Minneapolis, Minnesota

The French Ministry of Agriculture bestowed the title of Chevalier d’Ordre du Mérite Agricole on Minnesota’s Lucia Watson last Friday. The author and restauranteur of Lucia’s Restaurant, Wine Bar, and Lucia’s To Go received the honor from Alain Frécon, Honorary Consul of France in Minnesota, at a noon luncheon and ceremony at Windows on Minnesota.

Created in 1883 to acknowledge exemplary services to agriculture, the knighthood recognizes Watson for promoting bills of fare that use fresh, locally-produced foods based in sustainable agricultural practices.

Watson, whose love of French literature and life predates her 24 years in the business of preparing and presenting food, majored in French at the University of Minnesota and lives for parts of each year at her second home in Brittany. She also serves as a director for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), and previously served on the Organic Advisory Task Force of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

As the co-author of two books, Watson contributed in 1994 to “Care and Preparation of Freshwater Fish from Field to Table” with Doug Stang and Bob Piper. This was followed 10 years later by “Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland,” written with Beth Dooley.

The French American Chamber of Commerce of Minneapolis/St. Paul sponsored Friday’s program. Its president, Jérôme Chateau, presided as master of ceremonies.

In addition to Watson, program speakers included Jim Boerboom, deputy commissioner, Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State and founder/past president of the IATP; Gunnar Liden, executive director, Youth Farm and Market Project; and Jim Harkness, president, IATP.

Executive Chef Thierry Penichot presided over the menu, which included roasted breast of chicken, provided by Callister Farms, West Concord MN; braised cabbage and root vegetables; local Camembert from Alemar Cheese Company, Mankato MN; a Minnesota apple tart; and red and white wines offered by Grand-Père Wines, Minneapolis.

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