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                                                            Sometimes the best things are found by mistake, or September 2015 Issue / Vol. 3, No. 16                                                                                           you didn’t intend them to be that way














 











      
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Chef François de Mélogue, Portland, Oregon
Chef François de Mélogue has no problem straying from the shore. That safe place in everyone’s life that’s a step away from returning in one’s soul to what poet-turned-Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins, called, all this juice and joy when burnout happens. Some of that juice and joy has been memorialized in de Mélogue’s upcoming cookbook, Cuisine of the Sun. The cookbook, de Mélogue’s first, publishes December 2015. A book tour will follow. “The idea is actually a culmination of my entire cooking career,” de Mélogue described the project. “My mom is from Marseilles, the heart of Provence. So I grew up eating this kind of food. And I generally worked in restaurants that were Southern French or at least brought that approach into the kitchen. This is a book that’s been in my head for years and years and years. Since I was a chef in my restaurant in Chicago called Pili Pili, which was a Provençal restaurant.” What took him so long? “To be honest,” de Mélogue got to the heart of the matter, “the restaurant business is pretty brutal. As a chef you’re working 16, 18 hours a day, and six days, sometimes seven days a week. And the thought to, like, sit down with this creative moment on your time off is a fantasy.” Particularly at the restaurant, Pili Pili, located in de Mélogue’s hometown, Chicago. The restaurant made Food & Wine Magazine’s list of top 10 new restaurants in the world, Gourmet’s list of top 20 restaurants in the U.S., and top reviews from national and international media. “I mean I was all over the press,” de Mélogue said. “I was on national TV every three weeks. I really wanted to write it then. But I just never had time.” So he had to make time. He finally took off his toque a year ago. “I don’t know,” de Mélogue explained his decision to retire at 50-years-old. “It struck me one day, Oh my God I should finally do this. I pulled out all my notebooks because I’ve always kept journals at every restaurant that I’ve worked at, and I went through them. I thought, I’ve got to put that dish in it, and that dish, and that dish, and that dish. So that’s really where it started, the genesis of it, if you will.”