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Chef Janos Wilder Brings
Baja Arizona to Paris

Chef Janos Wilder brings a taste of Tucson’s heritage to Paris.

June 27, 2017

Editor’s note: Tucson’s own Janos Wilder is in Paris, France to represent Tucson as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy at the UNESCO headquarters on June 29. For this one night, Chef Janos Wilder will cook a meal inspired by Tucson’s native plants, culture, and community. Live through Chef Janos’ adventures by reading his musings below, and check out the Around the Globe Culinary Tour right here in Tucson at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

Paris, Day One

Musings from Chef Janos:
And so it begins in Paris. Our first day, jet lagged by long travel in tight quarters bursts open with the beauty, sights and sounds of this enchanting city. Small cobblestone streets built a millennia ago wind their way by shops and cafes, churches and antiquities. And life is exuberant everywhere. Buskers play with a verve as if they were on Broadway as guitars, saxophones and accordions play the soundtrack for break dancers, marionettes and fire dancers entertaining the crowds by the Seine. As it turns out it’s Gay Pride Day in Le Marais – smiles everywhere-a community in full bloom.
Today is for walking around, getting the lay of the land and learning how to Uber, take the train and metro here. Sunday we’ll go to Giverny with Regis, Margaret and Max. We’re told the water lillies are in full regale.
Had a quick meeting with the embassy. We’ve purchased every bottle of Sotol in Paris. My prickly pears, cholla buds, saguaro blossom syrup and chiltepins have arrived in good shape. Monday morning and long days in the kitchen will arrive soon enough. Today is for Monet.

Paris, Day Two

Day two was a day for beauty- in surroundings and food.
Today, Sunday, was a day of inspiration. First found at Giverny, Monet’s home for 40 years. Visiting his ponds of water lilies and his gardens filled with the beauty he created, it’s humbling beyond words to realize that ideas and beauty changed the way we perceive the world. Others could spend a lifetime there without seeing or communicating the vision Monet shared with the world through his paintings.
Later that evening in a very small restaurant, Blue Valentine, on a non-descript street in a room without glamour or glitz we shared a meal that made me remember the clarity and nuance of French cooking in the hands of a talented chef with a single-minded approach. Ooh la la. This was a sublime meal.
Inspiration comes in many forms and has many mis-wives. For Monet it was his obsession with beauty and light and the drive to find a new way to describe what he saw. At Blue Valentine it was a chef’s drive to coax flavor and an original vision from exquisite products.
For me yesterday inspiration was found at the home of two masters.
Thank you to Regis, Margaret and Max for suggesting both and to Max for staying with it ‘til the end of a long day.
And while we’re at it here’s to Devon and his cohorts at GUT who are cooking a meal from their hearts and souls tonight at The Carriage House. If I could be anywhere else it would be there with them where the inspiration is overflowing.

Header image by Steven Meckler from the article “Becoming Janos” in our May/June 2016 issue. 

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