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Lewd Food: Food as Foreplay with
Chef Jacques Haeringer
at L’Auberge Chez Francois

By Jordan Wright
March 2009

Photo Roy Wright

Photo Roy Wright

The importance of a restaurant’s ambience can never be overstated. If upon entering a restaurant one feels transported to Russia, Germany or The Forbidden City without ever showing a passport…so much the better…especially if it’s only a quick Metro ride or few gallons drive.

When I stepped into the ultra-romantic L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, VA last week for chef d’amour Jacques Haeringer’s dinner and gourmet cooking class, I felt at once in the province of Alsace. For those unfamiliar, this quintessential auberge is a 30-minute drive from downtown Washington. With its open hearth, copper bed warmers and iconic roosters, reigning over the rustic chic décor, one is instantly in maman’s kitchen in the French countryside, enjoying her gracious food and hospitality.

Opened in 1954 in downtown DC, where it soon became one of the city’s great French watering holes, Papa Haeringer later moved and transformed it into an authentic Alsatian-style inn situated on six acres, where it has consistently garnered high accolades as a gastronomic destination.

Chef Jacques’s presentation of “Lewd Food: Food as Foreplay”, an epicurean adventure for lovers, is a non-passport experience that provided me with a transcendent Gallic moment giving solace to soul and palate. Part of an ongoing series held at the inn, his dining demos been chronicled monthly on the nationally syndicated Food and Wine Radio Network and devotees have followed the ebullient chef on CNN, ABC, Fox News, The History Channel and his own popular cooking show, “Two for Tonight” on PBS. He has written two books, “Two For Tonight”, with seductively delicious dinner-for-two recipes, and “The Chez Francois Cookbook”, a primer on Alsatian cooking that showcases his talents and recounts tales at the inn.

On this night a special meat-centric class featured Wagyu (we know it as Kobe) beef …as steak tartare, tri-tip and flat iron steak. Jacques, who would like to “be a Kobe cow, because they are given sake, beer and a massage by scantily-clad Japanese girls”, likes to spice up his show with references to the aphrodisiac qualities and historical influences of his ingredients, kept his “students” rapt with his amusing stories and witticisms. He knows the best way to a lover’s heart is with food, humor and romance, a la Francais.

Between courses the evening’s wine expert, Matthew Tucker, of The Country Vintner, introduced the seated guests to paired wines from Australia. Notable was a cabernet, “Sarah’s Blend 2007 from Marcus Phillips, with its intriguing 18th century-styled illustration of a fantasy creature, half-eagle half-kangaroo they call the “Roogle”, and a Lengs and Cooter non-vintage sparkling shiraz blend. These shirazs from Australia are becoming quite popular and paired correctly are fun, affordable and delicious.

Chef Jacques will continue his five-course cooking and dining series throughout the season. Go to for information on how to register…and let the romance begin!

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