Category Archives: Chefs

48 Hours of Eating in Richmond, BC

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings -- at the Richmond Night Market.

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings — at the Richmond Night Market.


RICHMOND, BC — When I told friends that I was going to Canada for the weekend, I couldn’t blame them for looking at me dubiously.

But then again, Richmond, British Columbia is just a two-hour flight away from the Bay Area, so it’s not as crazy a proposition as it seems. Add to that the fact that the U.S. dollar will buy you 30 percent more in Canada right now, and it’s a no-brainer, right?

Indeed, when the Richmond Tourism Bureau invited me as their guest on a weekend eating adventure, I was game to see just how much ground we could cover in two days. The answer: a lot.

Richmond is an island with a population of 210,000. Of that, 65 percent are Asian. As a tourism official explained: the Chinese were drawn to this area because the name of the city sounded like “rich man,” and made them think they could become wealthy here.

Of the 800 restaurants here, half are Asian. As such, it’s no wonder that you’ll find some of the finest Chinese food around in this city, plus a whole lot more.

Fisherman’s Wharf

My complimentary accommodations at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel were more than fine, but, ah, my kingdom for a kitchen, especially when I saw the incredible seafood for sale off the boats on the wharf. Fresh uni at three for $10! As well as King salmon, and head-on wild shrimp.

The bustling wharf.

The bustling wharf.

The fresh catch for sale.

The fresh catch for sale.

Fresh uni!

Fresh uni!


This charming historic fishing village, just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf, may look familiar to fans of ABC’s hit show, “Once Upon A Time,” as much of it is filmed here.

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Not Your Average Melon

This cantaloupe hides a center of molten mozzarella. Swooning yet?

This cantaloupe hides a center of molten mozzarella. Swooning yet?


Melon and prosciutto.

Ho-hum. Been there, ate that.

But not like this.

Not when the cantaloupe cavity is filled with molten mozzarella before being draped with thin slices of salty-sweet prosciutto, and seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, and lush olive oil.

“Broiled Cantaloupe with Hand-Stretched Mozzarella Curds and Prosciutto” takes a familiar taste and turns it on its head.

The genius recipe is from the new cookbook, “Around the Fire: Recipes For Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting From Ox Restaurant” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.


It’s by husband-and-wife chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, with assistance from food writer Stacy Adimando. They are the chefs of the critically acclaimed Ox in Portland, OR.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse For A Cooking Demo

MacysAlexandersSteakhouseYou’re in for a meaty time when Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse joins me for a cooking demo, 1 p.m. Sept. 18, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The upscale, Asian-inflected steakhouse recently re-opened in a new, larger location in the Main Street Cupertino development. Its centerpiece is a dry-aging room that’s visible right when you walk in the doors, where magnificently marbled Japanese Wagyu is on display.

Montarbo is a Bay Area-native, who enrolled at the California Culinary Academy at the young age of 17, before going to cook for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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Picks For Your (Late) Summer Reading

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“32 Yolks” by Eric Ripert

With his ever calm, cool and collected demeanor, celebrated Chef Eric Ripert is the epitome of poise under pressure.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, the Michelin three-starred and New York Times four-starred gastronomic landmark in New York, has already written five cookbooks. But in his memoir, In “32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line” (Random House), of which I received a review copy, he bravely reveals his often painful path to becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world.

Born in Andorra, a small country in France just over the Spanish border, he grew up a sullen, angry child, following his parents’ divorce. While his stylish mother expressed her love for him through cooking, his step-father routinely expressed his disdain for him by berating him and slapping him around.

His first mentor was Chef Jacques, who let the unhappy young boy find solace in the kitchen by helping with tasks and by feeding him endless bowls of chocolate mousse. It wasn’t long before Ripert realized it was in the kitchen that he felt most at home.

At 17, he was working at La Tour d’Argent, where he quickly realized his culinary school degree made him no match for the skills needed at one of Paris’ most vaunted establishments. It grew even worse when he landed a job working under the great Joel Robuchon, where the entire kitchen crew quaked in fear of the legendary chef.

Thirty-two yolks refers to the number of yolks needed to make a perfect batch of hollandaise at La Tour d’Argent, a task Ripert failed epically on his first day there. But through the pages, you witness the fortitude and passion that made him what he is today.

The book ends before he gets to Le Bernardin. But for those interested in that part of his life, just pick up his other book, “On The Line” (Artisan), a masteful, detailed behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a restaurant of that caliber.

“Waste Free Kitchen Handbook”

With food waste such a hot topic these days, Berkeley’s Dana Gunders, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, has written a handy-dandy book to teach easy ways to use up more of your provisions so less ends up in the trash.

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Behind the Scenes as El Celler de Can Roca’s Roca Brothers Cook in San Francisco

"The World'' being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.

“The World” being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.


It was a little like getting a backstage pass to a U2 concert.

Only way better.

That’s how I felt when I was invited to hang around in the kitchen on Wednesday night when the three Roca brothers, owners of the illustrious El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, were in San Francisco to cook a series of dinners at the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

After all, in the culinary world — Joan (chef), Josep (sommelier and maitre d’) and Jordi (pastry chef) — are rock stars of the utmost magnitude. Their restaurant not only has garnered three Michelin stars, but is rated #2 on the current list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” (they were #1 in 2013 and 2015).

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

What’s more, the multi-course, three-hour dinners were not open to the public. Instead, they were by invitation-only, with the 100 guests each night predominantly clients of Spanish bank BBVA Compass, which was sponsoring the Roca brothers’ whirlwind cooking tour. It spans three continents in five weeks with stops in London, Hong Kong, Phoenix, San Francisco (this week), and finally, Santiago de Chile.

Although Joan had come to the Bay Area in the spring on a prior scouting trip, this was the first time the other two brothers have visited San Francisco.

The 2016 tour is the third time BBVA has sponsored such an endeavor for the brothers. And what an undertaking it is. El Celler Can Roca closes for the entire month of August just for this, and almost the entire staff comes along for the ride. We’re talking the brothers plus 40 others.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Besides their personal luggage, the brothers travel only with their knives, and a few special ingredients, such as distillations that would be too difficult to make on location. One-of-a-kind serving ware is sent ahead. They go through one Iberico jamon leg per dinner. They source most everything else locally, making a point to use a few key ingredients particularly indigenous to the cities they are cooking in.

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