What Jacques Lamarre Has Cooked Up...
It started two years ago with a mini peanut butter and bacon sandwich.
One bite of the unusual snack combo while waiting in line at a book-signing and Jacques Lamarre was hooked on the culinary chutzpah of Chef Rossi.
And once he read her “memoir with recipes,” The Raging Skillet, Lamarre knew he had found his next delicious subject for the stage.
Lamarre previously adapted Giulia Melucci’s memoir I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, which had its world premiere at Hartford’s TheaterWorks, and producing artistic director Rob Ruggiero was hungry for another audience-friendly work that combined theater and on-stage cooking.
But Lamarre was not interested in reheating his theatrical leftovers and wanted to do something more than a cooking demonstration with a dash of storytelling.
In Rossi — aside from Chef Rossi, she goes by the single monicker — Lamarre found an expanded story of rebellion, search for identity and, at the heart of it all, a compelling mother-daughter tale.
Rossi’s story begins when, after New Jersey police return a runaway daughter to her parents, they ship her off to live with a Hasidic rabbi in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Rossi’s New York City dreams begin.
The “Jewish, lesbian, punk-rock caterer,” says Lamarre, rebelled against her parents, her orthodox upbringing and, later, the male-dominated food industry where she finds her calling and becomes known as the caterer who thinks wildly outside the box.
“She’s been extremely successful at doing very odd catering gigs,” says Lamarre. “As she puts it, if someone calls up and says they’re getting married and want chicken cordon bleu, she hangs up on them.”
Since the story was published Mary Testa had to drop out of the show for a New York engagement.