(A Toque is the Tall White Chef’s Hat)
By Executive Chef John Zehnder, CEC, AAC, HGT
I attended the annual convention and reunion of the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque in Baton Rouge, June 7th through the 10th. The Golden Toque honors top chefs in the United States, membership is strictly limited to 100 members. This year’s reunion was hosted by Chef John Folse, who has a series on PBS highlighting the food and Cajun culture of south Louisiana. Chef Folse and I have been friends for over 30 years. The Grand Commander’s dinner took place at Chef Folse’s White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge and featured a recreation of the historic dinner served by Valcour Aime, a rich Creole planter, to a delegation of French dignitaries in 1855.
The menu featured Fricassee of Terrapin (turtle soup with quail eggs), Salade Valcour – a salad composed of several varieties of rare heirloom tomatoes and lettuces grown at White Oak and dressed with cane sugar vinaigrette, Turban of Striped Trout with Lump Crab Stuffing and Crawfish Sauce, Brown Sugar Smoked Duck Breast with Creole Greens and for dessert, Golden Swan Petit Versailles, white chocolate shaped swans custard and cherry liqueur filled, with hand churned vanilla ice cream.
There is no finer meal than when a chef prepares dinner for fellow chefs!
As Commander Treasurer of the Golden Toque and Chair of the Scholarship Committee, one of my favorite tasks is presenting the scholarships awarded annually. Scholarships include five $5,000 culinary scholarships presented by Sullivan University in Louisville, KY and two $2,500 culinary scholarships from the Toque members designated specifically for students, selected by the host chef, who have the passion to be a chef, but are financially struggling to pay tuition.
As the Cajuns say; “laissez le bon temp rouler” – “let the good times roll”!