On HBO’s post-Katrina drama series Treme, creator David Simon highlights the struggles of many New Orleanians in the creative professions, among them novelists, DJs, musicians and chefs. And for the latter, especially, he’s done his homework, bringing on actual New Orleans chef Susan Spicer (Bayona, Mondo, Top Chef) to serve as a consultant on the show—the character of chef Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens) is loosely based on her—and Anthony Bourdain is one of the show’s writers.
During Season 3, in which Janette tries her hand on the culinary scene in New York, a number of extra-extra Special Guest Stars drop by for an all-star benefit dinner that feels more Bravo than HBO, including David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Jonathan Waxman and Alfred Portale. It’ll be interesting to see how Janette and her kitchen-mates react, as that sounds like a fairly terrifying situation for even the most seasoned chefs. The show’s casting director, interviewed in the behind-the-scenes footage, agrees.
“The gathering of great chefs isn’t the kind of casting I normally do,” casting director Alexa Fogel says in the HBO video. “And it fills your heart with complete terror when you see one of their names on the script.”
The show’s production team had some help crafting the complex and prep-heavy classic French dishes for the dinner, including salmon coulbiac and hare a la royale, a stewed hare dish that requires insanely precise butchering and what Dufresne calls “an acquired taste.” Soa Davies, a former member of the menu development team at Ripert’s Le Bernadin restaurant, served as the food stylist for the episode. In the video, she recounts her experiences trying to get various pâtés and terrines through airport security, a rather Herculean task for even the most seasoned of culinary experts.
Treme returns to HBO this Sunday, September 23, but in the meantime, you can watch the production team cook up some classic French dishes and share them with celebri-chefs below.