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.