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Cozy Up to Zola in Palo Alto

Friday, 21. November 2014 5:26

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

 

If French writer Emile Zola was all about literary realism, then Palo Alto’s new Zola restaurant pays fitting tribute with its seasonal French cooking that keeps it real and all together soulful.

Chef-Proprietor Guillaume Bienaime opened his intimate downtown restaurant in late-September. The former fine-dining chef at Marche in Menlo Park has consulted on restaurants over the past couple of years. But Zola is his own venture and you can tell he’s poured his heart into it.

Recently, I met up with a friend for dinner there, with us paying the tab at the end of the meal. It’s a cozy space done up in denim-colored walls beside exposed brick, bare wood tables and classic cafe chairs.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

It’s the kind of place where you can come in jeans, and settle in with a glass of French Rhone wine and a plate of short ribs done Bourguignon-style, and emerge feeling restored.

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Brown Sugar Kitchen’s Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

Wednesday, 19. November 2014 5:26

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.

 

Imagine a holiday cake that’s rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene.

OK, so it does have chocolate chips, too. Plus a wicked chocolate-coffee glaze.

“Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake” has all that going for it and more. After all, it’s the creation of Chef Tanya Holland, who’s famed for her soulful comfort food at her Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland.

This cake is from her new cookbook, “Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes From Sweet West Oakland” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. It was written with former San Francisco Magazine editor Jan Newberry.

BrownSugarKitchenBook

You’ll find all your Brown Sugar Kitchen favorites here, including Holland’s legendary Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. All in all, you’ll find more than 80 recipes from everything from Creole Gazpacho to Smoked Buttered Rum. What’s really special about this book, though, is its sense of place. Holland’s restaurant is an intrinsic part of this West Oakland neighborhood. The book celebrates the people that make this area what it is by including profiles of its entrepreneurs, musicians and community leaders.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet), Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

A Tacolicious Time at Home

Friday, 7. November 2014 5:26

Lamb shanks -- Tacolicious-style.

Lamb shanks — Tacolicious-style.

 

Few of us are lucky enough to score a dinner invitation to San Francisco Magazine writer Sara Deseran’s house.

Because if we did, we apparently would find ourselves chowing down deliriously on “Lamb Adobo Taco with Spices and Oranges.”

For Deseran, co-owner of the Bay Area’s Tacolicious restaurants with her husband, Joe Hargrave, this is one of her go-to dishes when entertaining.

Fortunately for us, she’s sharing that recipe in her newest cookbook, “Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook features the seasonal, bright flavors of Tacolicious at its best in such recipes as “Shrimp Cakes with Corn-Basil Salsa,” “Albondigas in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce,” “Lone Star Breakfast Taco” and “Pineapple-Coconut Aqua Fresca.”

TacoliciousBook

After one taste, I can see why this dish is such a favorite of hers. Lamb shanks braise in a rich, dark sauce that resembles mole but is far easier to make. It’s one of those sauces that announces itself immediately with boldness and deep complexity, as well as a kick of heat that starts off slow and gentle, then builds the more you eat of it. The taste is very earthy, with a touch of fruitiness from the chiles, and just the merest hint of tanginess.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory), Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

Jacques Pepin: On His 14th — and Final Cooking Series

Wednesday, 5. November 2014 5:25

Jacques Pepin and his grand-daughter Shorey preparing to film an episode of his last cooking series.

Jacques Pepin and his grand-daughter Shorey preparing to film an episode of his last cooking series.

 

When Chef Roland Passot informed his kitchen recently that none other than his longtime friend Jacques Pepin had just made a reservation for dinner that night at La Folie in San Francisco, his young cooks flew into a tizzy. They were disappointed that they didn’t get the news sooner so that they could have brought in their books for him to sign. As it is, a few intrepid cooks ran out to the store on their break to buy Pepin’s cookbooks just for the chance to get them autographed that night.

Such is the appeal and admiration of the renowned Jacques Pepin — Emmy Award- and James Beard Award-winning chef and former personal chef of French President Charles DeGaulle — who for generations has proved an inspired teacher not only to home cooks but to countless professional chefs.

Last month, I caught up with Pepin, who left his home in Connecticut to spend most of October in San Francisco, filming his 14th — and final — cooking series, “Jacques Pepin: Heart & Soul.” It will air next fall and include a companion cookbook.

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Join the Food Gal and Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez of Parcel 104 for A Macy’s Cooking Demo

Monday, 3. November 2014 5:25

MacysCarlosSanchez

You’re in for the ultimate sweet time when I host Chef Carlos Sanchez of Santa Clara’s Parcel 104 for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 6 p.m. Nov. 6.

Born in Columbia, Sanchez crafts delightful, dainty sweets served in trios that are always worth the calories. His smooth, eggy flan is the stuff of legends.

Trained in both the savory and dessert sides of the kitchen, Sanchez has incorporated such unusual ingredients as bell peppers and candy cap mushrooms into his memorable desserts.

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