Madeleine’s main claim to fame is that she is the mother of Parisian-born Pascal Sauton, the chef at the RiverPlace Hotel restaurant, here in Portland. Chef Sauton beams as he talks of his mother’s cooking and the dishes she used to prepare everyday for her family – dishes many of us consider “gourmet,” but which are commonplace in France – Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Cassoulet, just to name a few.
Madeleine was born eighty-three years ago in a town called Les Sables d’Olonne – a small town on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Bordeaux. She was an excellent cook, and her main focus was cooking for her family, each and every day. Eventually she started providing daycare for local children and cooked for them, too. Her services (or was it her food?) were so in demand that there was often a waiting list for prospective children.
While his mother did all the cooking at home, Chef Pascal often watched as she prepared his favorite dishes, taking mental notes to be used later when he became a chef. At the RiverPlace Hotel, Chef Sauton offers many traditional dishes of his native France, interpreted for his guests. He calls this “La Cuisine Personnelle” – loosely interpreted as “personal cooking,” – cooking rooted in one’s past and interpreted for the present. Some examples of these dishes are currently on the menu at the RiverPlace, including “Poulet Vallee D’Auge – chicken breast roasted & served with an apple cider cream and baked fuji apples, and “Canard aux Myrtilles” – roasted duck breast with huckleberry sauce & potatoes au gratin.
When asked about his favorite food memory, Chef Pascal’s first response is “the smell of cloves in the kitchen.” His mother would always keep cloves around as a natural potpourri, and to this day when he smells clove, his mind wanders back to his childhood kitchen, with all its tasty memories.
Brandade de Morue
purée of salt cod with potatoes, cream & olive oil, served with crostini & a green salad
Brandade de Morue
puree of salt cod with potatoes, cream & olive oil, served with crostini
chicken braised with bacon, pearl onions, sautéed mushrooms & new potatoes
“painted hills” beef, slow-cooked with red wine, mushrooms & aromatic vegetables, served with smashed red potatoes
a baked casserole of Tarbais (white) beans, duck leg confit, French garlic sausages (saucisson à l’ail & Toulouse), bacon & pork
this isn’t one of Madelene’s, but it’s a nice finale to a wonderful French meal – cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with a warm chocolate brandy sauce