Loaded gun cooks up trouble for chef Prudhomme at BWI

September 16, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified The Baltimore International Culinary College by its former title, the Culinary Arts Institute.

The Sun regrets the error.

The chef whose name is virtually synonymous with Cajun cooking was arrested at BWI Airport yesterday as he allegedly tried to carry a gun onto his flight to New Orleans.

Paul E. Prudhomme was in town to help prepare the food for a $200-a-plate fund-raiser in Baltimore on Monday night. He was ,, stopped as he passed through a security checkpoint on his way to board his plane for home.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

State police at Baltimore-Washington International Airport said Mr.Prudhomme, 52, was carrying a fully loaded, five-shot, .22-caliber revolver in a small carry-on bag.

A private security guard saw the weapon as the bag passed through an X-ray machine at Pier B, which serves America West and Delta airlines, about 8:30 a.m., police said.

The chef was charged with possession of a handgun and attempting to carry a firearm onto a plane, which is a felony. He was released on an unsecured $1,000 bond and was on his way home last night.

State police Sgt. Vernon L. Farro said the weapon was registered in Louisiana but not in Maryland. "There are a lot of misconceptions of what you can do with a permit," Sergeant Farro said.

Police said Mr. Prudhomme did not explain to them why the gun was in his bag.

Mr. Prudhomme arrived in Baltimore over the weekend and took part in a variety of activities, including a cooking seminar at the Culinary Arts Institute.

Monday night, he and nine colleagues from around the country teamed up with 10 local chefs to create a 10-course feast for 400 people at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The fund-raiser benefited the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a non-profit, state-managed organization that promotes bay preservation.

Mr. Prudhomme could not be reached for comment.

The sponsor of the fund-raiser said the chef, who owns K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans, took another flight home after he posted bail.

Mr. Prudhomme originated blackened redfish, a dish that made him famous, and helped introduce the spicy style of cooking to the world.

He has written many cookbooks and has made frequent appearances on national television.

His visit to Baltimore was sponsored by Nancy R. Longo, chef and owner of the Pierpoint Restaurant in Fells Point.

Ms. Longo said she and other sponsors of the fund-raiser are worried that negative publicity about the incident could be harmful to the successful event.

"We asked [state officials] for personal-dignity reasons, because Paul is a nice man and our friend, to see if they can keep it from being public," she said.

"Police said they wouldn't give that information out to anyone unless it was requested."

Ms. Longo said that she accompanied Mr. Prudhomme and his wife to the airport yesterday morning but would not describe the events of the arrest.

After Mr. Prudhomme was taken into custody, Ms. Longo called Thomas W. Burke, the director of the state Bay Communications Office, who said he called the court commissioner in Glen Burnie to find out what had happened.

Mr. Burke said he did not suggest to anyone that the information on Mr. Prudhomme's arrest be kept quiet.

"It was personal interest on my part," he said. "Here is this world-famous chef who I had just met the night before. The next thing I know, he was arrested by police.

"The only reason we were concerned is that we did a lot of work through my office to help raise money.

"We are concerned with any kind of negative publicity that would reflect on the trust."

No court date has been set.

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