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A Chat with RJ Cooper


DonRocks
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I'm happy to announce that the chats are alive and well once again, and beginning tomorrow, Chef RJ Cooper of Vidalia will be "officially" with us for several days (he's often here anyway, but this will give him a chance to really strut his stuff).

A StarChefs bio of RJ can be found here, along with a brief interview.

An article in the Examiner (along with a photo that looks like Michael Douglas in "Falling Down") here.

And perhaps most importantly, the highlight of RJ's career, the 2007! James! Beard! Award! here.

RJ, thanks in advance for joining us - I can't think of a more fitting chef to re-inaugurate our chats here.

Everyone, please feel free to begin asking questions at this point.

Cheers!

Rocks.

P.S. And here's your first question, a softball: What does RJ stand for? I actually have no idea.

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Hi Chef!

This question is purely for selfish reasons. Suppose I were dining in your restaurant this Thursday with my very-pregnant wife. What items on the menu are your current favorites and should not be missed?

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In the roasted Vidalia onion with bacon vinaigrette recipe in with the Examiner article, you include chanterelles in the list of ingredients, but nowhere in the recipe is it discussed whether or how these are cooked. Was that an omission, or are they added at the end uncooked? I am a wild mushroom afficianada, but all of my mushroom books suggest that wild mushrooms always be cooked before eating. I am willing to take the risk, however if you can assure me that chanterelles taste better raw than cooked, and that they are safe to eat that way.

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I met one of your lovely sous chefs, who had mentioned how much she has learned in your kitchen. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about how to educate young (and older) chefs.

Has most of your staff attended culinary school? Is there a "hazing," like cutting veggies for an entire season? Once someone has shown her meddle on a station, do you keep her there or rotate chefs into a position that she might find more daunting or challenging?

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Is there any Asian cuisine inspired you?

Well Grover,

As you have dined many times with us here at Vidalia, our food stays pretty much with our region......Although the simplicty, elegance and discapline of Asian cuisines fall into my every day philosophy of food.

I love to work with fresh raw seafood and meats when they are at there most pristine, simply adding flavors that accentuate their personalities.

It is a question that I am asked often, however, and difficult to answer.

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Hi Chef!

This question is purely for selfish reasons. Suppose I were dining in your restaurant this Thursday with my very-pregnant wife. What items on the menu are your current favorites and should not be missed?

Well Pete, we have just completed a 99% menu change with an overhaul of the shrimp and grits. This menu is one that is extremely laborious for the staff but simple in presentation. We have gone all out in search of products from the region using great local growers, fishmongers, herdsmen and cattlemen to bring to the table for our guests.

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Is there any chef currently operating (DC area or elsewhere) whose work you enjoy in particular?

I belive that the state of DC culinary scene is very well rooted for an extremely long time.

They are all doing a great job and giving inspiration to us all.

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In the roasted Vidalia onion with bacon vinaigrette recipe in with the Examiner article, you include chanterelles in the list of ingredients, but nowhere in the recipe is it discussed whether or how these are cooked. Was that an omission, or are they added at the end uncooked? I am a wild mushroom afficianada, but all of my mushroom books suggest that wild mushrooms always be cooked before eating. I am willing to take the risk, however if you can assure me that chanterelles taste better raw than cooked, and that they are safe to eat that way.

They are to be cooked. I have to look at the recipe they published because my recipe says to add them with the bacon after rendering to extract the earthy flavors.

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I met one of your lovely sous chefs, who had mentioned how much she has learned in your kitchen. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about how to educate young (and older) chefs.

Has most of your staff attended culinary school? Is there a "hazing," like cutting veggies for an entire season? Once someone has shown her meddle on a station, do you keep her there or rotate chefs into a position that she might find more daunting or challenging?

A great question. Chef Buben has taught me the true way to be successful in this business is to have a legacy. If you follow the DC dining scene (which I know you all do) he has one of the greates legacies in this city and country.

When cooks apply for a position my first question is, "Is cooking going to be a lifestyle or a job?" This is truly a lifestyle career where you spend hours with your staff and to teach them all you can to produce these crazy food ideas.

We dont "haze" we leave that for the Academies, but we put our applicants through a process called Stage or Stagier to see if he/she fits into our philosophies on cooking. Our team rotates every menu change, it just ups the bar for us to get everyone cross trained.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Can you share with us a little of the thought behind your wine program? I've been to a number of your tastings and have really enjoyed spending the time with people who are not only knowledgeable but also good teachers. The 2 oz pours help make any night into a tasting. Your lounge has become one of my favorite business happy hour spots when I'm in town because of the ease of transitioning a few snacks and good conversation into a meal because the wine options keep calling to us and we hate to leave.

