ODESSA PIPER Chef-Proprietor
1976: Piper establishes L'Etoile, a fine dining
restaurant with seasonal menus inspired by the Midwest region,
using organic local ingredients.
Odessa grew up on the New England coast in a large family with
a variety of food traditions. Her education continued after high
school as she farmed in Canaan, N.H. with a small group dedicated
to sustainable agriculture. In 1969 Odessa moved to Madison, Wisconsin,
where she helped her mentor JoAnna Guthrie open a restaurant that
featured Organic produce grown on JoAnna's farm in Wisconsin's
Kickapoo River valley. In her travels between the farm and restaurant
Odessa discovered the area's native hickory nuts, morels and wild
plums. Her excitement with the exceptional quality and diversity
of the region's foods inspired her to create menus ever more reliant
on season and locality. This was the impetus to open her own restaurant
in 1976 which she named L'Etoile, in reference to the culinary
'mother tongue' of her midwest interpretations.
The local Farmer's Market outside L'Etoile's front door continues
to provide inspiration and raw material for Odessa and her staff.
In that spirit, every menu at L'Etoile opens with the dedication:
"Choosing lovingly grown food from within our region helps to
hold all the communities of life together. This is the happy result
of sustainable agriculture. We thank you for supporting the farmers
who supply L'Etoile, and for appreciating their commitment to
these patient arts."
Madeleine's teaching career began as a chef-instructor of classic
French cuisine and pastry techniques at the Adult Education School
in Philadelphia in 1962. She then opened her own school, Modern
Gourmet in Massachusetts in 1971. Chez La Mère Madeleine, the
restaurant she ran with her Modern Gourmet students in Boston
from 1975 to 1979, was considered by many, including Paul Bocuse,
to be one of the finest in the country, receiving four stars from
the Mobil Guide and five stars from Anthony Spinazzola, restaurant
reviewer for the Boston Globe.
Odessa's commitment to regionally reliant cooking has advanced
her menu ideas to White House menus and exposure in a variety
of media including Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Eating
Well, Wine Spectator and Sierra. Odessa is a frequent contributor
to Wisconsin Public Radio and NPR, and is a consultant to The
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to assisting many local initiatives
for sustainable food Choices, Odessa is a member of the International
Women's Forum, and serves on the Board of Chefs Collaborative
2000 and the Scholarship Committee for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.
Odessa is a Midwest Chef nominee for the Beard House awards, Odessa
frequently accompanies her husband, wine importer Terry Theise
on his travels through France, Germany and Austria. Her projects
include opening L'Etoile's Café, developing integrated curriculum
for a school of farming and cooking, and compiling a book of L'Etoiles'
recipes with the philosophy that inspires them. Her restaurant
L'Etoile continues to be a favorite destination within the local
community, and celebrated 23 years in business this August.