Dennis Rakers: Luther Acres’ hidden gem

By on March 18, 2015

Luther Acres has been hiding one of their chefs, Dennis Rakers. He and chef Quinn Hackers won second place earlier this month in the Iron Chef Cocalico. Hackers got the glory, held the trophy, and was interviewed and photographed for the paper. He did a great job. Rakers was his sous chef in the back, out of the spotlight doing an equal amount of work. The competitors were given a basket of surprise ingredients. One ingredient was eggs which stumped the other two head chefs, but Rakers had a quick idea.

“My experience with spaetzle goes back 40 years ago when I first started out at age 18 at a place called Andre’s Swiss Chalet which was on Long Island in New York,” said Rakers. “We had a dish that was called emince de veau zurichoise. It consisted of sautéed strips of veal with paprika, mushrooms, shallots, with white wine, cream and demi-glaze. We sold a lot of this because the spaetzle was the side to this dish. You would add the spaetzle to the sauce and the spaetzle would soak into it. People would come from all over for this meal. I used to make gallons of spaetzle a week to keep up with the demand of this dish.”

Rakers, with his reserved air and blue eyes seems like “one of us.” Then he opens his mouth and you think &tstr; The Godfather &tstr; with a hushed but deliberate voice. But then I haven’t been out of my Green Acres farm for a while, so it’s fun to imagine when I meet someone not from here.

“I grew up watching the World Trade Center going up right outside my high school window,” said Rakers.

He then worked at a restaurant in the Hamptons called Berclaz, where many celebrities came to eat his spaetzle including Bianca Jagger, who would ride in on her bicycle, David Letterman, Howard Stern, Alan Alda and George Plimpton.

“We had famous clientele that would come in,” said Rakers. “Calvin Klein and his wife, Kelly, would come in on a weekly basis. He used to tell me that this was his favorite meal and favorite restaurant.”

Warning: If you don’t want your childhood ruined, don’t read the next paragraph.

“Captain Kangaroo was always kind of incognito,” said Rakers. “He didn’t want anyone to know who he was. He bought me a couple drinks at the bar. You wouldn’t know it was him &tstr; he was very business-like. He drank a lot. So I got drunk with Captain Kangaroo.”

Dennis Rakers, chef at Luther Acres, displays two dishes that made him wildly popular with New York celebrities in the 1970s: emince de veau zurichoise and spaetzle. (Photo by Michele Walter Fry)

Dennis Rakers, chef at Luther Acres, displays two dishes that made him wildly popular with New York celebrities in the 1970s: emince de veau zurichoise and spaetzle. (Photo by Michele Walter Fry)

Spaetzle

Ingredients

1 cup flour

¼ cup whole milk

2 whole eggs

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions

  1. Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  2. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix until smooth.
  4. Drop dough while grating through a colander, large-holed grater, or spaetzle maker into a pot of simmering water.
  5. Cook 5 to 8 minutes and drain well.
  6. Sauté cooked spaetzle in butter. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top and serve.

Recipe from Dennis Rakers

 

 

Emince De Veau a La Creme

Ingredients

1 lb. veal cutlet, thinly sliced

¼ lb. thinly sliced prosciutto

2 cups thinly sliced

mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon finely

chopped shallot

½ cup dry white wine

1-½ cups heavy cream

salt and pepper

 

Directions

  1. Julienne veal and prosciutto.
  2. Heat the butter and when hot (but not browning) add the veal and stir rapidly.
  3. Salt and pepper. Add the prosciutto and stir fry briefly. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat.
  4. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until wilted. Add the shallots and cook about a minute, then add the wine.
  5. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely reduced, then add the cream.
  6. Cook about 5 minutes over high heat, stirring. Add the meats and juices.
  7. Combine and cook quickly until piping hot.
  8. Check seasoning; salt and pepper as desired.
  9. Serve immediately with rosti potatoes (traditional) or egg noodles.

Recipe from food.com

 

This meal is heavenly! The best thing I’ve eaten in a while.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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