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Chefs’ Holidays 2014 in Yosemite

Friday, 31. January 2014 5:25

A beautiful day in Yosemite National Park.

A beautiful day in Yosemite National Park.


Last week in Yosemite National Park, kids in shorts kicked around a soccer ball, seniors played a game of croquet, and the mules were let out in winter for the first time in decades.

The park may have lacked its usual blanket of snow, but it had an abundance of celeb chefs.

That’s because it was time for Chefs’ Holidays at the majestic Ahwahnee Hotel. The annual event in January and February features acclaimed chefs from all over the country. In each session, three different chefs are featured. Guests get to enjoy a meet-and-greet reception with the chefs, watch each of the chefs do a demo, then enjoy a gala five-course dinner prepared either by one of the chefs or all three of them.

The Ahwahnee -- minus any snow.

The Ahwahnee — minus any snow.

Deer nibble in a meadow behind the hotel.

Deer nibble in a meadow behind the hotel.

Rock sculptures created by visitors to Mirror Lake.

Rock sculptures created by visitors to Mirror Lake.

This was my second time back as a moderator for two of the sessions.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, Food TV, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Travel Adventures | Comments (6) | Author:

Make It A Hot and Sour Lunar New Year

Wednesday, 29. January 2014 5:29

Warm up with a different version of hot and sour soup.

Warm up with a different version of hot and sour soup.

Hot and sour soup is not a traditional dish on the standard Lunar New Year menu.

But when you have one this delicious, it’s hard not to want to share it with friends and family for a wonderful celebration such as the start of the “Year of the Horse.”

This version is by talented Pastry Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Massachusetts. It’s from her second cookbook, “Flour, Too” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

You may already know Chang for her most excellent pastries and breads. But her Myers + Chang restaurant also serves up satisfying savory selections, many influenced by her family, as well as classic Taiwanese dishes.

This soup comes together quite quickly. In fact, in the book, Chang writes that her mom used to whip it up as a fast lunch on a regular basis for her kids. Now, it sells out routinely at Meyers + Chang.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General | Comments (11) | Author:

Meet the Food Gal at Macy’s Valley Fair with the Chefs From Palo Alto Grill

Monday, 27. January 2014 5:26


At a loss as to what special dishes to cook up to wow your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day?

Come to Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 2 p.m. Feb. 1 to learn from the best. I’ll be hosting a cooking demo with husband-and-wife team, Executive Chef Ryan Shelton and Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton, both of the Palo Alto Grill in downtown Palo Alto. They’ll show you how to create the perfect savory dish and can’t-miss sweet treat for that romantic holiday.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person | Comments (2) | Author:

A Toot to Tout Sweet

Friday, 24. January 2014 5:26

Tout Sweet's Nutella brioche.

Tout Sweet’s Nutella brioche.

If you need a pick-me-up of the sweet persuasion while shopping in San Francisco’s tony Union Square area, duck into Macy’s.

That’s where you’ll find Tout Sweet – past the racks of women’s sportswear on the third floor.

It’s the cute little patisserie by Yigit Pura, the first winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”

Done up in gumdrop colors, it’s a cheery place to pick up a treat or to sit for a spell while enjoying coffee, a glass of wine or even a savory sandwich.

That’s exactly what I did one day recently when I bought a few things to enjoy later at home.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Food TV, General | Comments (3) | Author:

Exploring California Gold Country, Part II

Wednesday, 22. January 2014 5:26

Mushroom cigars at Taste Restaurant.

Mushroom cigars at Taste Restaurant.

In the Bay Area, we admittedly get spoiled by the plethora of restaurants in our midst.

But Gold Country definitely has got it going on with good eats, too.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento for inviting me to be their guest on a three-day trip (including meals and accommodations) to explore the restaurant scene. Here are the highlights:

Taste Restaurant in Plymouth

With less than 1,000 residents and a dusty main street so compact you would almost miss it if you blinked, Plymouth in Amador County is hardly the place you’d expect to find as stylish and creative a farm-to-table restaurant as Taste.

Chef Mark Berkner and wife Tracey, who runs the front of the house, have created nothing less than a true gem here.  It’s lured tourists from afar, locals day after day, and even merited a mention in the New York Times. The couple has a real knack for opening places in what some might deem nowhere’s-ville and turning them into destination dining. Consider that before they opened Taste, they owned and operated the St. George Hotel and its restaurant in Volcano, CA — population 115. Yes, you read that right.

Dining at Taste is a warm, welcoming experience with dishes that will delight.

You can graze on small plates or order a full-on entree. The menu changes seasonally and features house-cured lamb bacon and duck prosciutto.

Sweetbreads and waffles? Yes, yes, yes!

Sweetbreads and waffles? Yes, yes, yes!

The night I was there, the restaurant featured a clever take on chicken and waffles. Only the chicken was swapped out for fried sweetbreads ($14) atop a vanilla-infused waffle all crowned with grilled nectarines, smoked maple syrup and salted peanut brittle. It was down-home yet uptown at the same time. An amazing dish.

The one dish that never leaves the menu is the Mushroom Cigars ($9.5). The crisp, phyllo logs hold a center of crimini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms fortified with creamy goat cheese.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (6) | Author: