With Mother’s Day around the corner, we asked some of our favorite chefs what they’ll be giving — and hoping for! — this year. We also asked them to share their most special Mother’s Day memories and traditions. Read on for their picks and to learn how they’ll be celebrating this very special holiday, with their kids, mothers and entire families. Happy Mother’s Day!
Chef and cookbook author John Besh is the owner of nine restaurants: August, Besh Steak, Lüke, Lüke San Antonio, La Provence, American Sector, Soda Shop, Domenica and Borgne. He is also the creator of the new Besh Box, a collection of hand-picked items to inspire, spark creativity and get you cooking. He and his wife Jenifer are parents to Brendan, Jack, Luke and Andrew.
How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Any traditions?
It’s about honoring our wives and mothers and nothing does that better than breakfast in bed. The boys really get into the action and that’s why something like a fritatta is perfect — it could be early morning or afternoon and this is always perfect. It’s something so easy that even [my youngest son] Andrew can make it.
What was your favorite childhood meal that your mom made? Any specific memories that come to mind?
The aroma of my mother Imelda’s trout amandine is one of my most vivid childhood food memories. When my nose caught the scent of brown butter and toasted almonds from our kitchen, I knew my dad had been fishing. My mom would season and sauté the freshly filleted and floured trout with butter, almonds, parsley and lemon juice.
What’s your favorite thing to cook with your mom? With your wife?
My mom’s redfish courtbouillon. It’s one of her signature dishes, and boy is it good!
My favorite things to cook with Jen are the dishes that we learned to make in Provence together like tomato and fresh cheese tartines or tians using seasonal, fresh garden vegetables. We love recreating all of the delicious and simple dishes we learned during our time in France.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your mom in the kitchen? From your wife?
My mother has taught me how to take the fresh fish that I catch and prepare the delicate fish in a beautiful way.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the kitchen from Jenifer is to really focus on my family’s kitchen just as I would my restaurants’ kitchens. It’s been a transformative lesson.
What is your favorite dish/meal that your wife makes now?
Jenifer’s cucumber & tomato salad made with cubed cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a freshly made vinaigrette. It’s simple, delicious, and a constant in our home throughout the summer months. (Note from Taste: Find the recipe below!)
1. Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Round Dutch Oven: “In my house our Dutch oven stays on the stove all the time, ready for those delicious one pot dishes like shrimp creole or chili.”
2. Bonjour Maximus 8-Cup French Press: “We serve french press coffee at Restaurant August — I just love the rituals of coffee and this is one of my favorites.”
3. Williams-Sonoma Champagne Flutes: “Champagne cocktails are perfect for Mother’s Day — you’ll want a beautiful flute for them.”
4. Solid Cashmere Throw: “Jen loves great blankets all year round. Cashmere is just heavenly.”
5. Breville Electric Citrus Press: “I love citrus season in Louisiana and I juice as much of it as I can. Perfect for making mimosas for mom.”
Jen’s Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Jenifer says she could eat this salad — equal parts cubed small cucumber and cherry tomatoes — every day. You’ll likely find it in our fridge throughout the summer, prized as a relish, with sandwiches or on its own.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 Persian cucumbers, peeled and cubed
1 pint cherry tomatoes of different colors, halved
5 small red onions, diced
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh parsley
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch red pepper flakes
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper.
Combine the cucumber, onion, basil, parsley and thyme in a large bowl. Season with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper.
Stir in the vinaigrette and let the flavors marinate for 30 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
Recipe from Cooking from the Heart, Andrews McMeel Publishing