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Guest chefs to take over Vail kitchens

The guest chefs for the 2004 Taste of Vail festival are Jacques Haeringer and Jody Adams. Adams, of Rialto in Cambridge, Mass., and blu in Boston, will host a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Larkspur on April 8. Haeringer, of LiAuberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Va., will host a luncheon at Terra Bistro from noon to 2 p.m. on April 10. Both chefs will present their culinary creations at the Grand Tasting, the ultimate Taste of Vail event.

Chef Jody Adams has garnered national acclaim for taking regional Mediterranean cuisine, putting a personal spin on it and creating dishes using fresh regional ingredients from her native New England.

“I love the creativity, the satisfaction of taking raw ingredients and turning them into something that makes people happy,” she said.

Growing up in the diverse community of Cambridge and living abroad in Europe for several years as a child exposed her to the food of Spain, Italy and France. It was an addictive connection.

“I just became hooked,” she said.

Add to that a family that was always cooking, as well as an innate attraction to the textures and seasonality of foods ” “the ebb and flow of life in a year” ” and you have the makings of a chef.

Her dedicated study of European food takes her abroad often, where she scours village markets for fresh, authentic regional fare. Plus, she said, she is an armchair traveler who studies the centuries-old, time-tested traditions that are basic laws of her trade.

“There has to be some integrity to the source,” she said.

She looks for consistency of traditional combinations, such as fennel-orange-tomato, or Wasabi-ginger-orange-soy. From those building blocks she creates her menu.

She’s been named the Best Chef of the Northeast by the James Beard Foundation, and her restaurant received the highest rating from the Boston Globe.

And what drives her to succeed in this uber-competitive field?

“I think because I’m crazy,” she said. “You have to be a little crazy in this business.”

But also, she says, she loves the chance for creativity, the quest for consistency, the attention to detail and creating an experience in an arena that she compares to theater.

“Every night is a new experience,” she said.

As guest chef at the Taste of Vail, her luncheon courses will include: a warm asparagus salad with aged gouda, truffle oil and anchovy dressing; salt cod with lobster salad and blood oranges; confit with spring greens, gigantic white beans and green olives; and for dessert, lemon-strawberry tart with meringue and almonds.

“They’ll have a fabulous lunch, great food that’s carefully thought-out and executed,” she said. “Simple, flavorful and correct.”

But really, it’s all about having a good time.

“You have to have fun,” she said. “That’s the whole point. It’s a party.”

For chef Jacques Haeringer, food is about more than taste and presentation. He likes the idea that meals bring people together “

friends, families, couples.

“That’s how we celebrate everything in life ” through a great meal,” he said.

Haeringer took up the family business ” not a bad deal when your family runs one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area.

His father, Francois, started the original Chez Francois in 1954. It

serves modern versions of traditional dishes from the family’s homeland, Alsace, a tiny province tucked away in the northeast corner of France bordering Germany.

The Washington Post called the restaurant “An Old World classic where the service is as impressive as anything on the menu.” It’s been named favorite place to eat 17 times in Washingtonian Magazine.

Fifty years in business is a long time for any restaurant. Haeringer

credits a moderate price range and a menu that appeals to a broad base of diners. Plus, a little luck.

“We just do what we like,” he said. “Fortunately, what we like is what our customers like.”

The menu at the luncheon in Vail will reflect the restaurant’s menu.

Courses will include salmon souffle, chaucote, which is Alsatian sauerkraut, and a lobster salad. Wines will be served by a sommelier brought in from France.

When he comes to Vail, he’ll bring most of his ingredients with him from Virginia. “The age of FedEx,” he said, makes that the easiest option.

Haeringer began his culinary career at the age of 10 helping in his

father’s kitchen. He didn’t settle on a career in restaurants until he had graduated from college with an English degree. He then apprenticed in France as the oldest apprentice ever, he joked.

He chose to go into the family business because of the opportunity to be creative and make people happily fed.

“You go into a dining room and see 100 people smiling,” he said. “There’s a certain satisfaction there.”

Haeringer has a television show that’s going into its second season. He’s also working on a couple of new cookbooks.


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