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It's great to see you here!

I'm wondering what it was like to spend three years cooking in Alaska.

How much could you depend on local foods throughout the year?

I still source thourghout the year from Alaska. Robert Wiedmeir (yes dude I know I still can't spell your name) my friend, motorcycle bud, and one of the best cooks in DC, he and I throw out "I can get this from so and so!" and visa versa.

The beauty of Alaska was that the fishmonger would fly a float plane into the inlet and the fish would still be alive.

The produce was amazing up there. A short growing season but Alaska is a rain forest so the state gets lots of rain - and sun for 20 hours a day helps.

In the winter, FEDEX was a good friend.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Can you share with us a little of the thought behind your wine program? I've been to a number of your tastings and have really enjoyed spending the time with people who are not only knowledgeable but also good teachers. The 2 oz pours help make any night into a tasting. Your lounge has become one of my favorite business happy hour spots when I'm in town because of the ease of transitioning a few snacks and good conversation into a meal because the wine options keep calling to us and we hate to leave.

Doug Mohr has done great things with the program here. His passion shows in the staff and with the pairings we do with food. The program was started with an idea to use the talents of both Doug and Mike to not only educate but to introduce wine to a braoder range of guest at Vidalia and it has blossomed into a vary strong social event.

Their are some "Rockheads" that come in and ask for the "Mini Cooper" - a term that Don started, and then it becomes even a bigger party.

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I belive that the state of DC culinary scene is vary well rooted for an extremely long time.

They are all doing a great job and giving insperation to us all.

I think we are also fortunate that the industry is "healthy" here. On visits to your restaurant and a number of other better D. C. area restaurants over the past several months we have found dining rooms with few empty tables. Last week in South Florida I learned that Norman's recently closed and Mark's South Beach (a Beard winner) had a dining room two thirds empty on Friday night while the Sunfish Grill (considered by many to be Ft. Lauderdale's best restaurant) only had ten customers on Thursday night. It is encouraging that here, even in Summer, chefs play to successful rooms. I think Florida is more than seasonal-it's also a reflection of a softening economy that D. C. has longed seemed to be resistant to. Not only has Washington become one of the most exciting restaurant cities in America but it is also an enduring one where excellence seems to be rewarded.

The near empty rooms were truly distressing last week.

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I think we are also fortunate that the industry is "healthy" here. On visits to your restaurant and a number of other better D. C. area restaurants over the past several months we have found dining rooms with few empty tables. Last week in South Florida I learned that Norman's recently closed and Mark's South Beach (a Beard winner) had a dining room two thirds empty on Friday night while the Sunfish Grill (considered by many to be Ft. Lauderdale's best restaurant) only had ten customers on Thursday night. It is encouraging that here, even in Summer, chefs play to successful rooms. I think Florida is more than seasonal-it's also a reflection of a softening economy that D. C. has longed seemed to be resistant to. Not only has Washington become one of the most exciting restaurant cities in America but it is also an enduring one where excellence seems to be rewarded.

The near empty rooms were truly distressing last week.

We all should feel very fortunate that the economy in the Metro DC area has not slipped as in other parts of the nation. We have an infrastructure that is sound to support our craft .

It is unfortunate that a restaurant like Normans has closed, He is and will be a legend in this country, bringing that riff of the flavors of the islands. So you have to drive to Orlando now to eat his food.

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Hey RJ!!!! Is it true that crack is the secret ingredient of every single item in your breadbasket, especially cornbread? Why else could it be so addictive??

CONGRATULATIONS WITH YOUR AWARD, DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hey RJ!!!! Is it true that crack is the secret ingredient of every single item in your breadbasket, especially cornbread? Why else could it be so addictive??

CONGRATULATIONS WITH YOUR AWARD, DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ty nadia, the bread is addictive at Vidalia, our bakers Nelson Ramerez and Yobana Suarez has been with Chef Buben and Vidalia from when they openned the door. He is extremely talented at crafting the breads as well as producing wonderful pastries with Caitlin.

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RJ,

I think Michael Nevarez must be one of the most unsung restaurant professionals in Washington. He has been Vidalia's GM since the restaurant opened, right? He's genial and dapper, so why doesn't he get more buzz in this town? He was raving about some taqueria out in Chantilly or Manassas (I forget where) - do you remember what it is, and have you been there?

And thanks for doing such a great job so far!

