Director William Brown grew up in a family where wonderful ingredients were used regularly to create fresh, great tasting recipes.
"I grew up in West Virginia. My father's family had farms and they cured their own ham and grew their own vegetables," he said, adding they did all these things before it was even considered cool, trendy or important.
Brown is the director and co-author with Doug Frew, of "To Master the Art," a play about the life of Julia and Paul Child. Broadway in Chicago and Chicago Commercial Collective are presenting the Timeline Theatre Company hit production at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place through Oct. 20. FYI: (800) 775-2000 or visit BroadwayInChicago.com
When Brown first traveled to Europe in the late '90s, he said he became even more enamored of the culinary craft.
"I was dazzled by the food – a handful of perfect ingredients, perfectly prepared. I suddenly understood what was so wonderful about the food my father’s family served us when we visited their farms in Virginia. Even the prosciutto di Parma reminded me of the hams they cured."
Brown had his first taste of penne with vodka sauce at a little restaurant in Florence and to this day, he said, that's one of his favorite pastas. He'll often prepare the dish.
"I take great comfort in this dish, at home and when I’m working out of town and don’t have much of a kitchen. All it takes is a pot, a pan, and less than 30 minutes."
Another recipe that's become a favorite is Julia Child's scrambled eggs. The eggs are shown being created on stage during "To Master the Art." Brown said he also makes a "terrific roast chicken." It's the perfect meal when one needs a bit of comfort food, he said.
"It's sublime. I use olive oil, rosemary, lemon and sea salt."
Brown said he was indeed influenced in the cooking craft by Julia Child and watched her regularly.
"She taught me how to cook. She said 'You can do this' and I believed her. She had such joy. It was fun watching that show."
The following is Child's recipe which is featured in the play.
Scrambled Eggs from "To Master the Art"
Early in the play Julia is asked by her great teacher, Chef Max Bugnard, to make Oeufs Brouillés – scrambled eggs. She does everything wrong. He then walks her through this recipe. Everyone connected with the production now makes their eggs this way. The eggs will be almost custard-like. And delicious. This recipe is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
Makes 2 servings
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cream
Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS: Beat the eggs with a little salt and the water for about 20 seconds, until blended. Add butter to small skillet, set over low heat, and add eggs. Stir slowly for 2 to 3 minutes. The eggs will begin to thicken into a custard. Begin to stir more rapidly, being careful not to overcook. When eggs become creamy, soft curds take off the heat and add the cream to stop the cooking. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.