Shane Coffey, the soon-to-be-former chef at Alias, is about to leave his loyal Lower East Siders for white tablecloths in Aspen. He swears he’ll be back, but we got his last meal request down before he ditches town, to be safe.
Tell me about your last meal. I thought about doing a farewell tour of New York, but I’m taking myself back to some late September afternoon with my parents instead. Dayton, Ohio, in our backyard, at a rickety, old, rusting picnic table. There are ribs on the grill and whatever came out of the garden. My mom always made ribs on family occasions. She would dry-rub them, cook them in the oven covered with sauerkraut, slather them with supermarket barbecue sauce, and grill them. The ribs at Alias are a derivative of hers. It’s all about the aroma. I have these constant reminders around me that rip me back into my childhood. I had a great childhood.
Would you become a kid again? I’d be me now. I would want my son to be there.
What else would you eat?
Corn. Actually, right before I got my tonsils out, I ate about 20 ears of corn, because I wasn’t going to be able to eat afterwards, and I got really sick. I didn’t eat corn for about 20 years after that, until I was telling my son to try it. Then I realized I was over it.
Thank God. Oh, there would have to be apples—we had three apple trees.
In September? Yeah, I guess there wouldn’t be too many around . . .
Hey, this is your last meal. Right.
What would you drink? I think I’d have a glass of milk.
Wow. Also, an old Coke. Before high fructose corn syrup, it was made with cane sugar. When they switched, my friends and I bought all the old Cokes we could. We wanted to save them till we graduated.
Did you make it? Well, no. We kinda forgot about them for a few years, and they had exploded in my closet.
Gross. While I’m at it, I would have some old fries from McDonald’s.
Like, fries that have been sitting around?
Yeah, we had three McDonald’s where I lived, and we used to ask for the old fries. It was hard to get the manager to give them to you, but they were awesome. Some were really crunchy, but others would be steamy and greasy, melting.
You were quite the connoisseur. Were your friends obsessive, too, or were you the ringleader? It was me, making them do all this stupid stuff.
Would the search for old fries and old Coke be part of the meal? Definitely. Those are some of my best memories. I would also have a can of sardines and some crackers. My dad went on road trips, and for whatever reason, he always came back with sardines. The bodegas near Alias sell them, so sometimes I get a can, and it reminds me of my dad.
What about dessert? Swedish Fish.
Big or little? Oh, it has to be the big ones. Another thing: popcorn with black pepper. A friend of mine in college introduced me to this. She told me it would change my life. Now I bring packets of black pepper to the movies.
Really.I swear to God. Try it.