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PET FOOD SPECIAL : A Dog's Best Cook

June 22, 1995|KATHIE JENKINS

When New York chef/restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten first arrived as an apprentice at the Michelin three-starred L'Auberge de l'Ill in Alsace 22 years ago, he imagined himself cooking with truffles and foie gras , the stuff of luxury dining. Instead, Vongerichten found himself preparing some pretty plain meals, the most mundane of which was chopped steak with basmati rice and haricots verts , and fillet of fish with roast potatoes. Once in a while an adventurous eater would ask for rabbit confit and potatoes.

Sometimes customers even brought their own food, and then all he had to do was put it in a silver bowl.

His cooking was for the dogs.

"We had 200 people for lunch on Sundays," says Vongerichten. "In Alsace, there are a lot of Germans, Swiss and French, and they all showed up with a big Mercedes and a dog. I spent my first month at the restaurant cooking for their dogs."

Not that Vongerichten really minded. It beat peeling potatoes, plucking pheasants under the watchful eye of a stern chef, or some other menial tasks apprentices are expected to perform.

Bernard Loiseau, now chef/owner of the three-starred La Co^te d'Or in Saulieu, is familiar with canine cuisine as well. After doing time cutting and peeling as an apprentice at the three-star Troisgros, he was finally allowed to use the oven. But he accidentally threw hot coals into a simmering skillet instead of the stove. As punishment, writes William Echikson in his new book, "Burgundy Stars," Loiseau had to cook for Ted, the Troisgros' cocker spaniel. From then on, his fellow-chefs referred to him as "the world's best cook for dogs."

Michael Roberts, chef/co-owner of Twin Palms in Pasadena, regularly whips up meals for his Corgies, Marcel and Otto. "I took Otto to Paris with me two years ago," says Roberts. "In France, butcher shops carry viande pour chiens . I would buy big piles of this meat stuff, cook it up, and add some carrots and rice. It's practically impossible to find it here."

Whenever Roberts roasts chicken, Marcel and Otto get rillettes . Roberts slowly cooks the heart, gizzard and liver in chicken fat, then pulverizes the parts into a paste. "They love it," says Roberts. "I just don't give too much to Marcel because he has a weight problem."

Vongerichten also cooked for his Labrador puppy when the two used to share a room at the Drake Hotel in New York. But after a few weeks, the maid refused to clean the room, and eventually management told the chef that either he or the dog had to go.

Now chef/owner of three hot New York restaurants--Vong, Jojo, and the Lipstick Cafe--Vongerichten fondly looks back at his days at L'Auberge when he was chef to the dogs.

"We would charge a great deal of money for those meals," he says. "It was great, it was edible, it was far from dog food."

GENORA'S VEGETABLE SOUP FOR DOGS

Genora Hall uses whatever vegetables she has on hand--cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peas, for instance--to make this flavorful soup. "If you want to get carried away," she says, "you can throw in a chicken." Hall recommends ladling a cup of the soup over a bowl of kibble just before serving.

When one furry four-footed friend first tried the soup, she spit out the chucks of cauliflower on the carpeting. But after finishing her bowl of kibble, she returned to the cauliflower, sniffed twice and ate it all up.

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups chopped vegetables

1 cup cooked rice

6 cups water

Heat oil in soup pot. Add garlic and cook over low heat until garlic is tender, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add cooked rice and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Makes about 3 quarts, or 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

64 calories; 22 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.46 gram fiber.

PITCAIRN'S DOGGY OATS

It's true that most dogs aren't finicky about what they eat, but all of the dog taste testers liked these doggy oats. The recipe, which meets a dog's average daily needs, is from the new edition of "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats," to be published in July. All of the ingredients, including bone meal, a great source of calcium, can be found at most health food stores. Pitcairn uses Bone-All by Schiff, the only brand he's found in powder form.

The "healthy powder" recipe is enough for several batches of doggie oats. Pitcairn recommends using sodium ascorbate powder for Vitamin C "because it tastes better and is not as sour as other forms".

DOGGY OATS

8 cups rolled oats

2 pounds raw ground or chopped turkey

1/2 cup Healthy Powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup vegetables, such as carrots or zucchini, cooked or grated raw

3 tablespoons bone meal

1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce for flavoring and little saltiness

2 cloves minced garlic, crushed

10,000 International Units liquid Vitamin A

400 Int. Units liquid Vitamin E

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