Category Archives: Chefs

Comfort Food Reimagined At Finn Town

Thanksgiving supper served up fancifully at Finn Town.

Thanksgiving supper served up fancifully at Finn Town.

 

At San Francisco’s Finn Town, every Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Well, Friendsgiving to be exact.

You can’t help but have a soft spot for a restaurant that serves a homey yet restaurant-worthy plate of turkey and all the fixings every Thursday night as a weekly special.

It’s one of the Castro District’s top-selling dishes, too, says Executive Chef Steve Dustin. who came on board in July, after having been culinary director of operations for the Big Night Restaurant Group, which includes The Cavalier, Marlow, and Leo’s Oyster Bar, among others. Celeb Chef Ryan Scott originally opened the restaurant in December 2016, but cut ties with the establishment six months later.

The name “Finn Town” apparently was what the Castro was once dubbed in the 1800s, owing to its then-large population of Finnish seamen.

The restaurant is an ode to San Francisco's irreverent history.

The restaurant is an ode to San Francisco’s irreverent history.

The bathroom walls are covered in old San Francisco newspapers.

The bathroom walls are covered in old San Francisco newspapers.

A recent Thursday night, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, definitely proved how popular the New American tavern is. The bar was standing-room only, and the dining room full. It’s a bustling place with a fun, slightly baroque interior, owing to the gilded wall paper and tufted, studded leather chairs in a rainbow of colors.

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Tacolicious School Project Starts Up, Santana Row Welcomes “Top Chef Mexico” Winner, And More

Visit Tacolicious on a Monday to help local schools. (Photo by Eleanor Palmieri)

Visit Tacolicious on a Monday to help local schools. (Photo by Eleanor Palmieri)

Tacolicious School Project

You probably already know that the Bay Area’s Tacolicious turns out delectable tacos. But what you might not know is that the restaurant company is now in its fifth year of raising funds for local schools.

In fact, its Tacolicious School Project has now raised $852,000 for local public schools, and is closing in on its goal of raising $1 million.

Every Monday from now through May, all Tacolicious restaurants in San Francisco, as well as the Santana Row San Jose location, will donate 15 percent of a month’s proceeds to 36 neighboring public schools.

To see which schools will benefit each month, click here.

What’s more, this year Tacolicious will donate proceeds from its sixth annual Taco Open golf tournament to Parents for Public Schools and the San Francisco Education Fund. The tournament will be held Oct. 19 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Tacolicious owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran started the school project in 2012. With kids of their own, they knew all too well how public schools struggle these days for enough funds to operate properly.

So if you’re hankering for tacos, be sure to visit Tacolicious on a Monday, when you’ll satisfy not only your hunger, but put your dollars to work for local schools.

Santana Row’s Chef Table Dinners with A “Top Chef” Winner

Las year’s “Top Chef Mexico” champ Chef Rodolfo Castellanos will headline two chef table dinners at Santana Row this month.

Sept. 13, he will cook a $99 four-course dinner at LB Steak, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests for this special Oaxacan-influenced dinner will be seated on the patio to enjoy dishes such as Chilhuacle pepper crusted seared Ahí tuna, and pan-roasted duck breast with flying ant mole manchamanteles.

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Rockridge Market Hall Foods Celebrates 30 Years

Top-selling Italian ricciarelli cookies at Market Hall Bakery.

Top-selling Italian ricciarelli cookies at Market Hall Bakery.

 

More than three decades ago, this lot on College Avenue in Oakland sat empty except when it transformed into a pumpkin patch every Halloween.

But siblings Sara, Tony and Peter Wilson had a vision that it could be so much more.

The New Zealand natives set to work to turn it into the first European-style food court in the Bay Area.

This year, Rockridge Market Hall Foods celebrates its 30th anniversary, a remarkable achievement in this day and age when fewer and fewer family-owned markets seem able to survive yet alone thrive.

The bakery case.

The bakery case.

A wide assortment of cured meats for sale at Market Hall Foods.

A wide assortment of cured meats for sale at Market Hall Foods.

Just part of the cheese selection.

Just part of the cheese selection.

To celebrate, the marketplace is hosting monthly events all this year that feature fun free activities and treats. To see what’s upcoming, check out the calendar here.

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Planked Wild Salmon with Nectarines, Thyme, Honey, Almonds, and Ricotta — Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Dinner is served -- right off the grill.

Dinner is served — right off the grill.

 

This might be the ultimate summer dish.

“Planked Wild Salmon with Nectarines, Thyme, Honey, Almonds, and Ricotta” combines summer’s prize of wild local King salmon with some of the season’s most luscious stone fruit — all co-mingled on a cedar plank that imparts a ravishing smokiness on the backyard grill.

Best yet? You can devour it all in good conscience because it’s all sustainable.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the West Coast” (Figure 1), of which I received an advance review copy, before it is released publicly in October.

LureCookbook

It was written by Ned Bell, who founded Chefs for Oceans to raise awareness for responsible seafood choices, and is a member of the Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. He wrote it in conjunction with Valerie Howes, the food editor of Reader’s Digest Canada.

Doing the right thing when it comes to seafood can be daunting. Species that seemed plentiful often find themselves over-fished in no time flat. Do we have to give up eating what we love? Or is there another way?

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Downtown Los Gatos Welcomes the Catamount

Soft serve with a chocolate magic shell and caramel sauce at The Catamount.

Soft serve with a chocolate magic shell and caramel sauce at The Catamount.

 

Following in the footsteps of Pizzeria Delfina, Gott’s and Tacolicious — all San Francisco restaurants that have ventured southward — now comes The Catamount in downtown Los Gatos.

It’s the newest establishment by restaurateur Ray Tang of the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco.

The handsome, 10,000-square-foot restaurant opened earlier this summer in the old California Cafe building. The interior was completely redone. The once open kitchen was closed off with trendy barn doors. The bar and dining room have been given the air of a modern plantation with breezy ceiling fans, plenty of rattan, and loads of windows to let streams of natural light in.

The old California Cafe redone completely.

The old California Cafe redone completely.

The inviting bar.

The inviting bar.

Its name pays tribute to the town’s name (Spanish for “the cats”), as well as its surrounding mountainous landscape.

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