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Have a heart for
Garden District Gate
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An Old Home in the Garden District of New Orleans
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La Belle Cuisine
Jamie Shannon, 1961-2001
You know how it is. You arrive home from your holiday travels and are faced with all
manner of regrouping. Not
only do you have to unpack and get back in the groove, but also you must
plow your way through stacks of mail as well as an incredible amount of
e-mail. Imagine my shock in
discovering the following when I opened Tom Fitzmorris’
Orleans Menu Daily, dated Monday, November 26, 2001:
This is a heartbreaker. The kind that gives you no good place to start. Or
So let's fall back on the facts. Jamie Shannon was only 40 years old when
died at four in the afternoon last Friday. He seems even younger than
me, though. About as young as the old photo they ran in the
I did not want to believe what I read. It simply could not be
Jamie Shannon! Not at age 40!
I began plowing through piles
of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
And there it was:
Palace loses top chef to cancer.
(The Times-Picayune, Saturday, November 24,
2001, by John Pope, Staff Writer)
Shannon, the exuberant, innovative chef who led Commander’s Palace’s
already fabled kitchen to a string of national awards, died Friday [23
of cancer at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer
Center in Houston.
He was 40.
‘He had magic in his hands and a fire in his belly and a twinkle in his
Ti Adelaide Martin, a member of the [Brennan] family that
owns the Garden
District restaurant. ‘He was the quintessential
hospitality person. He wanted
people happy.’ "
an excellent way to be remembered! And
what a perfect place for
a man to have spent the last seventeen years
of his life. That is, of
course, what Commander’s Palace is all about – making people happy.
That has been my experience, time and time again, most recently
was fortunate enough to celebrate a significant
birthday at Commander’s, surrounded by
the people I love.
Because of Commander’s ongoing excellence, and because of its
to service (making people happy), we have often sung its
praises on these
pages in the past:
the Brennans: A New Orleans Reverie
will go on. It always has.
And we like to believe it always
will. Nevertheless, Jamie Shannon will be sorely missed.
Not just by his family and the owners and staff of Commander’s
Palace, but by the countless thousands of people he has made
happy. Perhaps you are
among those fortunate enough to know just how happy that is. If not,
you can cook, and eat, one of his creations, in what we consider
most fitting tribute to his memory.
is the recipe for the dish topping Tom Fitzmorris’
Whole Baked Redfish
Take Home the True Taste
of New Orleans with More
than 150 Recipes from
Commander's Palace Restaurant
by Ty Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
2000, Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
dish is a showstopper. When I know that it will be served to customers at
our Chef’s Table, I try to be around for the presentation. Out walks
6-foot-3 Irishman. Chef Jamie, in his crisp whites, carrying
an oversize oval
copper pan with what looks like a mound of baked salt.
Then Jamie cracks the
salt to reveal a fish so moist and fresh that
you’ll swear you can taste the sea.
The feigned nonchalance of even the
most serious foodies is overcome. When
you present this dish at home, only
you’ll know how simple it is to prepare.”
6-pound redfish, gutted, rinsed, and gills
(but not scales) removed
(snapper makes a good
substitute, as does bluefish, rockfish, or salmon)
pounds kosher salt
cup extra-virgin olive oil
sprigs fresh rosemary or other fresh herb
ground black pepper to taste
the oven to 450 degrees F.
the fish dry with a towel. Place a 1/4-inch-thick layer of salt on a sheet
pan large enough to keep the fish from hanging over the edges. Place the
fish on top of the salt, and, using your hands and the remaining salt,
mound the salt so that it completely covers the fish.
the fish I the oven for 1 hour (or 10 minutes per pound), or until an
instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish
an internal temperature of 130 degrees F.
a saucepan over low heat, bring the olive oil to 185 degrees F. and
lemon halves, rosemary, pepper and a touch of salt from the crust
fish. Remove from the heat and let steep.
off the excess salt from the fish. You should have a hard, white
that encases the entire fish. Crack off the top part of the crust.
fork, poke into the skin near the dorsal fin at the top of the fish,
and run a tine of the fork under the skin up the back of the fish to the
head, then in the opposite direction to the tail. Still using the fork, peel
skin back from
the length of the fish, being careful not to let the fish
flesh touch the salt. Using two large spoons, remove the top fillet and
neatly place it on a
serving platter. Remove the backbone by lifting it
from the tail toward the head. Before removing the bottom fillet, push
of the small fin bones
off to the side. Remove the bottom fillet in the
largest pieces possible,
removing any bones that you see.
one of the spoons, take up any liquid remaining in the pan and
over the fish. It’s loaded with flavor.
with a touch of the rosemary-infused olive oil. Garnish with a
rosemary and a lemon half.
Jamie’s Tips: Trust me,
even though this dish call for 8 pounds of salt
it will not taste salty.
The salt crust acts to seal in the natural flavors and
juices of the fish.
I also like to serve a piece of the salt crust with the fish
a garnish. In the summer, I like to garnish the dish
with Creole or
vine-ripened tomatoes; in the winter, I’ll garnish with
By Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon, 2000,
12 side-dish servings
medium eggplants, skin on, in small dice
medium zucchini, in small dice
small yellow squash, in small dice
bell peppers, any color, in small dice
jalapeño peppers, seeded, stemmed,
and cut in small dice
cloves garlic, peeled and minced
medium to large tomatoes, in small dice
medium onions, in small dice
cup extra-virgin olive oil
tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
tablespoons chopped basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
the oven to 400 degrees F.
the diced eggplant to soak in about a quart of salted cold water.
the other vegetables are cut, drain the eggplant.
the eggplant, squash, bell peppers, jalapeños,
and onions in the olive oil. Add the thyme, basil, salt,
large roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven
the vegetables from top to the bottom, but be
to break them up. Roast for 10 minutes more. The
be brown and colorful.
Shannon pushes, nurtures, and derives more life,
passion, and fun
this wonderful restaurant business
than anyone who has gone before."
~ Ti Adelaide Martin
Be well, stay safe, and express your love for each
you all. And until next time,
the only prayer you say in your life is 'Thank
hat would be enough."
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think
of one without
the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I
am really writing about
love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the
of it and the hunger for it…
and then the warmth and richness and
fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it
is all one."
~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
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