“You are the butter to my bread, you are the breath to my life.” – Paul Child, Julie & Juila
If you haven’t seen Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, you are missing out on a cinematic masterpiece for food lovers the world over. Stanley Tucci plays Paul Child, husband to the famous Julia Child. In short, he plays a man that was as in love with food as he was his wife. And in reality, Mr. Tucci is, like his character, quite the foodie. His culinary expertise doesn’t start and finish at the table, either. In fact, Stanley Tucci is quite skilled in culinary arts, and he put those skills on display this evening in London, at the Mandarin Oriental, for a room of select guests.
To celebrate the launch of Stanley Tucci’s latest film The Final Portrait, which investigates the life of the celebrated artist Alberto Giacometti, and to raise money for a charity near and dear to his heart, The Trussell Trust, Tucci joined forces with chef Thomas Piat of Bar Boulud to showcase a four course menu to remember. The night began with a Tuccitini, a unique twist on a classic martini, as guests greeted Mr. Tucci and mingled before the first course. Then, it was down to serious business.
As we took our seats, we were greeted with the first course, a delightful and refreshing dish of crudites, chilled seafood and quail egg. It should be noted that each and every course was inspired and took its name from The Final Portrait. Brief explanation as to why this is so important for me, personally, to mention: Alberto Giacometti is actually the artist that inspired me to ditch medical school and instead pursue an advanced degree in arts history. Yes, it is a small and strange world. So, when Mr. Tucci was telling me about the launch of this project, which hits theatres next month, I wanted to reach out, hug him and thank him for bringing Giacometti to the mainstream. Don’t worry, I know that would have been inappropriate, so I kept my overwhelming excitement to myself. Now I’m wondering if that was mistake. Can’t relive it, so on to course two.
The second plate was the Red Mullet Matisse. You guessed it. It was a fish course, only this fish was dressed to impress with a ratatouille addition and a presentation that was quite memorable (see pics below).
And finally the main, and most definitely the favourite for the night around the table. Alberto’s finest lamb, it was called and fine it was. I have never in my life had lamb cooked so perfectly. It was melt in your mouth goodness paired with grilled vegetables and risotto served family style.
We ended the four course culinary adventure with Giacometti’s Mess. One could imagine this drawing inspiration from an artist’s studio indeed!
The food was an experience in itself. Breaking bread with the chef and the legend that is Stanley Tucci is quite another experience all on its own. Just another one of those crazy pinch me moments. But, I’ll say this, in closing. For anyone wondering, Mr. Tucci is everything and more than you would expect. As it turns out, the most charming character he has ever played is just himself.