Normand Leclair is one of Rhode Island’s legendary chefs. He was in the restaurant business for 50 years, and that included owning the famous Red Rooster Tavern in
North Kingstown and the Pump House in Peace Dale. And of course, he has many stories to tell. Like the time the flamboyant pianist Liberace came in for dinner and asked where he could shop for antiques. Normand gave him a list of local dealers. The next day all the shop owners called Normand to thank him – Liberace had purchased everything they had for sale. He was opening an antiques store in Las Vegas and needed to stock it.
Normand is now retired but hardly idle; he teaches cooking classes and prepares dinner parties in private homes. Normand divides his time between Kingston, and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, where he has a condo. “A couple of years ago, I had 17 people here in my condo for Thanksgiving dinner,” he says. “Really tight, but lots of fun.”
This year Normand will spend Thanksgiving at the home of longtime friends, some of whom worked with him at the Red Rooster. “Everyone is bringing something,” he says. “I’m bringing a Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie, a dessert we used to serve at the Red Rooster during the fall season. I also like to make my stuffing the French way with ground pork, Jimmy Dean sausage and mashed potato.”
During his years as a restaurant chef, Normand penned three cookbooks: Chicken Expressions, Seafood Expressions and Culinary Expressions. Normand’s first two books were aimed at helping the home cook prepare delicious dishes for dinner parties with recipes that could be pre-assembled and whisked into the oven with no further attention, allowing the host and hostess to enjoy being with their guests.
Culinary Expressions is a more advanced collection of recipes that help a good cook become a truly great cook in the home kitchen. This colorful appetizer recipe is from that cookbook.
See Normand's recipe for Salmon Pate on the next page.