Measure Of A Good Chef

How do you measure a good chef?  A good chef like Paul Prudhomme ( 1940-2015) is constantly tasting at various stages of preparation.  Paul is one of my favorite chefs of all time. A consummate chef.  When asked to write down his recipes, Paul had to make an educated guess to conform to classical measurements (since he never measured anything). Paul called it ” Best guess” and, “When you taste it, that’s when you know if you have to add a little more of this or that.”  I can hear him now.

At K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans, Paul was not always in the kitchen after his popularity soared and demanding TV appearances were eating up his time. I am happy to say, I did have a meal when Paul was cooking up some spicy Louisiana dish in his restaurant. What luck!  S-o-o-o good! There is truly a difference!

Before food network (1993), I watched an episode of the magic man himself. Paul, made a peach pie. I taped it on my VHS player. But alas, I no longer have it. As the adage goes – the memory is still alive. He was so entertaining; listening to Paul talk about food with his soft, New Orleans accent. Today, when I make peach pie, I always think of Paul Prudhomme for a brief moment!

Seasoned Pie Dough /Crust

My Recommendation: The BEST Pie Crust: Half butter and half shortening. (They always win at the county fair!)

CHEFS ~ Measure ‘To Taste’

Measure To Taste.

Blackened Redfish Debut 1980

After 3 failed restaurants, Paul went to Denver and managed a restaurant that stayed afloat. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Paul came back home to New Orleans. One of the first things Paul did was joined the Commander’s Palace as a lunch chef and became their head chef the following week! Soon after, Paul introduced his spicy Cajun cooking. It started when Paul’s Cajun popcorn turned up on their menu! Paul left Commander’s Palace to pursue his dreams once more and opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen with his signature dish ~ Blackened Red Fish. After opening, to a packed restaurant, the lineups began on the 2nd week. The magic man put New Orleans cuisine on the culinary map and became a household name. You may have guessed that there was a shortage of red fish..in the area for a short while. Unbelievable! Paul truly brought spice to America for the first time..in a big way! Now, we cant live without turmeric, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Some time later, Paul packaged his signature spice blend. You can still buy his signature spices online – or make it yourself. (see recipe below)

Blackened Seasoning Spice – by Paul Prudhomme

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (or less) cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Mix together and add cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp at a time. REMEMBER: After you measure out the spices, etc., taste and adjust accordingly. [Taste on a piece of buttered bread]. Store in a tightly lidded jar in a cool, dark cupboard.

TIP: My friend made this and said it was okay. Remember: Everything has to be fresh: even garlic and onion powder. I would maybe add smoked paprika. I would use red pepper flakes instead of cayenne pepper. ( I do not live near a cayenne pepper farm–like Paul P. did in Louisiana. It’s not the same. Also, dry your own thyme and oregano leaves before grinding. Grow your own herbs. Store all spices in a glass jar with a tight lid and a dark cupboard. Or, just buy Paul’s spice blend!

Fresh Is Best

Buy peppercorns, course salt, even onion flakes to grind. Fresh spices are the best choice. Some herbs like dill or parsley will keep longer in the freezer (stored in ice cube trays).

Paul Prudhomme outside of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Chef Paul Prudhomme had already built his reputation as the executive chef at Commander’s Palace . After he left Commander’s Palace, Kay and Paul Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street in 1979, and soon drew local popularity followed by national acclaim as the Spiciest Chef in Louisiana!

Kay Pruhomme
Portrait of Paul Prudhomme and Kay hanging inside K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition predicts that 85% of the country’s independent restaurants will close by 2021 due to financial strains caused by COVID-19.

K-Paul’s is one of the many beloved restaurants around the country to recently announce its closure due to COVID-19. This weekend, New York City diner Odessa announced it would be closing after 26 years in the East Village, citing a significant loss of business over the past few months. Other high-profile closures have included McCrady’s in Charleston, Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City, and Blackbird in Chicago, among thousands of other restaurants that haven’t made the news.

K-Paul Closes Its Doors May 2020

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen closed in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will not reopen, says chef Paul Miller and Brenda Prudhomme ( a niece of Paul Prudhomme). Latest bulletin: the building is now up for sale.

Chef Paul Prudhomme and his then wife Kay Hinrichs Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street in 1979, a landmark in culinary history. A bygone era that will be missed!

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