Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Anthony Bourdain explains in the introduction to a new coffee table book that chefs often play a game after hours, as they sit drinking their wine, of choosing their last meal. You may have read about it in the New Yorker. Fifty top-rank chefs rose to the challenge, and the results may surprise you. Sure, there are truffles, and caviar, and foie gras, but well-respected Jacques Pepin chose a simple hot dog for his last meal. Masa Takayama requested blowfish. Gordon Ramsay, a blowfish of sorts, called for a classic roast. Tyler Florence wants a southern meal, like the suppers he had as a child. "No frou frou French. No snout-to-tail. No fucking foie gras."

It's a cute game for foodies, but what about the last meals of actual condemned prisoners? What requests come from Death Row? I dug around and found a list.

That made it possible to pair some top-rank chefs with condemned prisoners. It would be an education for both parties. Jacques Pepin could eat his simple hot dog with convicted murderer Richard Williams, who actually requested hot dogs smothered with chili. Takayama could eat his fish with David Hicks, who requested fish, fries, and soda. Chef Laurent Tourondel wanted a BLT sandwich, and so did condemned man Jerry McFadden. Tyler Florence could have his southern meal with Alva Curry, who requested chicken-fried steak with country gravy.

Some matches are not perfect. Eric Ripert would have to share his black-bass tartare, poached white tuna, and spiny lobster curry with Clydell Coleman, who actually requested salmon croquettes. And Gordon Ramsey. His yelling probably wouldn't make him very popular in prison, but maybe his grilling skills would please Stanley Baker, Jr., who asked for two 16 oz. rib-eyes. That is, unless Ramsey gets a knuckle sandwich first.



Rossrey said...

Very funny investigative culinary reporting. Pulitzer Committee, take note.


Bob Rini said...

Ross, Hiya! Glad you liked the report, and thanks for the good word to the Pulitzer Committee.