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Ratatouille is not known as a chichi French dish. Rather, it’s a rustic, working-class vegetable stew you normally wouldn’t dream of taking to a French White Dinner Potluck in Chevy Chase, one of the richest neighborhoods in the Washington DC region, tout simplement because French dining is meant to reflect class! (sorry about bad iPhone image quality)

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But today, French refinement has inspired and even defined the style of some great American chefs. Thomas Keller, named Best Chef in America in 1997, transformed the disheveled French ratatouille into a dish presented in true French style – hearty but elegant.

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It all started when Keller was approached by Brad Bird, director of animated film Ratatouille.  Bird challenged the chef to invent an appetizing ratatouille dish that could be generated by a computer and cooked by a rat! 

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Keller responded by challenging Bird and his team to immerse themselves in French cuisine, in order to make the most authentic animated movie about food possible.

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They took cooking classes, consulted with food experts, interned in Keller’s professional kitchen, and dined in high end restaurants in Paris.  

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The results of the exchange are remarkable: an Academy Award–winning film and a delightful ratatouille recipe, one that managed to charm more than a few French guests at the recent White Dinner.

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With all the work that went into creating Ratatouille, you might think Keller’s ratatouille would be difficult and expensive to make. Quite the opposite. You’ll be surprised how simple, economical, and convenient it is. Here is the link I used for the recipe:  http://www.justasdelish.com/ratatouilles-ratatouile-confit-byaldi/.

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