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FYI SOUTH Magazine, February 2007.

The Chef's Table @ La Maison

---By Stephan Translated by Monica Lin

La Maison
130, SihWei 3rd Rd., Lingya District, Kaohsiung City; (07) 335-9559
Hours:6 pm-11 pm (closed Monday)

As a fledgling chef, Vincent cut his teeth on international food preparation in the large hotel chains, learning the basics of French Continental cuisine from mainland Chinese and Swiss chefs. For three years he lived and studied authentic cuisine in France, completing 15 courses at in Paris and holding stagier positions in many regional restaurants of France. Like most chefs from the French tradition, Chef Vincent believes in using only the best produce of the region, based on seasonality. A menu should not be written until the produce available has been examined and tasted, and even then a menu must evolve to reflect the changes in availability and quality. Therefore, a cook's best bet is simply to visit the local markets; look at the food, ask the producer questions, and taste their produce. Allow the freshness of the seasonal ingredients to inspire your dish, rather than working within the confined borders of a recipe. I requested that Chef Vincent put these theories to use and write recipes especially for our readers. He thought hard about the logistics of the average Taiwanese kitchen and created a recipe based on his daily trips to the market place. The following soup recipe is a wonderful accompaniment to a cold winter day, and the Skewer of Shrimp Diana Style was made with seafood so fresh it popped in my mouth. It was rounded out with a basic tomato sauce made from this season's sweetest, reddest tomatoes.

Chef Vincent concedes that La Maison is not in everyone's budget, but he encourages you to treat yourself to a once-a-year authentic, French dining experience. I, for one, agree.

Vegetable Soup with Bordeaux Reduction
-1 onion
-1 carrot
-1/4 butternut squash (pumpkin)
-1 stick of celery
-1 potato
-800cc chicken stock
-300cc milk
-100cc cream
-red wine reduction
-extra virgin olive oil
-basil (torn) or parsley
-paprika -croutons


Cut the vegetables into shards, then add herbs and chicken stock. Boil until very tender, then mash.
Strain the mash through a semi-fine sieve into a pan. Add the cream and milk and heat gently, stirring constantly.
When serving, adorn with red wine reduction, olive oil, paprika, croutons and some freshly torn basil.


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