Saturday, December 3, 2011

MWW Day 9 - J. Michael Orenduff's Alain Billot

For once, W.S. Gager has given me an interview I can sink my teeth into, literally. Alain Billot is the sous chef in J. Michael Orenduff's fourth book, THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED ESCOFFIER.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it, but first I must be professional and ask a few questions. So Alain, tell us how you came to be a chef at Schnitzel?

Alain: First, Mitch, let me say it is a pleasure to make with you the interview. You are the first correspondant I meet in America. I am spending a year in your country because I plan to open un restaurant américain when I return to France. My plan is to work in each of the best food cities in America to learn more of your many cuisines. Schnitzel was the only restaurant in Santa Fe with an opening for a chef.

Now Schnitzel is located in New Mexico. Your name sounds French. Isn't New Mexico all about Southwestern cooking that is spicy? Do you like things spicy?

Alain: Ah, you have gone straight to chase, as they say here. Schnitzel was a failure because the Austrian cooking was too heavy and did not have the spice of which you speak. But when the manager announced Schnitzel was to close, we convinced him to let us make a second try with Austrian/Southwestern fusion.

Hubie, or as his friends call him in jest, the pot thief, is an old friend of mine through W.S. and J. Michael Orenduff, whose paths usually cross annually in Vegas. (Don’t even ask. I’m not telling! A good reporter never divulges his sources.)  How did you meet Hubie?

Alain: Ah, this is the perfect follow through for you last question. I met Hubie when he was hired to make plates for Schnitzel. But in addition to being a potter, he is also an amateur cook who knows well the New Mexican food. When we decided to change Schnitzel to Austrian/Southwestern fusion, there was no one on the kitchen staff who knew of Southwester cuisine, so we enlist Hubie to be, so to speak, our advisor. He is the one who invented our most successful dish, Schnitzel con tres chiles.

Um, Alain, the phrase is ‘follow-up’. ‘Follow-through’ is what you do with a golf swing. But speaking of dishes, now to the tasty stuff? What did you bring for me to sample today? What is your specialty? Any doughnuts?

Alain: Yes, for dessert, I have brought you a beignet, the French donut laso known here in New Orleans. For your lunch, I have a croque monsieur. It means ‘crisp mister’, crisp because it is fried and mister perhaps because it was the lunch of the working men. But when Hubie mentioned it to that Detective, Fletcher, he thought it meant ‘dead man.’

 Fletcher? Whit Fletcher? I interviewed him a few months back. His English is worse than yours, and he was born in America. Well, New Mexico, anyway. One last question. Any chance you and Hubie will be working again together?

Alain: Qui sait? The garde manger at Schnitzel was murdered, and Hubie was arrested for embezzling the restaurant and then later shot at. I think he has had enough of the restaurant business. However, we became blossom buddies, so who can say what the future holds.

The phrase is ‘bosom buddies’. Thanks for doing this interview, Alain. And before I forget, don’t you forget to leave a comment to be entered to win one of my award winning adventures in book or ebook format. Winners will be announce at the end of the Murder We Write Blog Tour.

Mike Orenduff grew up in a house so close to the Rio Grande that he could Frisbee a tortilla into Mexico. He came by his love of pueblo pottery during weekends, buying small pots from the pueblos his family visited and – in one case – acquiring one when his sister traded chocolate chip cookies for it.     His love of pottery expanded to a general interest in archaeology which he studied as an undergraduate. While in graduate school at the University of New Mexico, Mike worked during the summer as a volunteer teacher at one of the nearby pueblos. He went on to serve as President of New Mexico State University and as a visiting faculty member at West Point and President of Bermuda College. After retiring from higher education, he rekindled his love of the Southwest by writing his award-winning Pot Thief murder mysteries which combine archaeology and philosophy with humor and mystery.  Among his many awards are the New Mexico Book of the Year, the “Lefty” national award for best humorous mystery and two “Eppies” for the best eBook mysteries.


  1. Mike: Thanks for sharing Alain with us. I just love the characters you create.

  2. That was a kick in the pants. Wonder what Alain would do with that phrase. Good post, Wendy and Mike.


  3. I just had breakfast, and I'm still salivating. Loved Mitch and Alain together. Schnitzel con tres chiles--love it.


  4. Funniest piece yet, and the whole idea of Austrian/Southwestern fusion food reduces me to tears of laughter. Schnitzel con tres chiles is hilarious. You could follow it up with a nice big bowl of pork chip ice cream. This interview was done in high spirits on both sides, and I loved it.

  5. Love the idea of Austrian/Southwestern fusion. Perfect!

  6. I loved this interview! Good job, you guys. I can't get over the title of your book, Mike :-)

  7. That was a fun interview except for the slight language barrier, of course. I wish Alain much success in the restaurant business.

  8. Mike and Wendy, What a fun interview with great characters.

  9. Thanks for hosting me, Wendy, and thanks to all who commented. Writing about Austrian/Southwestern fusion was great fun. I just have to do a sequel. Even if it bombs, I know I'll enjoy the process.

  10. This interview was great fun! The Pot Thief is on my TBR list. Now just to get to my TBR list...