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Celeb Chef Michel Richard Gets Salty Over Condiments

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Celeb Chef Michel Richard Gets Salty Over Condiments

Janet Donovan

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Renown chef Michel Richard dished on his condiment consternation last night.

The France-born owner of Citronelle was preparing a meal in the Georgetown home of developer Herb Miller and his wife, Patrice, as part of the nonprofit D.C. Central Kitchen-sponsored Sunday Night Supper series.

As one of a number of celebrity chefs who donated their culinary talent to serve up dinner in 15 of the most prestigious homes in Washington, Richard said he had one request: Don't pass the salt. 

"Just taste the food first," he said. "If it isn't salty enough then add salt, but don't hand me the plate and say it isn't salty enough."

And don't even think of mentioning pepper.

"Some chefs don't even use pepper," he said in an accent so thick it took four tries to recognize he didn't mean 'paper.'

"There is no salt or pepper on my tables," he said.

Richard said he does not subscribe to the Julia Child school of thought in which food dropped on the floor is still salvageable.

“No, we don’t do that,” he said, emphatically. “Julia Child got away with that because she was Julia Child. As for me, I have to throw it in the trash.” 

Richard also insisted he's not French, but American.

"I just serve food with a French accent," he joked.

On the menu: Peanut and chestnut soup with fois gras and chicken stock.

Across town at the Kalorama home of Joan Fabry and Michael Klein, chef Julian Medina of Toloache in New York said he gave up the salt fight five years after emigrating from Mexico. A good thing too, considering a large box of Kosher salt held a prominent position on the counter. 

“It bothered me when I was young," Medina said. "It freaked me out, but now I realize that everyone has a different palate. I don’t put salt or pepper on any of my tables in my restaurant though.”  

Joan didn’t seem to mind turning her kitchen over to Julian. 

“It’s fun,” she said, while waiting for political consultant and commentator Barbara Comstock to arrive. 

On the menu:  Margaritas with kumquats for starters.

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