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Madera with a View

Friday, 13. June 2014 5:25

Hamachi crudo with strawberries at Madera in Menlo Park.

Hamachi crudo with strawberries at Madera in Menlo Park.


Majestic is the word all right for Madera restaurant in the Rosewood Sand Hill resort in Menlo Park.

It’s got to be one of the most breathtaking dining rooms in the Bay Area, what with its floor-to-ceiling windows and wide terrace with a panoramic view of the Santa Cruz mountains. It’s easy to forget you’re in the thick of the hustle-bustle of Silicon Valley and not on vacation instead.

Over the past five years, with its proximity to all the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road, it’s turned into a hot spot for business wheeling and dealing, as evidenced in my recent story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Even if it’s well known among the VC and CEO set, it’s still rather under the radar for the rank-and-file tech employees, says Chef Peter Rudolph, who is always surprised when he does corporate events at how few people have even heard of Madera.

That’s a shame because it’s such a lovely oasis. And we sure need more of those, don’t we?

Madera boasts a lofty feel with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Madera boasts a lofty feel with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Chilled wine awaits.

Chilled wine awaits.

I ate at Madera when it first opened. Although I liked the food, I found many of the dishes had just too much going on.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I was invited in to dine as a guest of the restaurant. The dishes are still far from simple, but they felt more reined in than previously.

Dinner is not inexpensive — starters are $15 to $20, and mains are $33 to $41. But to put it in perspective, this is also a place where tech folks are known to celebrate by ordering premium scotch for $500 a shot (again, see my link to my Chronicle story above). There’s also an impressive 2,000 wines to choose from.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Author:

Join the Food Gal and Chef Jose Esparza of Hult’s at Macy’s Valley Fair

Wednesday, 4. June 2014 5:26


If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out Hult’s, the farm-to-table restaurant that opened in Los Gatos late last year, here’s your chance to get a first taste.

Hult’s Chef Jose Esparza will be joining me for a cooking demo at 6 p.m. June 12 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara to cook up one of his specialties.

Hult’s was opened in the old Hobee’s locale in downtown Los Gatos by Alexander Hult, a former professional hockey player in Europe who was once drafted by the San Jose Sharks. He grew up in Sweden, where in between hockey seasons, he would help his mother in the restaurants of the hotel she managed. He created his own restaurant, Hult’s, with his wife, Sarah Chapman-Hult, a native of San Jose who in 2011 was crowned Miss Nevada USA.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person | Comments (3) | Author:

Pacific Catch Makes A Landing in Mountain View

Friday, 30. May 2014 5:26

Korean Barbecue Bowl at Pacific Catch in Mountain View.

Korean Barbecue Bowl at Pacific Catch in Mountain View.


San Francisco-based Pacific Catch opened its sixth location at the end of March in Mountain View — and its largest restaurant to date.

Located at The Village at San Antonio Center, it’s a pretty, airy restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating, plus roomy booths in the dining room that’s decorated on theme with fish prints, a cascading water wall and light fixtures that look like they’re fabricated from delicate Japanese paper.

Partners Aaron Noveshen and Keith Cox opened the first Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street in San Francisco in 2003. This spring, they also brought on board David Gingrass as executive chef. Gingrass, who cooked with Wolfgang Puck and once had the lauded Hawthorne Lane restaurant in San Francisco, has streamlined and upgraded operations, according to the general manager. Still to come, Gingrass will be putting his stamp on the menu with some new dishes.

The dining room.

The dining room.

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to check out the current menu when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The restaurant is proud of its crafted cocktails including the Spicy Pacific ($7), which I tried at the manager’s suggestion. It’s a golden blend of Svedka vodka, passion fruit and Serrano chilies. It starts out fruity and refreshing, then the kick of heat kicks in at the end, warming the throat all the way down. It should come with a warning, as you can’t help but take one sip then reach for another and another.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Seafood | Comments (1) | Author:

Green Beans with Japanese Flair

Friday, 23. May 2014 5:26

Green beans you won't be able to stop eating.

Green beans you won’t be able to stop eating.


Planning a picnic this Memorial Day? Or a backyard barbecue this long weekend?

Then, you’ve got to make these green beans.

I guarantee they will be the talk of the table.

I first made “Green Beans with Miso and Almonds” last Thanksgiving as a novel alternative to the usual green bean casserole. My in-laws couldn’t stop eating it. Each of them kept reaching for seconds, even thirds. Now, whenever my husband sees me trimming fresh green beans from the farmers markets, he secretly hopes they’re destined for this dish.

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

A Glutton for Butter Mochi

Wednesday, 21. May 2014 5:25

Butter mochi -- my downfall.

Butter mochi — my downfall.


Last week, I gorged myself.

And I blame Chef Jeffrey Stout for it.

You see, after a recent trip to Hawaii, I happened to post a photo on Facebook of a unique sweet treat that I enjoyed there that was quite new to me: butter mochi.

Stout, former chef of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino who’s now building his own restaurant, Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell, did what any self-respecting chef would do when he spied the photo and sensed my longing — he emailed me a recipe for it.


It was far easier to make than I thought it would be. When I tried a piece, I immediately ate a second, then had to restrain myself from reaching for a third.

Chef, what have you done!

The recipe comes from Stout’s neighbor, Taryn Esperas, who has been known to make this for neighborhood block parties, where it’s always one of the first things to be gobbled up.

It’s cake. But not. It’s custard. But not really. It’s sort of its own delightful hybrid.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (14) | Author: