As printed in the St. Mary's Enterprise on July 14, 2004
"Leonardtown Chef picked to join elite culinary peers"
Academie Culinaire de France outside of his Leonardtown restaurant
There were only nine names.
Nine chefs were listed on the program as new inductees into the Academie Culinaire de France at the annual United States' meeting for the world's top chefs, held in San Francisco.
The program also described the features of the six-hour-long dinner that took the elite of the cooking world from cocktails to after-dinner chocolate and cognac.
Four of the nine new inductees in this year's program were associated with restaurants in Los Angeles. The other chefs were from restaurants in San Francisco, San Diego, New York and Providence, R.I.
And then, there was the chef located worlds away from these metropolitan locations - Chef Loic Jaffres of Cafe des Artistes in Leonardtown.
For Jaffres, induction into the Academie Culinaire de France is an honor that he believes puts him one step closer to a dream he's had since he was a teenager. He hopes the recognition will help him reach the designation that is the top title for professionals in his field.
"It's a huge deal," he said, sitting at one of the tables at his restaurant on a recent afternoon. "For me, it is the last step before becoming a Master Chef."
The 50-year-old chef was born in Morocco in North Africa to parents from the Brittany region of France. He knew he wanted to be a master chef since he was 16, he said, and he prepared to devote himself to the art and science of cooking, he said.
"We spend our life in the kitchen," he said. "You have to have the love for it."
Jaffres' subsequent studies and work have included an apprenticeship in St. Jean d"angely, France, as well as varied work experiences at eight locations in France, three restaurants in Washington, D.C., and three metro-area restaurants. He has worked with a number of world-renowned chefs, including chef to the Clinton's White House and the Watergate's chef.
At the end of 1999, Jaffres and his wife, Karleen, opened Cafe des Artistes in Leonadtown.
Jaffres' new distinction will not cause him to raise prices at the local restaurant, he said, "No," he said laughing. "But I'm going to raise my voice in the kitchen, yes."
As a member of the academy, Jaffres is considered a kind of ambassador to others about the best of food preparation. The academy's goals are to develop the culinary and pastry arts, promote haute cuisine, maintain the prestige of the profession and update old recipes, according to information included on a web site (http://www.parisgourmet.com/jwl.html) that describes the academy.
"We try to preach and share the French culinary art," Jaffres said of academy members.
Customers at Cafe des Artistes may notice a few changes at the restaurant as a result of Jaffres new association. They may, for instance, see that the staff pays more attention to the aesthetics of the plate, he said. He also expects to be changing the menu more often than in the past.
Philippe Laurier, cooperate pastry chef for Paris Gourmet in New Jersey, is also a member of the Academie Culinaire de France. He described the honor conferred to Jaffres in being inducted into the academy during a telephone interview.
"It's not a big deal. It's a huge deal," Laurier said. "It is one of the best awards you can get. You don't ask for it. You are recognized by your peers."
Karleen Jaffres accompanied her husband to the meeting in San Francisco. She was awed by the level of professionals who attended, she said. "My nerves were so wracked because of the prestige of all these chefs," she said.
By Susan Craton