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Try Chef Wavrin's Father's Day meal for yourself.

 

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Chef Bill Wavrin's Father's Day

   Family is so important to me. Mine was tragically fragmented early in my childhood because my mother became ill. My brothers and sisters were dispatched to different aunts and uncles, I was raised by my grandparents. All of us kids, separated by distance but close to the heart because of a strong, good family core, turned out just fine.
 
Although I always missed having a normal family with my mom and dad, Father's Day was a big deal around our family because my grandfather, Hank, was the center of everyone's life. Father's Day would bring his favorites — my Aunt Doreen's  Sicilian spaghetti with hot sausages and Parmesan meatballs, homemade blueberry pies, ice cream and my Uncle Nick's personally stomped on wine. Those were days to remember.    

Now as a chef with a family, I pretty much work every day. But I always make time when holidays come around to surprise or pretend to be surprised with my beautiful wife Rosie and the youngest of my five children. Nick and Ben are off to college leaving Jonathon, 10, Cheri Gabriella, 9, and the boss, BillieJeanne 1 1/2 , at home. Things are a little different but equally as intriguing and delicious around the table here in Mexico. We observe Father's Day, and most holidays, at Tres Estrellas, our 350-acre countryside ranch.

In the heat of the early afternoon sun, blue gray smoke can most always be seen in the distance billowing from our parilla (rock barbecue pit) as I drive down the rutted, winding quarter mile dirt road to our humble white adobe, which rests beside my six acre organic garden. Jonathon and Cheri will meet me at the car with an iced glass of Limonada or Jamaica (hibiscus) cooler and hugs and a couple of kisses. It can't get much better than this.

Rosie, who's from Zihautanejo, a lovely southern Mexican seaport on the Pacific, will have fresh, whole huachinango (red snapper) and shrimp on ice, at the ready. Multicolored freshly picked garden veggies, as well as jalapeno chilies and scallions will be overflowing from a woven cane basket atop the picnic table shrouded with a zarape (Mexican cape) in a rainbow of brilliant Mexican colors. Next to the basket, sweating clear blue glass pitchers will be chilling the limonada and Jamaica teas and alongside, two molcajetes (basalt mortar and pestles) housing freshly made guacamole and one of Rosie's outstanding picante salsas. There will always be hot fresh corn tortillas wrapped in pastel tea towels and an enameled clay bowl of steaming tomatillo-scented rice.

Awaiting my arrival, Rosie will generously season and toss the fish and shrimp so they will get their branding along with the chilies and scallions on the hot parilla. I get to cut the veggies and pass them to Rosie for grilling. Squeezes of lime on the searing yummies bring clouds of scented steam and the juices flowing to our festive imaginations. I can't wait to hold my youngest, BillieJeanne, who if let go is usually trying to rip the zarape from the table or jump into the parilla. Life is great. Wish Nick and Ben were here to enjoy this with all of us, but I know they're off having fun and enjoying life.

After the grilled fish, shrimp, rice and veggies have been wrapped in warm tortillas and liberally sauced and eaten, the ice cream dishes licked clean, bellies are full and happy, I scan the table surrounded by contented eaters, look into their eyes and thank God for the opportunity he gave me in being a father and a husband. I love my family. Father's day is everyday for me.

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