Teaching Taste

By Sylvan Goldberg May 19, 2009 Published in the February 2006 issue of Portland Monthly

They meet late at night in a secret underground chamber: a cabal of our town’s top chefs, plotting how they intend to, shall we say, "enlighten" our unschooled palates.

OK, not yet. That we know of. But Pascal Chureau, chef and co-owner of Lake O’s Italian hideaway Tucci and the newly opened Pearl bistro Fenouil, might not scoff at the idea.

"There are some good chefs here, and they’re doing a pretty good job of training the people," says Chureau. "It’s really up to chefs and restaurant owners to keep food the way it’s supposed to be."

At Fenouil, Chureau showcases the cuisine from his native Tours, France, including frog legs, escargots and wild boar. But he can’t yet push the boundaries as far as he’d like.

"It’s hard sometimes when a customer comes in and says, ‘I don’t want to eat this because the flavor is too strong,’" Chureau laments. "But that’s the way it’s supposed to taste."

For now, he can work on converting patrons to his aliment vérité. "The weirdest French dishes that you don’t see much around Portland, like tripe and head cheese–it’s worth a shot."

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