Friday, February 17, 2012

Chef Cari Jo Cavalcante, Part 3: The tale of the 'Paris Dish'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM

These are treasured plates at the Bloomsbury Bistro.
  • These are treasured plates at the Bloomsbury Bistro.
Everyone brings back keepsakes from a vacation, but Cari Jo Cavalcante has a whole restaurant full of mementos, thanks to one memorable trip to Paris. In the fall of 2000, the chef had no idea that she would be the owner of the Bloomsbury Bistro by the following spring. So she booked a spring tour of the French city, and two weeks after her new restaurant opened, Cavalcante was bound for Charles de Gaulle Airport, leaving a newly trained staff to keep the kitchen fires stoked. Her excitement over her new business and that trip is embodied by five-dozen little white plates and what has come to be known as the "Paris Dish." She shares the story of the treasured dessert plates today.

On Wednesday, she talked about growing up in sniffing distance of a chocolate factory, and yesterday, she admitted that she would do just about anything to get out of eating liver and onions.

"This is the white dish we use every time we cook our creme brulee. It's the reason I bought this dish. I needed a better dish to cook a creme brulee in. In thick, tall ones, it doesn't always get cooked through. Also, I really wanted to bring something back from Paris. I remember I went into this cooking store, and it was the perfect size. I thought that it's it. So I spent the money to have it shipped home, and it became the 'Paris Dish.'

That's how the entire staff knows it. They know they can't break a 'Paris Dish.' If someone does, they slink out because I'll say, 'You know I got those dishes in Paris.' I sound just like a mother. I originally brought 72 back, and I bet there's probably still 60 left. I've never found this dish in America, but I still look for it in all the catalogs. I guess I'll just have to go back. Paris was magical for me. I've never eaten so much foie gras. I just wanted to taste everything.

It was the lights, atmosphere and the ambience of Paris. All those little cafes and bistros, I was so amped up about what I was doing. It was six days — a tour where we would go on little trips from our hotel to shops and the Paris flea markets. I can't want to go back there and I just wish we had the boulangeries and pastry shops here."

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