Tofu Disruption


Chef Brandon Jew preparing his tofu "burrata'' at the San Francisco Cooking School.

Chef Brandon Jew preparing his tofu “burrata” at the San Francisco Cooking School.

For some people, the thought of tofu is enough to disrupt their appetite.

But for others in the know, tofu is poised for the same geeky-chic disruption as so many other tech ventures.

Minh Tsai, former investment banker turned tofu master, is leading that charge.

The founder of Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery, Tsai brought together a group of the Bay Area’s top chefs and food writers last week at the San Francisco Cooking School to ponder and taste tofu 2.0 — the next iteration of thinking and cooking with the much maligned soybean product.

Tofu laab with shrimp, Asian herbs, quince and chicharron.

Tofu laab with shrimp, Asian herbs, quince and chicharron.

“We want people to talk about tofu differently, to take it to another level,” says Tsai.

Read more

Join the Food Gal and Chef Pradeep Kumar of Vedas Restaurant For A Cooking Demo


Enjoy a taste of spice and all things nice when yours truly is joined by Chef-Owner Pradeep Kumar of Vedas restaurant for a cooking demo, 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

With outposts in Milpitas, San Mateo and Pleasanton, Vedas restaurants offer up a bold taste of the various regions of India. They are known for their proprietary spice blends, made in traditional stone grinders to preserve their robust flavors.

Born in Delhi, Kumar worked in New York City restaurants, Silicon Valley tech cafes, and with Food Network celebrity Robert Irvine of “Dinner: Impossible.”

Read more

Bryan Voltaggio’s Baked Applesauce

The beginnings of this applesauce.

The beginnings of this applesauce.


The applesauce of my youth was light and bright, the taste of sunshine in the park.

This applesauce, in contrast, is like autumn by a crackling fire.

“Baked Applesauce” is by Bryan Voltaggio, chef-owner of Volt, Lunchbox, Family Meal, Range , and Aggio restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virgina.

You probably also remember him as a finalist on “Top Chef” Season 6, my personal favorite season of the show because of the outstanding caliber of its contestants that year. Voltaggio lost to his brother Michael, who owns MVink in Los Angeles.

The recipe is from Bryan’s first cookbook, “Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends” (Little, Brown and Company), of which I received a review copy.


As the name implies, these 100 recipes are the ones he makes in his family kitchen.

Sure, a few recipes do call for a whipped cream canister or xanthum gum, items not necessarily found in your everyday home kitchen. But in general, these are recipes that are not geared for a brigade of cooks or fancy equipment. In short, they are accessible with familiar flavors and a sense of fun and comfort.

Read more

Jeff Banker Makes A Splash at Bluestem Brasserie

BN Ranch lamb two ways at Bluestem Brasserie. (Photo by Craig Lee)

BN Ranch lamb two ways at Bluestem Brasserie. (Photo by Craig Lee)


It was a double treat for me when I dined as a guest of the restaurant recently at Bluestem Brasserie in downtown San Francisco.

First, because my friend, the ever-talented photographer Craig Lee, who took the photos for my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons), not only agreed to be my dining companion that night, but also offered to take all the photos. It was a rare opportunity for me to just enjoy the food without having to worry about lighting or shutter speed. And let’s face it, Craig’s photos will always be heads and shoulders above mine. Just take a look for yourself, as he took all the pics on this post.

Second, because the equally gifted Executive Chef Jeff Banker was in the kitchen here. Banker and his wife Lori Baker owned the charming Baker & Banker in San Francisco until it closed last year. (In fact, his recipe for “Mirin-Soy Glazed Black Cod” and hers for “Roasted White Chocolate Cheesecake” are featured in my cookbook.) I still miss Lori’s decadent, mile-high cakes there. But at least now, I can enjoy a taste of Jeff’s food again.

Executive Chef Jeff Banker in the kitchen. (Photo by Craig Lee)

Executive Chef Jeff Banker in the kitchen. (Photo by Craig Lee)

His arrival at Bluestem is a reunion of sorts, as he worked at Postrio in San Francisco with Bluestem Co-Owner Adam Jed, when the latter was the morning-shift manager who would open the place up at 3 a.m.

Read more

Discount on FallFest, Plus Happenings in the South Bay/Peninsula

A scene from last year's FallFest. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco magazine)

A scene from last year’s FallFest. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco magazine)

Fall for FallFest in San Francisco

If you’re mourning the end of summer, you’re sure to rejoice that it’s fall with FallFest, the outdoor foodie fest noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 10 at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

Presented by San Francisco magazine, the event supports Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, which provides meals to home-bound seniors.

Enjoy live music, cooking demos, and tantalizing tastes from some of the Bay Area’s premier chefs, wineries and breweries.

Among those participating will be: 25 Lusk, Barbacco, Gaspar Brasserie, Cairdean Estates, and Blackbird Vineyards.

Tickets are $110 in advance; $125 at the door.

Get $10 off your ticket if you purchase before Oct. 2 and use the code: FOODGAL

Tacolicious Comes to Santana Row

San Francisco’s Tacolicious, which already has a venue in Palo Alto, is expanding even farther south with an outpost in Santana Row in San Jose.


It is expected to open sometime around February 2016 in the old Lavazza space.

Read more

« Older Entries