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Chef Who Cooked for Moscow Summit Back at the Burners for GOP

August 15, 1988

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The hassles of concocting jambalaya in Moscow are a dim memory for John Folse, the Cajun cook who is now directing his energies toward feeding Republicans.

Last May, at the U.S.-Soviet summit meeting in Moscow, Folse set up an outpost of his restaurant, Lafitte’s Landing in Donaldsonville, La., at the headquarters hotel for reporters and American officials.

But Folse ran into some unexpected bureaucratic roadblocks, particularly the Kremlin-imposed $16 cover charge that kept many diners away. Folse ended up giving away hundreds of hamburgers to hungry reporters.

″We were a hard currency machine for the Soviets,″ Folse said.

Some of those same reporters spotted Folse at a pre-convention press party where he offered samples of Cajun cooking in hopes of luring them to eat at his restaurant, which is about an hour’s drive from New Orleans. He’ll also cater a party Tuesday for Democratic Gov. Buddy Roemer, odd man out at the Republican National Convention.

Folse said he stays in touch with Soviet officials, who hope to send three Soviet chefs to Louisiana and other parts of the United States soon as part of the U.S.-Soviet culinary exchange.

The Soviets will offer food at Folse’s restaurant, and Folse, who was unimpressed with the quality of his meals in the Soviet Union, said he is encouraging people to reserve tables.

He said he is telling friends, ″This is one of the few times you are assured a bad meal at LaFitte’s Landing.″

Kidding aside, Folse said he thinks the trip will let the Soviets see the bountiful supplies of food that American chefs have at their disposal.

The trip should satisfy some of the Soviets who worked in Folse’s Moscow kitchen. They ″felt we had staged a lot of things,″ he said.

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