“If you were to die tomorrow, what single dish, what mouthful of food from anywhere in the world or anytime in your life, would you chose as your last? What would be your choice for your last meal on earth?” – Anthony Bourdain
A simple premise. A deceptively difficult challenge to master. What would be your defining meal? The single repast that bids farewell your earthly existence, a culinary celebration as you shuffle off the mortal coil?
Published in 2007, My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea pose this question to fifty of our greatest culinary geniuses and their answers are poignant and illumining. The portraits of the chefs are truly amazing, as revealing of their personalities and character as their prose. This is the perfect book for your coffee-table, to spark your own game of “My Last Supper” at your next dinner party. Check out the My Last Supper website, with additional photos and recipes from featured chefs.
My favorite twist on the game came when a group of food and wine journalists were stuck due to a mechanical breakdown on the side of the road in France. It didn’t take long for us to be rescued, but in that time Fred Minnick and Richard Auffrey were conspiring on who should be the first victim, if help didn’t arrive, and the group had to go all Donner Party and resort to cannibalism. I offered to take one for the team, but Minnick demurred, saying I was a friend, and I shouldn’t be the first course. Auffrey opined that the vegetarians should go first, as “grass-fed tastes best.” Luckily we were back in civilization by dinnertime, and carnage was averted. (And I didn’t have to test the bonds of friendship and see where I really stood on the food-chain).
In the book, the chef’s last meals are invariably simple, basic, delicious food from their childhoods. In the past I’ve picked roast chicken, or a French traditional baguette warm from the oven with cheese and chacuterie, but today I pick a cheese burger off the grill, dressed with tomato, lettuce and onion, with steak fries and a pint or two from Iron Fist Brewing. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die…
photo credits of My Last Supper bookcover and portrait of Anthony Bourdain: Melanie Dunea ©2007