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RJ,

I think Michael Nevarez must be one of the most unsung restaurant professionals in Washington. He has been Vidalia's GM since the restaurant opened, right? He's genial and dapper, so why doesn't he get more buzz in this town? He was raving about some taqueria out in Chantilly or Manassas (I forget where) - do you remember what it is, and have you been there?

And thanks for doing such a great job so far!

The first time I met Mike with Chef when I did my tasting, I saw a man that was so deeply committed to the movement what is Vidalia ( and I say movement because it evolves). He and Chef have been together longer then most marriages. Mike is that great sports GM that knows how to get the right players, put them into the right scheme and make them extremely successful. His knowledge and experience is without question among tops in this country.

If you have ever seen and enjoyed being Mike's guest while eating you know that he is extremely passionate about food. He and Chef have been talking about that taqueria for some time now. He has brought me pupusas and he said when he left there were four and when he hit the door there was one. They are freaking good.

I will find out the name from him and pass it along.

One of the great advatages of this site is the "hole in the wall" restaurants everyone eats at that shows that this area has some deep rooted ethnic foods that are beaming to break out.

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Thank you so much for chatting with us, and for the wonderful work you do at Vidalia. It is truly my favorite restaurant in DC (as it is for my out-of-town parents as well, who always beg for a reservation when they come to visit), and I always leave sublimely happy--you and your staff have never given me anything but a superb experience. Bravo, and keep up the good work!

One of the greatest things about Vidalia is its use of seasonal ingredients. From a culinary (and not a climate) standpoint, what is your favorite season? What are the aspects of that season that most excite and inspire you in the kitchen?

Looking forward to visiting during Restaurant Week next month!

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Thank you so much for chatting with us, and for the wonderful work you do at Vidalia. It is truly my favorite restaurant in DC (as it is for my out-of-town parents as well, who always beg for a reservation when they come to visit), and I always leave sublimely happy--you and your staff have never given me anything but a superb experience. Bravo, and keep up the good work!

One of the greatest things about Vidalia is its use of seasonal ingredients. From a culinary (and not a climate) standpoint, what is your favorite season? What are the aspects of that season that most excite and inspire you in the kitchen?

Looking forward to visiting during Restaurant Week next month!

Seasonally I am biased to all but winter.......because I can get on the motorcycle and get to the farms. There are exciting products thoughout the year. We have a saying that there are not four seasons, there are twelve. The product differs from November to March, April to June etc., and you have to adapt and change with the best product that is out there.

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[The Taqueria is Taqueria La Michoacana, in the former Ben's Whole Hog Barbecue space on Compton Rd just over the border into Prince William County. And it is delicious!]

Of course Jake you would know, you have had some of those pigs ear tacos.

Ben's was an old stomping ground for Mike. A tear still comes to his eyes when he talks about the closing of that pit.

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Chef,

First let me say that I love your restaurant. I started going there during grad school (I had to save up to go there as a special treat!) and have loved it ever since. I have especially appreciated two things--1) that you have for the most part consistently offered a proper vegetarian option, not the steamed veggies or thrown together plate so many places had 10 years ago and still have, and 2) that when my friends and I were in our early 20s and went to Vidalia we were always treated well, we felt welcomed and never felt that we were treated worse than more mature guests.

On recent visits, the service and graciousness of your staff have been as wonderful as ever. However, I was sad to see that the vegetarian option was the blue plate. It's not that the plate isn't good, and I'm sure there was a solid reason behind the change. But for some reason getting a bunch of sides on a plate rather than an entree makes me, as a vegetarian, feel unwanted. I don't know why this is--perhaps it's a carryover from being treated poorly by restaurants in the past, from years of getting steamed veggies or hastily assembled plates of random sides from places that clearly couldn't be bothered to try to make a meatless plate--but I know I am not the only vegetarian that feels this way. And I know that I am going to Vidalia less than before, and when I do go, I feel a teensy bit let down each time. I still very much enjoy my visits, and the blue plate is objectively good, it's just in comparison to past entrees that it suffers.

You mentioned earlier in the chat that you were in the process of changing the menu a bit. If the pilaus or risottos reappeared, I'm sure a number of your vegetarian guests would be thrilled! They were really, really delicious.

I do want to emphasize that I find every other thing about Vidalia delightful. I sincerely thank you and your staff for many years of wonderful dining experiences, and thank you for taking the time to do this chat!

