Don’t use too much seasoning and don’t dump the ingredients in all at one time. “Build” your dish by adding ingredients in stages so you add textures and taste.
That’s the cooking advice celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme gave me during an interview almost 24 years ago.
I recalled that conversation after learning last week that the legendary Louisiana culinary artist had died at age 75.
Prudhomme was generous with his time, allowing me to follow and question him about cooking techniques as he prepared for a demonstration at Maison Blanche’s Cortana Mall store in Baton Rouge.
He was in the Capital City to promote one of his cookbooks, “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoned America” (William Morrow and Co., October 1991).
“I never follow recipes,” he told the audience watching his cooking demonstration.
Instead, he explained, he relied on smell and taste to determine if he was getting the results he wanted. He encouraged everyone to adapt recipes to their own taste by substituting ingredients they like.
Prudhomme said he wrote the book “to help us understand how delicious traditional American food can be.”
Asked if he would develop recipes using less butter or cream, Prudhomme replied, “I’ll never cut the taste. … my job is to make a dish better. If butter will make it better, I will put it in.”
In the process of making his dishes better, Prudhomme introduced the world to Cajun and Creole cooking, transforming Louisiana’s culinary scene.
Rest in peace, Chef.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.