William Dissen and the butterflies

Dissen’s kitchen: Your last meal, for some, is going to be a meal of gluttony. For others, it's going to be a lifetime of experiences. Photo courtesy of William Dissen

For his prospective last meal, William Dissen, chef and owner of The Market Place, doesn't want to overdo it. "I could have listed off a dozen things that I had to stuff in,” he says. “But, for me, I'd want to savor each and every one of them — take my time with it. I thought about a lot of crazy, exotic stuff, throw some seared, grade-A foie gras in there from Hudson Valley, all of this extravagant stuff. But … this is your last meal right? There's a lot of flavors and things that you have created memories for in your head.

For me, eating Kumamoto oysters for the first time was one of those experiences. When I first slurped one down I thought — this is what an oyster is supposed to taste like. There are definitely different avenues to take, but I think, to each their own, right? Your last meal, for some, is going to be a meal of gluttony. For others, it's going to be a lifetime of experiences."

Course 1: Kumamoto oysters on the half shell with some caviar, a squeeze of lemon and a bottle of 1928 Krug champagne.
Course 2: A bowl of homemade fried tortilla chips, some heirloom-tomato salsa fresca and some fresh guacamole, a couple of Pacificos with lime. "Kick back, enjoy."
Course 3: A dry-aged, wood-grilled rib-eye, rubbed with sea salt and fresh black pepper, and crispy duck-fat fries with roasted-garlic aioli. And yes, I'm going to say it, a little Heinz ketchup. I spent my weekends in Pittsburgh; I put ketchup on everything. My dad likes to say that Heinz is a food group. And then a fresh butter-lettuce salad, some shaved radish, real simple vinaigrette and maybe some Roquefort cheese on there. Simple and bright and fresh. Oh, and I'm not sure which one, but I'd take a nice Amarone or Barolo with my steak. A nice Italian red — something deep and dry.
Course 4: I would reach out to Pierre Hermé and get some of his fine truffles and wash that down with a little Pappy Van Winkle 20-year bourbon and then take me to the electric chair. I'm ready to go.

Who with? Oh gosh, is there a maximum capacity at this dinner? Obviously, I'd have my wife there. If it's my last meal, do I want a bunch of foodies around just talking food the whole time? I don't think so. I want to be just enjoying the moment, being in bliss.

Where? When I lived in Santa Barbara, there was this beach just north of town known as Butterfly Beach. There's this preserve with a cove where the Monarchs migrate to, and three trees that they all stop on. It's the most transcendental, eerie yet beautiful thing I've ever seen.

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