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franklin county times

Honoring Dads: A Father's Day story

By By Robert St. John / food columnist
June 12, 2002
Robert St. John is the executive chef/owner of the Purple Parrot Caf, Crescent City Grill and Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg. He can be reached at stjohn@netdoor.com or at (601) 264-0672.
In the restaurant business, Father's Day comes and goes without fanfare.
Mother's Day is the busiest lunch shift of the year, but the third Sunday in June is like any other restaurant day.
Dads get the short end of the stick, holiday-wise. We spend Christmas putting together toys that have been sent in 846 pieces with instructions written only in Japanese, Latin and Chechnyan.
On the Fourth of July, we sweat it out at the barbecue grill. Easters are filled with pre-dawn egg-hiding excursions and Mother's Day is spent maxing out the Visa card in fine-dining restaurants.
A cynic would argue that Father's Day is nothing more than a holiday formed on the basis of adding new ties to an ever-growing collection of never-to-be-worn neckwear.
New ties, socks and cologne are nice, but what's the use? Why not move Father's Day to November and combine it with Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the ultimate dad holiday gorge yourself with turkey and dressing and then fall asleep while watching football. That's a REAL Father's Day.
This Father's Day will be a special one for me. It will be my fifth as an honoree, but only my second as a father of two.
Last year, on June 4, 2001, a future restaurateur entered this world. A restaurateur perhaps, a chef possibly, a writer hopefully, at the very least he will be a good restaurant customer.
He was born on a Monday at 8:08 am. They say Monday's child is fair of face, and believe me, Thomas Harrison St. John had a lot of face to be fair. He weighed in at 11 pounds 11 ounces, two weeks early. He was a hoss.
He was also purple. Not that reddish purple that babies become when they are mad and crying, but Barney-the-dinosaur purple, a bluish purple from head to toe. The color was due to a lack of oxygen in his body. His lungs were partially filled with fluid and couldn't distribute the necessary oxygen to other parts of his body.
As they pulled him from his mother, the neonatologist called me over to help clean him. They placed him on a small table in the corner of the operating room.
He was taking short staccato breaths. At first all I could think about was how he looked like a Japanese Sumo wrestler, a big purple Sumo wrestler. Seconds later, the only thoughts I could muster had to do with his physical condition and well-being.
Without warning, they rushed him to the nursery and placed him under a contraption that looked like an oversized plastic Tupperware cake cover.
He was force-fed humidified oxygen for what seemed like an eternity. The first four hours of my son's life were the most stressful I have ever endured. The threat of a transfer to the infant intensive care unit hung thick in the air.
Eventually, he began breathing normally and on his own.
Other than an occasional sniffle, his health has been good during his first year. He is still big. Very big. He's my big hoss with healthy lungs. And he can eat. Yes, my wife gave birth to Jethro Bodine. He will be a very good restaurant customer, indeed.
He has an infectious smile and a fun-loving manner that can win over the harshest kid critic. His big sister adores him and endures daily head buttings and hair-pulling episodes with the grace of a seasoned sibling. Did I mention that the boy can eat?
Nowadays, not one but two children run to greet me when I come home from work. They act as if I have been gone for weeks. "Daddy's home!" might be the two most beautiful words in the English language. I lumber awkwardly through the kitchen with each one attached to a leg, all of us laughing. That is what life is all about. That is what Father's Day is about. Its not about socks and ties and cologne. It's not even about fathers. It's about children.
On second thought, putting together toys, hiding Easter eggs and grilling burgers are pretty important assignments, after all.
This Sunday I will be counting my blessings and thanking the "man upstairs" for two healthy children with all 10 fingers, all 10 toes, healthy lungs and hearty appetites.
I will also be offering a prayer for all of the fathers in the infant ICU waiting room in hopes that they too will soon be holding their sons and daughters and celebrating new life and the pure joy that is the gift of parenthood.
Roquefort Tenderloin
6-8 ounce beef tenderloin filets
3 tablespoons Crescent City Grill Steak Seasoning
3 ounces clarified butter
3 ounces brandy
2 tablespoons shallots, small dice
1 cup veal demi-glace
4 ounces Roquefort or bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large skillet, heat butter over high heat. Season filets liberally with steak seasoning. Place filets in skillet three at a time and sear both sides. Repeat with the remaining three steaks.
Place browned filets on a baking sheet and place in oven. Turn down the heat on the skillet to low-medium. Add shallots and sautee two to three minutes. Deglaze with Brandy, stir well and add demi-glace. Add one-half of the bleu cheese and the cream and continue to stir well, cooking 4-5 minutes longer.
Remove from heat. When filets have reached medium rare, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and allow cheese to melt slightly. Place filets on six individual plates and top with equal amounts of the sauce.

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