My Last Supper photographer Melanie Dunea peeks into the minds of working chefs and uncovers their most prized possessions.
Food & Wine
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Interview and Photos by Melanie Dunea / CPi / My Last Supper
"Using a duck press is a workout. It's a bloody job, but someone has to do it!"
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"In the early '20s, a gentleman from Cleveland bought this duck press from the 21 Club in New York and took it back with him to Cleveland. When he passed away, his daughter stored it in her basement for 15-20 years and never used it. One day, she was talking to a friend of mine about her father and how he used to have parties where he would press ducks and birds and roast them. My friend asked to see it, they cleaned and shined it up and brought it to me as a gift."
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"The greatest gift that I could give back to the young woman as a thank you was to use her father's duck press and make one of his recipes. So one night when she came for dinner, I made one of her father's recipes using the duck press."
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"First you roast the duck, and when it is done you cut out the legs and the breast. Then you break down the carcass, and you put it all in the press and start to squeeze. The duck has tons of blood from inside its carcass, the lungs, the heart and the liver. When you start squeezing the blood and juices drip out, and you use that to finish the sauce."
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"There are lots of things that are my treasured items, some that survive well and others that are hard to find. I think this duck press one was hard to find, and that's why it's one of my most treasured items."
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"A press can be used for many different things. You can press anything that has juice and liquid and that needs compression to extract it. I think that pressing a duck is more magical than anything else. Historically, there are books dating from the late 1400s that show pictures of a duck being pressed."
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