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BLACK CHEFS IN HISTORY: PATRICK CLARK

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During America’s celebration of Black History Month, I’d like to reflect a bit, giving honor and credit to some of the pioneers of the culinary game. Their consummate skills and influence are both undeniable and largely unknown.  Last week, we looked at chef Hercules, the Black chef for our first president, George Washington; this week, we’re honoring chef Patrick Clark.

Recognized as one of the best chefs of his time, Patrick Clark rose to fame in the early 1980s. Growing up in the borough of Brooklyn, NY, Clark was initially inspired to cook by his father, who was also a chef. Clark enrolled in the hotel and restaurant program at New York City Technical Community College and refined his skills through stints at restaurants in London and France.  While abroad, he was able to master French cuisine, and successfully inject it with the flavors who knew growing up in his father’s kitchen.

As one of the first Black celebrity chefs, Clark broke out of the mold by focusing solely on soul food at a time when Black chefs were mostly known by their White counterparts for frying chicken and making collard greens. Bruce Wynn, a young Black pastry chef who worked with Clark, was quoted by the New York Times as saying: ”He lived the flavor that he grew up on, and he spread that flavor.  He was very demanding, sometimes harsh, but he was constant. And the flavor never wavered.”

Throughout his career, Clark received several honors, including the Grand Master Chef Award in 1988 and 1989, along with being named Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Region at the esteemed annual James Beard Awards.  He was well-respected and regarded by the Black and White culinary worlds alike as a dynamic, genius of sorts in the kitchen, as evident in a tribute book entitled, Cooking with Patrick Clark: A Tribute to a Man and His Cuisine (a must-read for all cooks).  Like many of the greats, his life was cut short at the age of 42, due to congestive heart failure.

Chef Patrick, thank you for serving as a role model to me and a host of other aspiring cooks and chefs. You’ve left a permanent mark on the culinary world and you are missed!

Patrick Clark’s Lemon Pudding Cake with Fresh Raspberries
Ingredients
4 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
4 cups fresh raspberries
8 sprigs fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Whip the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage. Add the flour and mix well. Whisk in the lemon juice, salt, and milk until completely combined. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, and whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture. Pour the batter into a parchment lined 9 by 13-inch cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the pudding cake and flip it onto a flat surface. Cut into 8 (3-inch) circles with a ring cutter.

To prepare the sauce: Reserve 16 raspberries for a garnish. Puree the remaining raspberries with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar for 2 minutes or until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

To serve, spoon some of the raspberry sauce in the center of each plate and top with a circle of pudding cake. Place 2 raspberries and a mint sprig in the center of each cake.

About Chef Cordell

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Chef Cordell passionately pursues educating others how to build healthy cooking and eating habits for life via cooking classes, grocery store tours, kitchen makeovers, public speaking, corporate wellness training, restaurant consulting, etc. Through his nonprofit work, he looks to offer community based solutions for education of,  and access to, healthier food solutions.

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