photos by Robert Bostick
Just recently we had the pleasure to spend an entire morning with one of the areas best chefs and a true gentleman, Andre Bedouret. He is known for his work at the Milestone Culinary Arts Center where he teaches students and chefs alike and over the years has become a wonderful friend who always takes a few moments to spin a great story or share his latest kitchen exploit.
The morning we saw chef Andre he was at the Milestone that was bustling with great activity. Sharon Van Meter was on television making barbecue ribs, a platoon of chefs were in the main kitchen preparing for several dinner parties they were to cater later that day, and Andre was busily prepping for what must be one of his greatest talents, charcuterie.
For the initiated, charcurterie is the art of preparing bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, pâtés, and confit, typically from pork. The charcuterie could be made using whole muscle or delectably seasoned forcemeat. There are also forms of fresh made, or long cured meats that hang in a cool ventilated area. These are the coveted products of the kitchen that are fast becoming in vogue again, sought out in finer kitchens.
In our area there are some fine examples of charcuterie. We spoke yesterday about the diligent work that chef Brian Luscher does with his charcuterie program at The Grape. Chef Scott Romano has a great program at Charlie Palmers at the Joule where his staff always has available 10 to 15 varieties available, if not more. Craft at the W makes wonderful products as well. Brian Luscher is always quick to point out the fine work at Kuby’s.
This day chef Andre had his components laid out and ready for me to watch, and he was working with a combination of pork and venison. The pork would fortify the venison as most of the charcuterie recipes need plenty of back fat, along with the variety of seasoning that today included juniper berries, salt, pepper and plenty of garlic.
For those unfamiliar with Andre, he has an outrageous yet pleasant French accent without all the typical French chef hostilities. He reminds me of the happy uncle that always has the silver dollar, but his silver is cured for 7 to 8 weeks and goes so well with cheese and crackers.
Andre came from severely humble beginnings in the Pyrenees of southwest France working as an unpaid apprentice at the Auberge du Panache Blanc after his father passed away. The year was 1960 and the thirteen year old would forgo much of his childhood working a series of restaurants that eventually brought him to the United States via the Bahamas where he sought the promise of wealthier times, crisp beaches and beautiful women.
“When I arrived in the United States I didn’t kiss the ground, not that I didn’t want to but I was scared shitless,” smiled the chef.
He then roamed to a variety of hotels and restaurants across the country, always coming back to Dallas where he eventually helped open Lavendou with fellow Frenchman Pascal Cayet. “I brought him the soufflé. It was not uncommon to make 60 or 70 of them a night,” bragged Andre.
The morning progressed and the chef worked quickly with the venison. The labor seemed effortless as he chatted and ground meats through a floor-length mixer. Andre is full of wise statements about life, cooking and friendships, “There is nothing better than family who loves you for what you are, asking nothing from you but for you to be yourself. That is what life is all about,” waxed the chef as he placed the ground meat into his sausage stuffer.
We all smiled and looked at each other as he quickly sent the forcemeat into the sausage casing. It was art in the making and this was his canvas. Some of the sausages were to be used as fresh examples and could be poached or sautéed and used the next day. Others the chef made that day would need to wait the 8 weeks before we could devour them.
Chef Andre is devoted to helping develop talent in the culinary field. He is an active member of the American Culinary Federation, the Chaine des Rotisseurs and the World Master Chefs Society. He has advised and judged culinary competitions in the USA, Canada, England and Sweden.
You can speak to our favorite Frenchman by selecting one of his upcoming charcuterie, French basics, sauces and other classes that are offered at the Milestone Culinary Arts Center and The Viking Cooking School.
If you are ever near the center on McKinney next to Kent Rathbun’s Abacus, stop in and ask for a taste.Milestone Culinary Arts Center 4531 McKinney Ave, Dallas (214) 217-2807