Glance down a list of top-tier chefs today, and it’s a who’s who of chefs Palladin has mentored: Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michel Richard, Eric Ripert — all credit Palladin, who died of lung cancer in 2001, with making them who they are today.
First as owner and chef at La Table des Cordeliers in Monte Carlo, where he became the youngest chef in France, at 28, to receive two Michelin stars, and then at the Watergate Hotel restaurant, Palladin lived to cook. Hardly leaving Washington, D.C. during his tenure as chef there, he once said the restaurant was his family.
That didn’t mean the wild-haired chef didn’t enjoy life; but all endeavors were in pursuit of new flavors or the best scallops or the richest game birds. He organized game hunts, foraging expeditions, and made sourcing all of his ingredients from the best growers or farmers a priority. After traveling to Maine in search of seafood worthy of serving in his restaurant, Palladin found a fisherman who was shelling scallops as soon as they broke the surface. That farmer is now one of the major purveyors of quality Maine scallops.
After his death, the Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation, founded by his friends and colleagues, carries on his commitment to supporting hard-working farmers and fishermen. The Foundation provides grants to educate talented chefs about the importance of using fresh and local fare.
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