There is a tongue-in-cheek proverb that is bandied about from the great Erma Bombeck that goes “Seize the day — remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” I’ve always loved this line. It’s just the right amount of sardonic wit and flagrant indulgence that makes for the best kind of flashy quote. But as any proverbial slogan is wont to do, it brings about a good point — will I be doggy paddling around the Atlantic wishing I would have had that second piece of cake? So I ask, if your ship is going down, what would your last meal be?
But other than morbid curiosity, why ask this question? I believe this is the question that shows who a person truly is. A question that one must bare their innermost soul to answer correctly. In a few sentences it explains everything I would care to know about someone. What is important to them? Are they adventurous or conservative? Do they want something that reminds them of the past or makes them feel alive in the present?
For that reason, I ask this question a lot. For anyone who knows me, I’ve probably asked you this question. When I’m trying to get to know a room full of people this is my go to. This is always the second question I ask on every first date. In the spirit of getting to know each other, we asked some of the top chefs from around Denver this very question. Use these as inspiration for your answer in the comments below.
Last Meal of a Chef
DANIEL ASHER, Executive Chef/Owner, River and Woods
“As far as learning about what the last cravings a chef would want to satisfy, it puts some things in perspective. I think food and restaurant agendas, in general, can get overly complicated and it’s nice to think about what simple basic flavors create the most joy.”
“I would love to gather together a “fruits of the season” type of salad in a big stainless steel bowl, like some palisade peaches, Paonia cherries, Monroe farms musk melon, Munson corn, McCauley farm greens, Cure Farm heirloom tomatoes, an organic California avocado, a nice crumble of haystack smoked chevre and some Point Reyes blue — I know, double cheese! Why not? A healthy drizzle of some unfiltered Arbequina olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sea salt and cracked pepper.”
“To drink, a nice pour of biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc and a cold glass of Eldorado Springs water. “
“And for the finish, a pint of Graeter’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream!”
DAN KANE, Executive Chef, Del Frisco’s Grille
“I’d definitely have the pulled pork sandwich and onion loaf from Corky’s BBQ, a rack of beef ribs from the Rendezvous, cole slaw, bbq beans, rolls and butter from Gridley’s. All in Memphis, TN, which is, of course, where the best BBQ in the world is.”
JEREMY GLAS, Corporate Executive Chef, Shamrock Foods
“Usually younger chefs are going to have the words foie gras, waygu, caviar, liquid nitrogen or etc. in their list. Seasoned pros go back to the best things they’ve ever had. I remember how all of this tasted and that it was the best it’s ever been and maybe will ever be. To have that feeling again one last time before I go is my heaven”
“[My last meal] would be different foods from where they are known to be the best. Sushi from a small place in Yokohama that overlooks the bay; sweet corn and Berkshire pork from my family’s farm in Stuart, Iowa; a ribeye from either Nebraska or Kansas cooked over hickory coals; wild salmon from the Kenai peninsula, probably smoked; pupusas from an amazing El Salvadorian prep cook I once had; a nice crusty bread from Larry at Breadworks in Boulder with Manchego cheese and some beautiful goat butter from England; sous vide Colorado Lamb Chops with west slope peach marmalade; my wife’s parmesan chicken; heirloom tomatoes marinated in a little extra virgin and sherry vinegar; Rocky Ford Cantaloupes cubed with Maldon salt; Strawberries from just about anywhere; my green chili; Ice Cream Alchemy for dessert and I’d wash it all down with Coconut Porter from Oskar Blues and Princess Yum Yum from Denver Beer Company; and maybe some Glenlivet.
MATTY SELBY, Regional Executive Chef, Punch Bowl Social
“My last meal would be my wife’s Memphis style pork ribs, with all the fixings, with Palisade peach cobbler for dessert. And maybe a foie gras torch!”
TROY GUARD, Restaurateur and Chef, TAG Restaurant Group
“I’d for sure go with a 24oz bone-in rib eye, with Guard and Grace seasoning, cooked over a wood fire of course. My side dish would be my mom’s own twice baked potatoes and a Chinese style wok charred choi sum would be my veg. Definitely a tequila and Squirt to wash it all down, and I would eat all this in Hawaii on the beach watching the sunset.”
KLAUS KREBS, Executive Chef, Isle of Capri
“My last meal would definitely be Italian food. I would eat it on the patio of the house my grandfather built in Manerba, overlooking Lago di Garda in northern Italy. It would be a family-style spread of prosciutto, speck, salami, Tallegio, Gorgonzola, olives, roasted artichokes and freshly baked bread that I picked up at the market that morning. I would pick some fresh figs from the tree that is on the property to pair with the cheese and salumi. A bowl of shellfish stew with onions, tomatoes and white wine would be next, followed by a simple hand-made pasta dish. After that I would walk down to the neighborhood restaurant, sit outside under the large tree and have one of their pizzas. Of course after all that delicious food, I would have to enjoy a Grappa or Schnaps, or one of each!
FRANK BONANNO, Restaurateur and Chef, Bonanno Concepts
“I don’t really like to think of my last meal, it’s morbid. But, if I had to choose it would be a Roasted Rack of Veal with Alba White Truffles, Potato Puree & Sauteed Porcini Mushrooms. Served at my house with my family, of course”
JUSTIN BARBOUR, Chef and Charismatic Writer, 303 Magazine
If ever there was a time to overindulge, this is it. As I said, I ask this question a lot, and so, consequently, I end up answering this question a lot. I’ve noticed over time that my answer grows and changes as, I hope, I myself do. What this means though is that my answer usually cradles somewhere between that of a poetic haiku and the laundry list of a lunatic.
I want to eat alone. Like a wounded lion I want to crawl into a bush, gorge on every whim and delight, and then die like I was born — naked and crying. Before I shuffled off this mortal coil I would want every piece of seafood that I could reasonably remember the name of. If it moved in the sea at one point, I want to eat it. Preferably mere seconds after it came out of that sea. The tomalley of a blue crab; the silky uni of a sea urchin; the raw, sensually fatty collar of a tuna; razor clams and oysters; all paired with crusty bread and drawn butter. Next, a Napoli pizza from Florence — capers, anchovies, marinara and cheese. True perfection. Finally, a cheese and charcuterie board that would make Aphrodite blush — the strongest most pungent cheeses, the finest old-world meats, paired with marmalades and honey. To drink, probably nothing fancy, an old bottle of red wine, most likely French.