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September 11, 2013

Together again, but behind the stove

Gloucester classmates show off chef skills at revamped Foreign Affairs

The best burger on Cape Ann may have its origins in Mrs. Klopotoski’s 1989 third-grade class at East Gloucester Elementary School, where Doug Papows was “the Boy Scout” and Christian Collins was “always in time-out.”

Those third-graders, now 32, have reunited in the kitchen of Foreign Affairs, a great new local restaurant in Manchester. Papows is the head chef; Collins is his sous chef.

The Foreign Affairs signature is a menu stacked with just what one wants in a local joint — a great roast chicken; a thick, meaty pork chop; luscious braised lamb shank; a burger – prepared with beautiful, educated technique; Papows attended the Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and spent a number of years in Chicago kitchens, notably Japonais, a 4.5 star Japanese-European restaurant in downtown Chicago.

Foreign Affairs is wooing those who want their traditional dishes to come with delicious surprise. There’s fiery creativity in the kitchen, perhaps some of it born in all those hours of third-grade time out? Lest anyone forget, Christian Collins’ combustible imagination kept him on our television screens to the bitter end of the 2011 Fox “MasterChef” series, where he finished third.

At Foreign Affairs, the “stack,” a salad of grilled local zucchini, summer squash, marinated eggplant and olive tapenade, recently sprouting a field of micro-greens, is no less beautiful than a plot of woodland garden, an example of the swooshing culinary paintbrush behind Collins’ wild child reputation.

To the Boy Scout and bad boy in the Foreign Affairs line-up we add Rockport native — “good student, a bit of a dreamer”— Matt Rose, just a couple of years behind Collins at Rockport High School. Once the general manager at Alchemy, Rose acquired there a haloed reputation for his wine passion, regularly charming customers with his new and reasonable wine finds. Now a sales representative for Martignetti’s, New England’s leading distributor of fine wines and spirits, but instrumental in organizing this new interpretation of Foreign Affairs (The restaurant opened a year ago, but closed and recently reorganized with new staff.), Rose designed the restaurant’s wine list, which has impressed even his new circle of Martignetti experts. He sometimes appears behind the bar at Foreign Affairs for an occasional celebrity bar-tending shift. The intimate, chic wine bar is a welcome Cape Ann addition.

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