Category Archives: Chefs

April Bloomfield’s “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata”

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

 

She may be most know for her gutsy nose-to-tail cooking. But celebrated New York Chef April Bloomfield wants you to know she’s equally equipped with root-to-shoot flair.

Her first cookbook, “A Girl and Her Pig” (Ecco, 2012) may have been meat-centric. But her follow-up, “A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden” (Ecco), decidedly puts the emphasis smack dab on a cornucopia of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Bloomfield is the award-winning chef-owner of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar, all in New York, as well as Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. She was also the star of season 2 of “The Mind of A Chef.”

In her cookbook, of which I received a review copy, she offers up dishes that home-cooks can actually make. That includes delights such as “Asparagus Quiches with Mint,” “Roasted Young Onions with Sage Pesto,” and “Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch.”

a girl and her greens

With stands at my local farmers market piled high with brilliant purple eggplants at this time of year, I was drawn to Bloomfield’s recipe for “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata.”

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You’re In Good Hands At San Francisco’s Omakase

Chef Justin Yu behind the bar at Omakase.

Chef Justin Yu behind the bar at Omakase.

 

Chef Jackson Yu hails from Beijing. As such, he knows how to cook Chinese food. But he decided long ago to ply his skills in a much different cuisine: sushi.

“I like to do Japanese food,” he explains. “It’s more of an art.”

Indeed it is, especially at his two-month-old Omakase in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, not far from AT&T Park.

The restaurant’s name refers to the Japanese phrase “to entrust yourself to the chef,” meaning, just sit back and allow the chef to feed you whatever he/she deems is best that day.

At Omakase, you are definitely in fine hands when you do that, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently.

You enter into a small foyer. On the right is Origami Market (set to open this week). Just like Omakase, it’s owned by restaurateur Kash Feng, who started up Live Sushi Bar in San Francisco. It will feature more casual fare such as poke, steamed dumplings and noodle bowls — all highlighting local, organic and sustainable when possible.

Chef  Ingi Son preps fish just as the first diners sit down for the evening.

Chef Ingi Son preps fish just as the first diners sit down for the evening.

Chef Yu forming nigiri.

Chef Yu forming nigiri.

Adding a smoky touch before serving.

Adding a smoky touch before serving.

But you are there for Omakase, so you are are escorted to the sushi bar on the left side, which is all of 14 seats. Behind the bar is Yu, who trained in the Bay Area and in Ginza, Japan; along with two other sushi chefs, Ingi Son, who has worked in Japanese restaurants from New York to Las Vegas to Napa; and Yoshihito Yoshimoto, a native of Osaka with more than 37 years of restaurant experience.

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Munchery — A Game-Changer

Flintstone-sized pork shank with butter beans -- delivered to my door care of Munchery for all of $18.95.

Flintstone-sized pork shank with butter beans — delivered to my door care of Munchery for all of $18.95.

 

It’s not often that I review a product that so exceeds my expectations that my jaw just drops in awe.

But Munchery is that rare find.

Established in San Francisco in 2010, the meal-delivery service was started by two guys working in tech who found it a challenge to feed their young families well under today’s demanding time constraints.

They created Munchery as an answer to that. It’s now expanded to Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, and just raised $85 million in funding.

Unlike many other delivery services that either offer take-out from area restaurants or prepped food kits that you finish cooking at home, Munchery’s meals come complete and chilled. All you need do is heat in an oven or microwave to enjoy whenever you like.

The food comes neatly packaged in recyclable/compostable containers.

The food comes neatly packaged in recyclable/compostable containers.

The dishes are created and made by professional chefs, some of them quite well known, such as Bridget Batson, former executive chef of San Francisco’s Gitane and Hawthorne Lane; and Jeremy Goldfarb, former executive chef of 123 Bolinas in Fairfax.

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Sacramento — America’s Farm-To-Fork-Capital

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible "soil.''

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible “soil.”

 

When one thinks of California’s top food cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles come to mind immediately.

As for Sacramento? Not nearly so readily.

In fact, a publicist for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that when arranging a tour recently for an out-of-state food writer, the visiting scribe’s first question was, “Is there an airport there?”

Why, yes, there is. It is the Golden State’s capitol, after all.

Indeed, Sacramento is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 1.5 million acres of farmland. With a year-round growing season, it produces more than 120 different crops that are enjoyed not only locally but abroad.

It grows more sushi rice than any other place. In fact, chances are if you eat any sushi in California, the rice was grown in Sacramento. The city produces 80 percent of the nation’s caviar. The breadth of the bounty includes everything from almonds to Kobe beef to wine grapes.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

I was reminded of just how crucial Sacramento is to our plates when I attended a special private dinner last week in San Francisco that spotlighted the city’s culinary treasures. It was a Sacramento roadshow, as Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar and Chef Ravin Patel, chief culinary officer of Selland Family Restaurants, trekked down from Sacramento to EatWith’s South of Market event space in San Francisco to prepare a multi-course feast for a dozen food journalists and bloggers. All of it featured fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood sourced from Sacramento.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Patrick Kelly of Lure + Till For A Cooking Demo at Macy’s

MacysLureTill

Join yours truly when I host Chef Patrick Kelly for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. Aug. 13.

Kelly is the executive chef of the stylish Lure + Till at the Epiphany Hotel in downtown Palo Alto. He also has serious cooking chops, having worked previously at the much lauded Spiaggia in Chicago, as well as Redd in Yountville, Angele in Napa, La Folie in San Francisco, and Gitane in San Francisco.

Culinary talent runs in the family, too, as Kelly is married to Chef Bridget Batson, former chef of Gitane and Hawthorne Lane in San Francisco, and now resident chef of the gourmet meal delivery start-up, Munchery.

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