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Simply refreshing Gazpacho

By J.B. Blocker
   When my eat healthy gene kicks in I have a tendency to go on auto-pilot when I grocery shop around the fresh produce section.  
  That is when the spirit of my recently passed chef mentor, the great French Master Chef Jean La Font speaks to me.
  “Gazpacho”, he whispers!
It has become one of my go-to dishes. My really healthy comfort food. It gets even better on day two and three but it rarely lasts that long. I don't even use a bowl. I fill a mug and add some chilled shrimp if I have it ready.

  I use a recipe the great chef Jean LaFont had shared with me when I was the chef consultant for The Shrimp Station, an indoor shrimp farm south of San Antonio.
   For much of 2007, I drove all over Texas from DFW to Austin and San Antonio, down to the coast, across to the greater Houston area and back with the company van filled with iced live indoor-grown shrimp.
  Great chefs could hardly wait to play with shrimp that was clean and still flopping in the ice.
   I supplied All-Star chefs as we prepared the shrimp in exotics ways in DFW at the Mansions of Turtle Creek, the Crescent, the Adolphus, and on and on.
  Country club chefs were eager to play with the various sizes we offered as were dozens of the Boutique hotel chefs, and many of the nameplate chefs with their signature restaurants.

  I needed to show up with my own recipes so I turned to Chef La Font who always welcomed me and enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He shared methods, styles, and recipes from a grand old recipe book that now sits at the Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas. I drank in his stories and skills with awe and pride. After over 20 years, I felt like part of his family.

   The man who was recruited by J.D. Rockefeller from the Savoy in London to open the Rainbow Room is considered one of the Jewels of Dallas Fine Dining.
  For those of you who remember his work at the renowned OZ, the Pyramid Room at the Fairmont, and the Old Warsaw know of his inspirational cuisine.
  Many of Dallas great current chefs sing his praises.
  In his honor, I wrote a memorial for his friends, fans, and family. The following is the link: In memory of Chef Jean Edmond La Font

Simple is often best!
  By now I know all the ingredients to buy. An hour later or so later my veggies are lovingly chopped as I recalled standing next to the master as he repeated a mantra I had heard often.
  They try too hard! They think too much! They ruin the beauty of simplicity! This shrimp is so clean and pure, it almost needs nothing.” the chef would say as we prepped and prepared dishes. This is from the man who oversaw the Inauguration Dinner for President George H.W. Bush. He ran the kitchens of the Helmsly Palace and the Playboy Mansion in Chicago. Great names sought him out from New York to San Francisco.
  He was my friend!
  I am honored to share this simple recipe. So, in his honor, I will share his recipe and maybe you might remember to invite me over.
  I am a bachelor after all.

Simply Perfect Gaspacho 
This makes a great Shrimp Cocktail!              
Chef Jean LaFont via J.B. Blocker

Vegetable Ingredients:
2         Avocados, small cubes
1         Small Red Onions
1         Green Bell Peppers
1         Jalapenos
1         Med. Cucumbers
1/2      Bunch of Parsley
1/2      Bunch of Celery
2 tbs.   Chopped Garlic
Chop these other 7 ingredients finely and evenly and place in a 1gallon container

Liquid Ingredients:
½ gal.    Tomato Juice
¼ cup    Lemon Juice
¼ cup    Lime Juice
2Tbs.     Red Wine Vinegar
Stir liquids into the chopped vegetables gently and allow marinating overnight in the refrigerator.

Salt lightly to taste.

Steam fresh cleaned shrimp and coarse chop. Chill.
add to each bowl as preferred just before serving.
- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.

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