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Chef,

First let me say that I love your restaurant. I started going there during grad school (I had to save up to go there as a special treat!) and have loved it ever since. I have especially appreciated two things--1) that you have for the most part consistently offered a proper vegetarian option, not the steamed veggies or thrown together plate so many places had 10 years ago and still have, and 2) that when my friends and I were in our early 20s and went to Vidalia we were always treated well, we felt welcomed and never felt that we were treated worse than more mature guests.

On recent visits, the service and graciousness of your staff have been as wonderful as ever. However, I was sad to see that the vegetarian option was the blue plate. It's not that the plate isn't good, and I'm sure there was a solid reason behind the change. But for some reason getting a bunch of sides on a plate rather than an entree makes me, as a vegetarian, feel unwanted. I don't know why this is--perhaps it's a carryover from being treated poorly by restaurants in the past, from years of getting steamed veggies or hastily assembled plates of random sides from places that clearly couldn't be bothered to try to make a meatless plate--but I know I am not the only vegetarian that feels this way. And I know that I am going to Vidalia less than before, and when I do go, I feel a teensy bit let down each time. I still very much enjoy my visits, and the blue plate is objectively good, it's just in comparison to past entrees that it suffers.

You mentioned earlier in the chat that you were in the process of changing the menu a bit. If the pilaus or risottos reappeared, I'm sure a number of your vegetarian guests would be thrilled! They were really, really delicious.

I do want to emphasize that I find every other thing about Vidalia delightful. I sincerely thank you and your staff for many years of wonderful dining experiences, and thank you for taking the time to do this chat!

I respect your comments about the blue plate, however each dish in the quadrent is designed centrally around what we have picked up in market. Some days we do offer a small risotto with sweet corn or peas etc., to sweet and sour radishes, mile feuille of roasted shiitakes and brads goat cheese. We try to use the vegetable as a "center of the plate" item much as you would use any protein.

This plate was designed to give vegetarians a wider arrange of flavors to try, rather then a singular dish.

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RJ,

As many have said, thanks for chatting with us! A couple of questions…

Is the type of salt use for a certain dish really that important? Which are your favs and how do you pair them with a dish?

During a recent meal in Philly, which was started by crossing a foie gras protest line, I started to wonder if DC was going to share a similar fate. Any thoughts? Would you cave in if the pressure was great?

Ever give thought to giving some charcuterie classes for the home cook?

Thanks!

Scott

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RJ,

As many have said, thanks for chatting with us! A couple of questions…

Is the type of salt use for a certain dish really that important? Which are your favs and how do you pair them with a dish?

During a recent meal in Philly, which was started by crossing a foie gras protest line, I started to wonder if DC was going to share a similar fate. Any thoughts? Would you cave in if the pressure was great?

Ever give thought to giving some charcuterie classes for the home cook?

Thanks!

Scott

Great question Scott - salts have become more trendy then micro greens......and of course we have many different salts from around the world as well we do our own infusions of salts i.e. juniper and sel gris for pork belly, madagascar vanilla and maldon sea salt for foie gras. We are shaving himalayan rock salt at the table, hawaiian sea salt goes onto our butter for the table, the list goes on and on. We generally cook with kosher it has a great feel in your fingers to season.

I have had endless discussions with my wife about the fate of foie gras.......The firm she is associated with lobbies for the foie gras industry in the US. Of course i can see both sides of the argument have valid points, but we should still be able to serve our guests what the wanty and let him/her make the choice to order it or not.

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What is your ideal dinner for yourself?

Well Schuster, your moving back to a great city that is dear to my heart and the hot dog stand under the L in Lincoln Park was a dinner stop five days a week after service 2 dogs and a beer 3.50 back in the day, it went a long way, my mothers fried chicken and potato salad kicking back with a cold beer, a great bbq pig, EZ know what I mean, and fresh pasta with unpasturized butter, reggiano and white truffles, all to finish with Caitlins peanut butter crunch.

Also, favorite grateful dead show?

Dude trippy, there are so many, when we rode to Sturgis last year I started in 69 and when we arrived I was at 76 and when we made it home I think its was 91. But the best show was the last show I saw in Chicago before leaving to Atlanta,

Have a great move!!!!!!!!!

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Dude trippy, there are so many, when we rode to Sturgis last year I started in 69 and we arrived I was at 76 and when we made it home I think its was 91. But the best show was the last show I saw in Chicago before leaving to Atlanta,

Have a great move!!!!!!!!!

Also when I get off the plane in Detroit I head to the Lafayette Coney Island then to Greens hamburgers then to Grandmas and she always says "I'm still third on your list of stops!!!!! when you get into town."

