Photo by greenacre8/FlickrCC
Our Friend Stephen Hutchinson, affectionately dubbed "Hut" by my daughter, prepared us dinner the other night. Hut is a cook at the great Ken Frank's fantastic restaurant La Toque in Napa. Cooking is Hut's second profession. He used to build and design props and sets for film, theater, and television in San Francisco.
Last year, to complete his culinary degree, he had to do an externship at a restaurant, and I set him up with a gig at our local Michelin three-star French Laundry. During his term, Hut stayed in our guesthouse and, in exchange for room and board, did remodeling work on our house. No room was left untouched. Hut became a raging, tile-laying, dry-walling, plumbing ball of fury.
Hut was great company as he transformed our house before our very eyes. And he made great meals. Often he cooked with foraged mushrooms or abalone he would dive for himself, not to mention all the French Laundry leftovers. One night I opened the fridge to find a whole pig's head staring at me--startling in a Godfather sort of way. This same head, by then known as Winston, was transformed into the most succulent headcheese, nearly all of which I consumed one morning for breakfast.