So, yesterday I was with our culinary team working on a recipe that used to be served in our restaurants: Mussels au Gratin. The original recipe was developed back at my Inman Square restaurant by a French woman by the name of Jackie. It was a classic French recipe that I was having trouble trying to recall from memory since it had disappeared from the Legal menu years ago.
We were getting closer after a number of trials, and I suppose I could have cheated and looked it up in a classic French cookbook, but instead it dawned on me that what this recipe needed was The Ted Williams Effect.
Mussels with garlic butter are a home run of flavor
When I announced this to the team everyone looked at me like I had two heads. “Do you mean it needs to be a home run?” asked one chef.
“Do you mean it needs to be a ‘hit’?” asked another. I replied to them both that wasn’t what I was implying and explained The Ted Williams Effect had to do with the man and his particular tastes.
Back in the early 80s at our Park Square restaurant, Ted Williams happened to come in mid-afternoon. As a huge Red Sox fan, my eyes popped out of my head. I greeted him, and when he asked if I’d join him for lunch, I did what anyone would do when an all-time baseball great offers you that kind of opportunity: replied yes without the slightest hesitation. What transpired during that lunch was one of my fondest memories of being in the restaurant business.
“One of my fondest memories in the restaurant business”
Two hours of great baseball stories from one of the most prolific hitters in the game, this was the stuff of dreams! As I recall what was ordered, Ted selected Swordfish, which in and of itself wasn’t unusual, but the way he asked for it to be prepared was.
“I’d like you to put a lot of garlic butter on it,” he said, “and then I’d like you to put more garlic on it, and then I want you to put more garlic on it, more on there than on anything you ever have!”
Well, when one of baseball’s all-time greats, who happens to be a Hall of Fame Fisherman and one of the most decorated fighter pilots of the Marine Corps puts in an order like that, you tend to pay attention, which brings me back to testing our new Mussels au Gratin recipe. While we almost nailed it, the thing it was missing was, you may have guessed, MORE garlic!
Coming soon to Roger’s Fish Co.: Mussels Au Gratin
So when you taste my latest rendition of Mussels au Gratin, which will be available very soon, I hope you remember that Hall of Famer Ted Williams influenced this dish, as well as a number of others, but those are stories for future days. 😉