Wow, and here he is! His name is Massimo "Max" Mazziotti, and this is bringing back very precious memories to me. When I lived in Laurel, I'd drive to Pasta Plus and meet my parents for dinner, who would be coming from White Oak. Good times, bittersweet thoughts - I'll never forget the time my parents came over to get me at 3 AM because I had an ear infection so painful that I couldn't even drive myself to the hospital. Actually, I *had* forgotten it until just now. I know I've talked about my mom a lot on this forum, but I loved my dad equally as much.
(King's Contrivance is really bad now, btw. That was my first-ever fine dining experience, and I remember very well that my aunt recommended the quiche (an exotic-sounding dish that I'd never heard of before) Click here for a nexus between the past and the present).
A girlfriend and I had dinner in the small dining room up a set of stairs from the entrance at Tersiguel's. Fernand knew me tangentally as a young customer who was in the hospitality industry and appreciative of his restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Chablis from the Les Clos vineyard (producer escapes me) and Fernand stopped by the table. His wife had been battling cancer, and he shared with us their struggles and fear; and that he had built a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his backyard in order to pray for his wife's health daily. The actual details of the conversation have faded over time, but the tone of the conversation, the immense love and devotion coupled with his intense fear and sense of loss, have not.
His son had just taken over the helm of the kitchen, and he was so proud of that, despite his obvious pain. And that entire conversation occurred because of a bottle of wine.
Got to get to Tersiguel's soon, too.
Extending the family-recollections / Howard County-area theme from the Pasta Plus
thread - when I was a young teenager, my dad would take me every Wednesday for a tennis lesson with Larry Krieger at the Columbia Tennis Barn. After the lesson, we'd go to this fancy-dancy French restaurant in downtown Ellicott City and have dinner. In retrospect, it must have been Papillion, or maybe Chez Fernand (which the Tersiguels opened in 1975). Fernand Tersiguel worked at both of these restaurants, so I guess I've had his cooking many times, and I didn't even realize it until just now. (Chef Michel became executive chef at Tersiguel's in 1997, and purchased the restaurant from his parents in 2005.) I remember virtually nothing about the restaurant except that it was fancy, had an upstairs portion, and served a wonderful French onion soup - looking back, I think my dad really enjoyed spending this time with me, and I, with him.
Your story about Fernand and Odette (who, I'm happy to say, appears to be fine
) is very powerful and moving.