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Hi - I was wondering where you get your ideas for new dishes? Are there any menu items that have surprised you with how popular they were with diners? Or, on the other hand, any that you thought would be more popular than they were?

Thanks very much!

There are so many places, what's available at the markets, fish mongers who call you at 3 am saying they just got the most beautiful fish, the farmers coops now have a centralized delivery service and the meats are so fresh and tasty that its hard not to change from what you would buy in the local grocery store. My staff both front and back give great feedback on the thoughts of the guests.

I have a weekly menu meeting with Caitlin about pastry ideas, my sous chefs Harper, Bull and Anne, I will come up with some wacky ideas and they will help to bring them to life. Chef Buben is a great foundation to bounce food ideas off of, then I talk to Mike, Doug and Khoa in the front to see if the ideas will work in there.

TEAM EFFORT is what we live by here.

Your next question is one that is frequently asked: On the menu we just started I have been surprised by the popularity of some dishes: Octopus salad, the baby lamb, the skate.

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On recent visits, the service and graciousness of your staff have been as wonderful as ever. However, I was sad to see that the vegetarian option was the blue plate....You mentioned earlier in the chat that you were in the process of changing the menu a bit. If the pilaus or risottos reappeared, I'm sure a number of your vegetarian guests would be thrilled! They were really, really delicious.
I respect your comments about the blue plate, however each dish in the quadrent is designed centrally around what we have picked up in market. Some days we do offer a small risotto with sweet corn or peas etc., to sweet and sour radishes, mile feuille of roasted shiitakes and brads goat cheese. We try to use the vegetable as a "center of the plate" item much as you would use any protein.

This plate was designed to give vegetarians a wider arrange of flavors to try, rather then a singular dish.

The graciousness of this exchange is heartening. As someone whose vegetarianism lasted all of three months decades ago, I am more sympathetic than empathetic in reading about Sandy's dilemma. I have first-hand knowledge of Chef Cooper's dedication to local farms and respect the idea that a menu should reflect his vision and draw in potential diners accordingly. The stress on local, seasonal food is certainly attractive to vegetarians who eat wisely and well.

Having lived for many years close to Detroit among the throngs of vegetarians who trod the streets of Ann Arbor in Birkenstocks, I would like to add one further comment to this exchange. Vegetarians need protein as much as omnivores do and I've seen too many who don't get enough. Adding a pork-free side dish of Spring Valley Farm's fresh shelling beans in the fall would be a welcome touch. During summer months, a lentil salad, light purée of a different legume or savory eggy custard might fill in the gap, and in the colder months, a hearty, bean-rich soup, baked beans...

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The graciousness of this exchange is heartening. As someone whose vegetarianism lasted all of three months decades ago, I am more sympathetic than empathetic in reading about Sandy's dilemma. I have first-hand knowledge of Chef Cooper's dedication to local farms and respect the idea that a menu should reflect his vision and draw in potential diners accordingly. The stress on local, seasonal food is certainly attractive to vegetarians who eat wisely and well.

Having lived for many years close to Detroit among the throngs of vegetarians who trod the streets of Ann Arbor in Birkenstocks, I would like to add one further comment to this exchange. Vegetarians need protein as much as omnivores do and I've seen too many who don't get enough. Adding a pork-free side dish of Spring Valley Farm's fresh shelling beans in the fall would be a welcome touch. During summer months, a lentil salad, light purée of a different legume or savory eggy custard might fill in the gap, and in the colder months, a hearty, bean-rich soup, baked beans...

My sous chef Harper's fiancee is a vegan and as much as it "pains" chefs to cook for vegans, we find it an extremely educational exchange of thoughts and ideas to deliver to vegetarians.

The process to chose and to marry contrasting and familiar flavors in the vegetable world is much harder than it is to say lamb and mint, pork and apples, beef and potatoes. Socially we have to adapt to the seasons' great vegetables and learn the proper methods and techinques to extract their characteristic flavors.

All our moms said eat your vegetables, and there is a reason why.

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RJ, thanks so much for doing this. You've been very gracious with your time and its been a lot of fun to follow.

What foods to you tend to eat when you are home? What do you and your staff eat at Vidalia? Are there meals you serve in the kitchen that don't make it into the dining room? Are there any dishes that you would like to prepare that you are unable to do at Vidalia?

Thanks again - and thanks to Don for reviving these chats!

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RJ, thanks so much for doing this. You've been very gracious with your time and its been a lot of fun to follow.

