True, we only heard it over the phone, but we’re pretty sure that Tom Valenti’s devilish, frequent giggle comes with a toothy grin. After all, the Ouest chef does look exactly like a jolly pirate, with his permanent facial scruff and long, wild locks. (The occasional bandana helps, too.) Valenti seemed quite tickled about the prospect of a last meal, and we weren’t shocked when his menu turned out to be only slightly decadent and very simple, focusing, as he does in the kitchen, on “perfection” more than pretension.
So, is this like: You’re going to the electric chair, and what do you eat first?
Yes, pretty much. Although, if you want, you can specify a different method of dying. Nah, electric chair is what comes to mind.
And you can have anything in the world. I know exactly what I’d have. I would start with some perfect oysters. Preferably off the coast of Normandy—as long as we’re tripping. And some caviar. Just some perfect oysters and caviar. Then I’d have a perfectly roasted chicken, from Bresse. I’d have that with some pasta with white truffles and some Reggiano Parmigiano.
Is the chicken on the same plate with the pasta? Yeah, I think so. I would literally pour the juice out of the cavity of the chicken and mix it in with the pasta.
Yum. Yuh-huh! After that, just a simple green salad with hearts of endive. And I think I’d want to finish with a perfect piece of cheese, like a perfectly ripe Tomme de Savoie.
Any sweets? No, cheese and salad is my dessert of choice.
What about booze? Oh, yuh-huh! I’d definitely start with a white Burgundy, Le Montrachet or a Meursault. Then, lemme think . . . I could have any bottle of wine?
Any. Hmm . . . I’m thinking vintages now. I probably would opt for a ’61 or ’66 Bourdeaux. A ’61 Petrus.
OK, so any particular setting you’d want to be in? I would like to be outdoors. As long as it’s with my wife, I don’t care.
Aww. One more thing: Would you do the cooking? Um, preferably not! I would defer to one of the great chefs. A chef who was a friend—that would be the best.
I want that chicken-juice truffle pasta right now. Me, too! I’m ready! Well—not ready for my last meal, but ready to eat.
And drink. Yuh-huh!