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THE CATERING RACE : Have We Got an Oudill for You!


The most exciting food I ate during a recent trip to France was cooked by Didier Oudill in his little restaurant in Grenade-sur-L'Adour. Oudill, who was for eight years executive chef at Michel Guerard's restaurant in Eugenie-les-Bains, is not as well-known as he deserves to be simply because his restaurant, Pain, Adour et Fantasie, is so hard to get to. Although chefs from Joel Robuchon to Alain Ducasse are his fans, and although he has two Michelin stars, few Americans have found their way to his door. (The restaurant is in Gascogny, halfway between Bordeaux and Pau.)

That's why his arrival in Southern California is so exciting: he'll be cooking dinner at Champagne Bis all next week, and on Saturday April 3, he'll be teaching a cooking class. His recipes--like this one--tend to be fairly complex. And very delicious.


1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons almond powder

6 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon rum

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, with stems if possible

Dash saffron

2 tablespoons dry red wine


Bring cream to boil in saucepan and add almond powder and 3 tablespoons sugar. Return to boil 30 seconds and remove from heat. Add rum. Set aside.

Select 4 large strawberries. Cut off stem end and reserve. Place 1 strawberry on top of each Petit-Beurre and place in 350-degree oven about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and replace stems on berries.

With fork, puree remaining strawberries with saffron, red wine and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

To assemble, put 1 warm Petit-Beurre in center of each plate. Drizzle with almond cream. Pour saffron-strawberry puree around pastry and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Note: If almond powder is not available, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and boil until cream is reduced by half.


(Butter Biscuits)

5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter, softened

3 ounces (7 tablespoons) sugar

7 ounces (scant 1 1/2 cups) flour

Zest 1 lemon

In food processor, quickly mix together butter, sugar, flour and lemon zest until soft dough forms. Shape into cylinder 4 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Cut cylinder in 4 horizontal slices. Place slices on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 10 to 12 minutes, until slices slightly brown.

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