of the evening relaxing and eating and drinking. Long after dinner is over, we'd stay at the table talking and laughing and, hopefully, would stay up until the sun rises.

 

Barbara Lynch is the chef behind such Boston restaurants as No. 9 Park, The Butcher Shop, B&G Oysters, Niche Catour, Plum Produce, Stir, Drink, Sportello, and Menton.

From My Last Supper: The Next Course

Gary Danko

What would be your last meal on earth?
My last meal on earth would be a staged feast, a sultry and exotic banquet showcasing the finest food the world had to offer. The best of everything would be gathered from the corners of the world and served from tableside carts to lounging guests. Circling around would be caviar atop buckwheat blinis, cooked to order from a caviar cart. A roasted Bleu Bresse, a homegrown version of France’s mythical poulet de Bresse, would be wheeled into the dining room and displayed like a trophy before being carved. Spit-roasted suckling pigs, and black truffles wrapped in thin slices of salt pork, would circle the tables as well. Like Roman and Greek banquets, the food would be eaten by hand—scooped up with the finest breads from around the world. An orgy of food and consumption, this delicious and awesome festival would serve as a respite from human civility.

What would be the setting for the meal?
This Hollywood set of an ancient culture would be somewhere like a lakeside palace in Udaipur, in northwestern India. We’d sail across the lake on gondolas, approaching the palace in the fading light of sunset, disembark, and then set the gondolas adrift into the peaceful water. A sense of the surreal and the glorious would permeate everything. The palace’s rooms — massive tents, really—are grand in scale and would be divided into twenty semicircular alcoves. Each alcove would have a platform bed sheeted in the finest linen and covered with plush pillows. The floors would be carpeted in bold, rich silk, and the walls gilded in gold, royal blue, and rich browns. Jewel-toned silk drapes would flow from the high ceilings to the floor around each alcove. A large pool in the center would serve as the stage for the performances during and between courses by Cirque de Soleil, dancers, and eunuchs. All the guests at the meal would be served in the ancient fashion, while lying down on the spectacular beds.

What would you drink with your meal?
A team of sommeliers would orchestrate the following wines: Champagne, Krug, Krug Collection 1947 Nebuchadnezzar; Riesling Auslese, Schloss Rheinhartshausen, Erbacher Bruhl, Rheingau, Germany, 1949 Rehoboam; Montrachet, Grand Cru, Ramonet, Burgundy, France, 1986 Salmanazar and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Burgundy, France, 1989 Salmanazar; Romanée-Conti, Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Burgundy, France, 1978 and 1985 Salmanazars; Côte-Rôtie, Guigal, La Mouline, and La Landonne, Northern Rhone Valley, France 1978 Methuselahs; Barbaresco, Gaja, Piedmont, Italy, 1985 Salmanazar; Cabernet Sauvignon, Heitz, Martha's Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, 1974, Salmanazar, and Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, California, 1994 Methuselah; Pauillac, Château Latour, Bordeaux, France, 1928 Salmanazar; Saint-Émilion, Château Cheval Blanc, Bordeaux, France, 1947 Balthazar; Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, J. J. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, 1971 Magnum; Vintage Port, Taylor, Duoro Valley, Portugal, 1935 Magnum. [Rehoboam—4.5 liters (6 bottles); Methuselah—6 liters (8 bottles); Salmanazar—9 liters (12 bottles); Balthazar— 12 liters (16 bottles); Nebuchadnezzar—15 liters (20 bottles)]

Would there be music?
Enchanting music would seduce the soul and make the mood very surreal. It would a mixture influenced by Persian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish sounds, and also the softer sounds of meditation and healing, like Rasa Mello II by Donna D’Cruz, for example.

Who would be your dining companions?
Assuming this is all fantasy, the guests, living and deceased, would include: one hundred-plus of my outrageous friends, including my partner, Greg Lopez; Hunt Slonem, a New York artist; John Kennedy Jr. and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Alfred Hitchcock; Madonna (but she would have to be eating meat that night); Princess Grace; Rock Hudson; Audrey Hepburn; Tom Ford; Cher; Maria Manetti Farrow; James Beard; Pablo Picasso; Andy Warhol; Jackson Pollack; Bill Clinton; Martha Stewart; Sharon Stone; Andrew Lloyd Webber; Elton John; Ben Harper; Carlos Santana; Sting; Van Morrison; and Gertrude Stein. Robert Parker and Thomas Jefferson would be invited, as well, because of their love of wine.

Who would prepare the meal?
Each course would be prepared by an expert in their field.

 

Gary Danko is the chef behind the San Francisco restaurant Gary Danko.

From My Last Supper

Ruth Rogers

What would be your last meal on earth?
Tagliatelle with a slow-cooked tomato sauce cooked by Joseph Trivelli. Being married to an Italian, with a large family, I’ve learned that real Italians love tomato sauces. My mother-in-law, Dad Rogers, taught Rose and me to make this, and it is my ultimate recipe.

What would be the setting for the meal?
The River Café.

What would you drink with your mea l ?
Wines from my three closest, gorgeous friends in Chianti: Felsina Chianti Classico form Giuseppe Mazzocolin, Cepparello from Paolo de Marchi, and Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve from Giovanni Manetti. A friend of mine, Joan Buck, once told me that you cold never have a party without margaritas, so I’ll follow her advice and have margaritas as well.

Would there be music?
I grew up in a very liberal, political family in Woodstock, New York. As a child, I learned the songs of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, so this music is still close to my heart. I’d also want to hear the music of Motown. A friend in the music industry once told me that you music you listen to between the ages of 16 and 18 is the music that stays with you for the whole of your life. Mine was definitely Motown, so I would have Martha and the Vandellas singing “Dancing in the Street,” Otis Reading, the Four Tops.

Who would be your dining companions?
All the staff and cheefs at the River Café, and Richard, of course.

Who would prepare the meal?
Sian Wyn Owen.

 

Ruth Rogers is the chef behind London’s River Café.

From My Last Supper: The Next Course

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