Grilled In a Minute: John Besh
Julie Mautner / April 16th, 2012
John Besh is a chef and native son dedicated to the culinary riches of Southern Louisiana. At each of his nine restaurants (August, Besh Steak, Lüke, Lüke San Antonio, La Provence, American Sector, Soda Shop, Domenica, and Borgne), he celebrates the bounty and traditions of the region. He opened his first restaurant outside his home state, Lüke San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas), in November 2010. Besh is the author of two cookbooks, My New Orleans (October 2009) and My Family Table (November 2011). He hosts Chef John Besh’s New Orleans, a cooking show on PBS, and is now embarking on a second series: Chef John Besh's Family Table. A former U.S. Marine, Besh is Food Arts Silver Spoon Award winner and The James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast awardee. He’s a frequent guest on the Today show and has appeared on Food Network and the Sundance Channel. Besh lives in Slidell, Louisiana, with his wife, Jenifer, and their four boys: Brendan (16), Jack (11), Luke (9), and Drew (7).
Where did you have your last truly great restaurant meal (other than one of your own places, of course!)?
Valentine’s Day at Marea in New York. The ambience, the food, the perfect Italian Kerner and nonobtrusive heartfelt service by people who love to serve—and my wife’s blue eyes—made everything perfect.
What’s your idea of late-night snacking bliss?
French fries, pommes frites, or pommes: positively the world’s most perfect food when made right. Dipped in mayo.
If you could work with one chef, alive or dead…who would it be and why?
Jean-Louis Palladin, perhaps the most talented chef who ever cooked in America, searching out the finest ingredients this country has to offer and cooking them with both finesse and a flare as only he could. A true culinary icon. [Note: Palladin passed away in 2001, at age 55. You can read his obit here.]
You can drink just one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Perhaps a Condrieu from Marcele Guigal?
What do you ask your mother to cook when you visit?
I live down the street from my mom, who is an accomplished baker. I love all her cookies, pies, cakes, and desserts. Nothing better than her pecan pie. I love my momma.
For an eating trip, where in the world would you go right now…and why?
At this time of year, I crave Provence and its pré-salé lamb, jumbo white asparagus, beautiful violet artichokes, fraises des bois, fresh almonds, and lavender honey. Is there any place more delicious?