Chef John Besh signs copies of his new book at The Accidental Chef.

Restaurateur, Iron Chef competitor, Louisiana native, husband and father Chef John Besh made two appearances in Lafayette this past Saturday. The first was a book signing at Barnes & Noble. The second was at The Accidental Chef Cooking School where The Ind was lucky enough to have a front — okay, second — row seat.

With his son Jack working as his assistant, Besh spoke at length about the theme of his new book, My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking. “It came about after I made the mistake of questioning my wife about what she was feeding our children,” said Besh. “Gentlemen — don’t ever do that.” This started Besh thinking about how people need to come back to the table in order not just to spend more time with their kids but to teach them how to cook. Besh focused on how to make one dish, like chicken, stretch out into several meals for cost and time efficiency.

With the crowd watching, Besh made his version of Italian wedding soup and served it to the everyone. It turns out Besh married his wife Jennifer after she became his penpal when he was a Marine in the Gulf War. Soon after he came back they married and now have four sons.

In person, Besh is as kind as you would hope from someone who is fast becoming on track to the new career of “celebrity chef.” With sandy hair and light eyes with tanned skin, Besh looks more like a Idahoan ski instructor than a James Beard Award winner and someone consistently winning or nominated for culinary awards across the nation. The emphasis Besh places on family is not a put-on but a sincere and genuine reflection of his own cherished Louisiana childhood and his wish to create memories for his own kids.

Besh has six restaurants under his tutelage. His cooking show, John Besh’s New Orleans, airs on LPB. The Accidental Chef is at 406 Garfield St. in downtown Lafayette and teaches both individual and group cooking classes and parties. Reach Accidental Chef at 849-6837.

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