What foods to you tend to eat when you are home? What do you and your staff eat at Vidalia? Are there meals you serve in the kitchen that don't make it into the dining room? Are there any dishes that you would like to prepare that you are unable to do at Vidalia?

Thanks again - and thanks to Don for reviving these chats!

Great food and wine night tonight, great people and a lot of locals - ty for your support.

On to your questions, My wife and I have identical twin girls at home that are 10 months old and trying to cook is like wrestling calves at a rodeo.....When I am cooking I keep it simple, last menu bibb lettuce from the market with corn, beets, vidalia onions, warm bacon (yes have to have pig) apple vinaigtette. Fresh pasta and clam sauce, strawberries with vanilla-creme fraiche and 50 yr old balsamico.

Staff meal varies from day to day: pb&j (a staff fav!!!!!!! right Dougie?), macaroni bakes, chicken wings, we tend to use bi-productss to make ragouts etc.

The staff eats well and we do tend on a miss order to feed the managers.

Chef Buben has a open mind - anything goes!!!!!!! If it doesnt work, feature it!!!!!!

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When I am cooking I keep it simple, last menu bibb lettuce from the market with corn, beets, vidalia onions, warm bacon (yes have to have pig) apple vinaigtette. Fresh pasta and clam sauce, strawberries with vanilla-creme fraiche and 50 yr old balsamico.

I'm calling bullshit on this, RJ. Dollars-to-doughnuts says you got midnight carryout from Ben's Chili Bowl. Fess up.

Fresh pasta, indeed. No way!

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RJ,

Re: salt, last year on a visit to St. Emilion, I tasted wine at Chateau Belair. Pascal Delbeck, the proprietor and winemaker, has a small cottage business producing wine flavored salts: merlot, syrah and cabernet. They were coarse grain sea salts. I tried it on a home cooked steak and it was awesome.

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I'm calling bullshit on this, RJ. Dollars-to-doughnuts says you got midnight carryout from Ben's Chili Bowl. Fess up.

Fresh pasta, indeed. No way!

Rocks I will give you a dozen donuts, i ate nothing last night and since i have moved into the burbs, i have to cook at home now

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First, thank you for a wonderful meal last night as my husband (Pete) and I were celebrating our anniversary. And as luck would have it we were graced with your presence and able to exchange a few words even though you were really visiting the table next to us. Everything was wonderful from the service to the food. I only wish I could have enjoyed the tasting menu, a cheese course and/or some wine pairings but unfortunately for me this baby growing inside hasn't left much room for my stomach.

Question - the vanilla braised endive with the rabbit entree was fantastic...any chance you might share a recipe? I've never had endive prepared in this way and I'm intrigued to try it myself.

Thanks!

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First, thank you for a wonderful meal last night as my husband (Pete) and I were celebrating our anniversary. And as luck would have it we were graced with your presence and able to exchange a few words even though you were really visiting the table next to us. Everything was wonderful from the service to the food. I only wish I could have enjoyed the tasting menu, a cheese course and/or some wine pairings but unfortunately for me this baby growing inside hasn't left much room for my stomach.

Question - the vanilla braised endive with the rabbit entree was fantastic...any chance you might share a recipe? I've never had endive prepared in this way and I'm intrigued to try it myself.

Thanks!

Thank you and congratulations on your upcoming son.

The endive is quite simplei n preparation: split the endive in half with the core still attached. In a heavy bottom pan add some butter, honey, scraped vanilla bean, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, and chicken stock just to cover the endives, bring to a moderate boil and place into a 400 degree oven, braise for 30 minutes. Remove the endives and reduce the liquid to glaze the endive when plating.

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Thank you and congradulations on your upcoming son.

The endive is quite simple n preperation: split the endive in half with the core still attached. In a heavy bottom pan add some butter, honey, scraped vanilla bean, thyme bay leaf, rosemary and chicken stock just to cover the endives, bring to a moderate boil and place into a 400 degree oven, braise for 30 minutes. Remove the endives and Reduce the liquid to glaze the endive when plating.

Oh I forgot, add a touch of lemon juice and always season with salt and pepper

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We all should feel very fortunate that the economy in the Metro DC area has not slipped as in other parts of the nation. We have an infrastructure that is sound to support our craft .

It is unfortunate that a restaurant like Normans has closed, He is and will be a legend in this country, bringing that riff of the flavors of the islands. So you have to drive to Orlando now to eat his food.

http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=2...id=a4qa.rYTWyYA is the link to an interesting comment on the economy in South Florida and our recent experiences in better restaurants there.

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