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May 11, 2008

What Does the Chef Eat at Home?

I love this question because it the one I am asked the most, as the host at The Edge and the wife of Chef Bryan Dame. The simple quick answer is “whatever I feed him.” Honestly, after 12 hours in front of a stove, most chefs do not have the ambition to cook dinner.

Food is our life and is not taken lightly at Casa Dame. We talk about, read about, watch TV about, we buy from producers we know and trust, chef hunts, we grow vegetables, tour farms, pet live stock that will be dinner in a few months, and get up crazy early to go to the fish exchange. We buy oddities on the Internet, forage for wild foods, always seek out the best markets when visiting cities and there is always a fresh loaf of homemade bread on our kitchen counter.

Yes, we do enjoy and I make beautiful romantic meals like the perfect roast chicken with buttery mashed potatoes; poached halibut over braised leeks; filet crusted with gorgonzola, shallots and parsley in a red wine reduction; homemade sushi; hand rolled pasta, and, yes, all of the classic sauces do grace our dinner table, but we reserve those meals for nights off and special occasions.

In our kitchen is a battery of equipment that would make Escoffier proud. Our pantry houses seven types of vinegar, six kinds of flour, and an astounding amount of condiments, but the truffle oil is right at home in the fridge with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.

The rules of dinner are simple: easy preparation, made from scratch—fresh, local when available—nutritious, and the most of every dollar. I’ve been known to spend a king’s ransom on a pound of fair trade coffee but otherwise I am an incredibly savvy and thrifty shopper.

So what does that translate to on the plate? Many seasonal soups and stews, lots of fresh vegetables, pounds of salad, a cheese plate with fruit and bread, grilled foods, tofu eight ways, omelets with a variety of filling, falafel, loaded baked potatoes, tacos, banana pancakes, grilled cheese plain or dressed up, and plenty of whole grains and beans.

The most important rule to dinner is that it should be leisurely and shared.  Simple, tasty and together.

Chef Bryan Dame & Natasha Dame of The Edge restaurant in Lincolnville.

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