Category Archives: Chefs

A Sweet Visit to Batch Pastries

Owner and baker Emily Buysse hard at work in the kitchen of her Batch Pastries.

Owner and baker Emily Buysse hard at work in the kitchen of her Batch Pastries.

 

Emily Buysse is an avowed cookie monster.

So much so that when she was working for an IT company in Berkeley, and couldn’t find a decent cookie to nibble on during her breaks, she took matters into her own hand. She started baking, baking, and baking.

In fact, it snowballed into a sweet new career, launching her first into her own wholesale baking business before she decided to take over Montclair Baking in Oakland two years ago and rechristening it Batch Pastries.

A perfect spot to take a load off with something sweet.

A perfect spot to take a load off with something sweet.

This would almost make me take up running again.

This would almost make me take up running again.

Situated in a small strip mall atop a hill, it’s a bakery small in space but big in heart. Regulars gather on sunny days to relax with coffee and a cookie, which she considers the perfect treat because it’s the ideal size to satisfy without overwhelming.

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Finally Making Time for Sammies at B. On The Go

A chicken salad sandwich on house-made bread at B. On The Go.

A chicken salad sandwich on house-made bread at B. On The Go.

 

I confess that my sweet tooth often rules my life.

Which is why it’s only now that I’ve finally made it to B. On The Go in San Francisco.

Typically, I’ll be so laser-focused on getting to its sister site, B. Patisserie to snag my favorite kouign-amanns that I forget everything else.

Not this time, though.

I finally made it into B. On The Go a couple weeks ago to buy two delicious sandwiches.

Just steps away from B. Patisserie.

Just steps away from B. Patisserie.

Just order at the counter.

Just order at the counter.

The sandwich shop is kitty-corner to the pastry shop. The light-filled corner spot offers soups, salads, and a few baked treats in addition to sandwiches, which are served on house-made bread, of course.

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Carrot Cake Perfection By The Artful Baker

A carrot cake recipe that will replace any other you used to use.

A carrot cake recipe that will replace any other you used to use.

 

Simply put, “Carrot Cake with Blond Chocolate Frosting” is perfection personified in every single forkful.

Like the creator of this recipe, the uber talented baker Cenk Sonmezsoy, I, too, was skeptical that a carrot cake made without walnuts would prove completely satisfying. After all, I love nuts in almost anything for their added texture, richness and flavor.

But in his cake, you don’t miss the walnuts at all. That’s because browned butter takes its place, getting incorporated into the batter to add a divine nutty aroma and taste all its own. Moreover, the frosted cake gets ringed with toasted pumpkin seeds, which add a big dose of toastiness and crunch.

Artful-Baker-Cover

This dynamite recipe is from “The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From An Obsessive Home Baker” (Abrams, 2017), of which I received a review copy.

You may already know Sonmezsoy for his award-winning food blog, Cafe Fernando. If you don’t, it’s high time you got to know this Instanbul-based writer, photographer and food stylist, who received his MBA from the University of San Francisco before going to work for a high-tech PR firm.

Ironically, during his time in San Francisco, Sonmezsoy lived in an apartment so small that he never cooked or baked. It was only when he returned to Istanbul that found himself longing for the food he left behind in San Francisco. So, he began baking like crazy, starting with brownies. He started his food blog in 2006, which took off like mad, capturing the fancy of so many influential bakers and publishers that he quit his corporate job in 2010 to devote full-time to blogging.

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First Look At the Hotly Anticipated Protege

Gilded hush puppies on a bed of popped sorgham at the new Protege in Palo Alto.

Gilded hush puppies on a bed of popped sorgham at the new Protege in Palo Alto.

 

After more than a year of permitting and construction delays, Protege, arguably the most highly anticipated restaurant around, finally opened its doors to the public on Tuesday.

Passersby have been peeking in the windows for months, streaking them with hand prints and even nose prints, so eager to experience this restaurant by French Laundry alums, Executive Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly. They are joined by Pastry Chef Eddie Lopez, who also hails from the French Laundry, as well as Grace in Chicago and Vintage Cave in Honolulu.

With that kind of culinary star-wattage, is it any wonder that the night this California Avenue restaurant quietly debuted, there were already half a dozen people anxiously waiting outside half an hour beforehand to be one of the very first inside?

Head Chef Anthony Secviar readying a dish a few weeks before the grand opening.

Head Chef Anthony Secviar readying a dish a few weeks before the grand opening.

The kitchen on opening night.

The kitchen on opening night.

I was one of them, along with two friends, snagging seats at the chic, back-lighted bar, and paying our tab at the end. There are purse hooks underneath, of course, along with some of the most comfy nappa leather bar stools I’ve ever sat in.

Sit on the stools closest to the kitchen and you can peer in at all the activity as Secviar calls out the orders, and the cooks all respond in unison, “Oui, Chef!”

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Chicken with Red Pumpkin Seed Mole

A chicken mole recipe that doesn't intimidate.

A chicken mole recipe that doesn’t intimidate.

 

Los Angeles’ food scene has definitely got it going on these days — from the opening of Eataly and Dominique Ansel Bakery, as well as Ansel’s first restaurant, 189, to the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing Vespertine.

Before any of them, though, there was — and still is — one of the most dynamic landscapes for Mexican cuisine in the United States. From taco stands to food trucks to mom-and-pop restaurants to celebrity chef-run fine-dining establishments, Los Angeles has a wealth of places to experience thoughtful, authentic, and cutting-edge food that takes influence and inspiration from every region in Mexico.

One couldn’t ask for a better culinary guide to all of that than Bill Esparza, a Mexican food expert who won a James Beard Award for his exhaustive and exhilarating coverage of the taco scene in Los Angeles.

LAMexicanoBook

His cookbook, “L.A. Mexicano: Recipes, People & Places” (Prospect Park Books, 2017), of which I received a review copy, is filled with profiles and stories of the Mexican chefs and restaurateurs who have made Los Angeles their home and their livelihood, and along the way, made the region all the more delectable.

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