Before Emeril had his bam!, chef Paul Prudhomme had everyone saying one of the biggest culinary catchphrases of the 1980s: blackened. Specifically blackened redfish, his signature dish, but soon chefs across the country were mimicking Prudhomme's modern Cajun techniques and blackening everything they could get their hands on.
The first American chef to helm the kitchen of New Orleans's famous Commander's Palace, Prudhomme departed to open his own destination restaurant, K-Paul's, in 1979. Five years later, he published the now-classic cookbook Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. Before long, Creole cuisine became as popular as California cuisine across the US and Prudhomme became one of the biggest cooking stars of the 80s.
Prudhomme passed away yesterday at the age of 75. Tributes to the beloved chef came from far and wide: Thomas Keller tweeted, "Chef #PaulPrudhomme you brought creole cuisine to life and will be deeply missed," while New Orleans radio host Poppy Tooker told NPR that "by eating local, seasonal, fresh, [Prudhomme] revolutionized the entire American food scene, not just Creole and Cajun."
Today at Rainbow Lodge, chef Kelly Boyd is paying tribute to the influential chef in his own way, by topping his weekly wild game burger with blackened onions. True to Prudhomme's style of cooking "local, seasonal, fresh," Boyd saves the trimmings from all of the wild game his kitchen goes through in a typical week, then grinds them into a special wild game burger that's served only on Fridays and only at lunch.
This week's burger tribute to chef Prudhomme will feature buffalo, venison and elk with a little pork belly in the blend, topped with blue cheese and those aforementioned blackened onions on a toasted Slow Dough bun. It's served with coarse mustard on the side and chips that are made in-house, like nearly everything else at Rainbow Lodge. The lunch special is $13 and Boyd has made 60 patties for today. Lunch starts at 11:30, and we suggest getting there promptly.
Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd., 713-861-8666, rainbow-lodge.com