Claude is a marvel, a delight and a law unto himself. Even apart from being one of my favourite people – he is the consummate host. Everything is impeccable, and yet it is still comfortable such that I don’t panic when the dinner party is at my house. I suspect this is partly why it’s been so fun to throw a few curve balls at Claude through the MasterChef preparatory social events. I’m allowed to admit to finding this fun because it still didn’t throw Claude off stride. Green papaya? Perfect – modernized slaws are a Claude specialty. Kalamansi? No problem – dressing it is. (I still think it would have been interesting in the pana cotta, although I did adore the grapefruit and vanilla bean version. And, as a side note, the kalamansi G&Ts is a worthwhile endeavour.) Beef heart… a little pause, perhaps, but promptly off to trimming and prepping for rouladen, dill pickle and all.
I’ve been asked what I consider Claude’s specialties to be. Instantly, I thought of champagne grape jelly, oven-hot pretzels, and themes of piquant salads and interesting cocktails… and then I stopped and realized I couldn’t think of any other dish I’ve had twice at Claude’s. I admire his zest for trying new recipes and his skill at making them so deliciously (really with only one exception, and fresh sardines in Winnipeg are a bit of a challenge), and I am honoured to be a trusted guinea pig.