“Food of Love”, Chef Anne Kearney’s motto, says it all, keeping the chef and her staff ever mindful of their mission to create culinary excellence in every dish that is placed before a guest.
For Chef Kearney, the words are close to her heart. Her passion for culinary perfection and the “sense of place” she feels in the kitchen, will always be the cornerstones of her dedication to her chosen career. A native of Ohio, Chef got her early training at Greater Cincinnati Culinary Arts Academy then made her way into the culinary scene in New Orleans. And what a way she made, with stints as a sous chef for some of the most acclaimed chefs in the big easy, and eventually buying the restaurant Peristyle, after the owner passed away. Kearney’s hard work, incredible mentors and her respect for food and proper preparation skyrocketed her to the top of the culinary world. Her career has been documented with a cover of Food & Wine Magazine, when she was declared one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America,” four Best Chef Awards from the James Beard Foundation, a Best Chef award by American Express, a feature in Gourmet Magazine and writing credits for Emeril Lagasse’s cookbook recipes and scripts for his tv show.
After all this success, a medical crisis made Kearney rethink her life. In 2002, a brain aneurysm ruptured and after several more incidents and surgery, Kearney and business partner and husband Tom Sand returned home to the Miami Valley. It allowed her to spend time with her family caring for her father in his last years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer disease. Tom and Anne also began a small farm, Two Small Tomatoes, on the Kearney family property in Lebanon. Kearney sells her wares at Centerville Farmers Market, the second Thurs of each month from 1-6pm . Here’s an excerpt from her weekly Rue Dumaine email:
“This week there will be corn** bisque, black bean-corn** salsa, gingered carrot** soup, white bean-arugula** dip, zucchini**- chocolate chip muffins…. just to name a few. She’ll be making breakfast bars in the am and Tom will be in the RUE kitchen tomorrow creating a huge batch of his tasty granola, which makes me very happy, it is so good and good for you. I am bringing along more product to this months market as I hope to satisfy the demand; don’t let me down, come on out and see what your local community has to offer.” (The ** refer to locally grown ingredients)
In 2007 with her health under control Anne and her husband Tom refurbished a failed asian bistro in what has now become one of Dayton’s hottest restaurants. Rue Dumaine was named after the street that Peristyle, her New Orleans place was on. Fueled by Anne’s love of fresh ingredients and her own more casual interpretation of french classics, Dayton diners have felt the love and are giving it right back, making reservations very much suggested for a meal at this Washington Township eatery. Or each Friday you can have lunch from 11:30am – 1:30pm.
And now – here’s Chef Anne Kearney’s answers to our 10 questions:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Local produce, I am intoxicated with the abundance that the Miami Valley provides for Rue Dumaine.
What ingredient do you dread?
Frozen fish, it is sent away from here.
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
Meadowlark; Wiley and her crew rock. (You can read Wiley’s 10 ?’s here)
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Oh, please buy local.
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
John Neal, my mentor-I would love him to taste how my food has progressed thru the years. He would tell me and I would benefit from that. (Kearney went to New Orleans to work under the late chef John Neal at the acclaimed Bistro at the Maison de Ville Hotel. When Chef Neal left to open Peristyle in late 1991, he took Kearney along as his Sous chef. Kearney credits Neal for her tutelage in classic French cooking techniques, as well as perfecting her own palate and prompting her discovery of new tastes and the depths of flavor.
“His passion for his work was so real, it was almost tangible,” says Kearney. “I will always hold with me the image of John hovering over a tiny pot that held what would become a perfect pink pea risotto. He would stir and taste, stir and taste, until it was absolutely perfect.”)
James J. Kearney, my father- He loved my food and he also loved that I found a joy in cooking. Paula Wolfert, one of my idols-I have established much of my culinary foundation on her stories and research. She opened my eyes to the cuisine of southwestern France. Robert Heisser, my maternal grandfather- He build and ran a lodge in upstate Michigan, where cooked a sit-down dinner for the guests every night. I think he would dig the fact that I cook for a living.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Chef John Besh. He has taken the reign of Culinary King of New Orleans, Louisiana actually. I respect his efforts and love his food.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
I attend Pilates class at Practice. Seasonally weed out at the farmJ, there are some serious vegetables growing out there. I cannot wait to cook them up for all.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
Kitchen disaster- The freezers went out 1 hour before my second James Beard dinner was to begin, we were serving baked Alaska that evening. At least I was in NYC, it was a tough push but we made it happen.
Lucky break- I was blessed to discover at a young age that cooking was my thing. It has taken me to far reaches and brings me joy daily.
Insider Info about Rue Dumaine’s Never Advertised, Always Sold Out Cooking Classes from the Chef herself:
“I am blessed to be sold out thru November (1 a month)and I try to take December off for holiday events. 1class a month since last July:). The classes are a great deal of fun: once the class is sold out I send out a questionnaire to all students with relevant questions regarding each persons likes, dislikes, allergies. Any food memories, techniques, or flavors that they would like to have incorporated into the menu. I post a list of seasonal ingredients and have them rank their preferences. Once I receive the completed questionnaires I begin to write the menu. Once written Michael pairs wine and it is then sent out for student approval, once approved I begin to write recipes. The day before, I prep and organize the recipes. The day of I and one of my kitchen crew set up 4 stations in the kitchen, one for each of the cooks and their assigned course. At 3pm the cook half of each couple show up and we sit down and go thru the packet of recipes, I assign 1 dish to each student. A kitchen tour is given, chefs jacket and linen apron (theirs to keep) are put on and the cooking begins. By 6pm (ideally:)) we are ready to roll out hors d’ourvres and sparkling for all. After a few minutes of down time we move to the dining room and all take a seat at a table for 10. The student who prepped the first course goes into the kitchen with me and we execute the first course. Once all plated we run the food out to the table take a seat and the student describes the dish and speaks of any challenges or funny occurrences. Michael or Evan pour the wine and talk of the pairing. This continues on for 3 more courses. They all go home full, with a packet of recipes, a menu, 1 linen apron and 1 bottle of wine from the evenings menu. All that for $300 a couple.”
If you’d like to get on the list to become a future student send contact them through their website and Rue Dumaine will contact you as they develop classes for 2011.