Category Archives: Chefs

A Maui Roadshow at Hapa Ramen

"Top Chef'' finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

“Top Chef” finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

 

Last week, a trio of Maui chefs brought their brand of modern aloha cooking to San Francisco.

And there was nary a macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi to be seen.

Instead, Chefs Isaac Bancaco of Ka’ana Kitchen, Jeff Scheer of Maui Executive Catering, and “Top Chef” fan favorite Sheldon Simeon of Migrant, are part of the new wave of young chefs now adding a fresh spin to island cuisine by emphasizing local ingredients in dynamic preparations.

The trio showcased their cooking at invitation-only events last week at Hapa Ramen in the Mission. Call it a cross-cultural exchange, as Hapa Ramen Chef-Owner Richie Nakano is headed to Maui later this year to show off his California cooking chops.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

Wall art.

Wall art.

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I was lucky enough to be invited to the dinner for media and travel industry folks.

Appropriately enough, the night started off with a pink-hued Rangoon Gimlet made with Maui Ocean Organic Vodka, lime and angostura.

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Crispy Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

 

Whether you call it the Year of the Ram, Goat or Sheep, it’s high time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins on Thursday.

“Crispy Rice Cakes” are not something I necessarily grew up eating on this special holiday, which is celebrated by those of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent. But the itty-bitty cakes looked so precious when I spotted them in “The Slanted Door” cookbook that I couldn’t help but envision how wonderful they would be alongside cups of steaming tea or sake for this festive occasion.

The Ten Speed Press book, of which I received a review copy, is by Charles Phan, owner of the pioneering Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. It takes readers on a journey from the early days of the restaurant to its multiple moves around the city to finally its smash-hit location on the Embarcadero. Regular diners will recognize recipes for their favorite Shaking Beef, Dungeness Crab with Cellophane Noodles, and Grapefruit and Jicama Salad, along with a surprising number of cocktails. Those who have never eaten there will long to do so.

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These two-bite morsels can be picked up with your fingers or chopsticks, then dipped into soy sauce, chili oil or Sriracha.

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Join the Food Gal at Macy’s for A Cooking Demo with Three Seasons Restaurant

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To commemorate the start of the Lunar New Year this month, join yours truly and Chef John Le of Three Seasons in Palo Alto for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 2 p.m. Feb. 28.

The pan-Asian, downtown Palo Alto restaurant, which will celebrate its 12th year in business, is a favorite among Peninsula residents, including the tech crowd. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have been spotted dining there.

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Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays 2015 at the Ahwahnee

Chef Duskie Estes' "S'mores in a Jar'' for sampling at Chefs' Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

Chef Duskie Estes’ “S’mores in a Jar” for sampling at Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — Featuring half a dozen renowned chefs — all with Bay Area ties and most of them familiar from the world of food TV — last week’s final sessions of Chefs’ Holidays for 2015 proved delectable, delightful and deliriously fun.

I was honored to be a host of Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel for a third straight year for the annual series of cooking demos and gala dinners.

Session 7 featured Chef Ron Siegel of Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, who recounted his experience of being the first American chef to beat an Iron Chef on the original Japanese program. Siegel, who prepared the five-course gala dinner, revealed that he was most worried about cutting himself on the Japanese cooking show (he didn’t) and how he was glad the “secret ingredient” was lobster, rather than something really crazy like a live cow he’d have to milk on stage.

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Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

He was joined in that session by Chef Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland, who showed off the hand-forged Japanese knife he had made when he lived and studied in Japan; and by Chef Hoss Zare of The Fly Trap in San Francisco, who talked about how he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he was growing up.

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A Visit to Butterscots Bakery in St. Helena

Feast your eyes on the butterscotch-lime croissant at Butterscots.

Feast your eyes on the butterscotch-lime croissant at Butterscots.

 

If you’re a baked-good fiend like I am, Butterscots Bakery in St. Helena is definitely worth a stop when you’re in Wine Country.

It’s part of the Cairdean Estate, which took over and repurposed the old St. Helena Outlet mall. When I dined at the wonderful The Farmer & The Fox restaurant on-site a few months ago, my only regret was that I was there in the evening, when Butterscotts Bakery had already closed.

On a recent trip to Napa, I made up for that by making a beeline to the bakery to buy a couple of goodies. The bakery is overseen by Joseph Humphrey, who is also the executive chef of The Farmer & The Fox. Humphrey, who earned two Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, knows his baked goods. His popovers at the restaurant are the stuff of dreams.

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