Chef Duskie Estes’ “S’mores in a Jar” for sampling at Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — Featuring half a dozen renowned chefs — all with Bay Area ties and most of them familiar from the world of food TV — last week’s final sessions of Chefs’ Holidays for 2015 proved delectable, delightful and deliriously fun.
I was honored to be a host of Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel for a third straight year for the annual series of cooking demos and gala dinners.
Session 7 featured Chef Ron Siegel of Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, who recounted his experience of being the first American chef to beat an Iron Chef on the original Japanese program. Siegel, who prepared the five-course gala dinner, revealed that he was most worried about cutting himself on the Japanese cooking show (he didn’t) and how he was glad the “secret ingredient” was lobster, rather than something really crazy like a live cow he’d have to milk on stage.
Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.
He was joined in that session by Chef Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland, who showed off the hand-forged Japanese knife he had made when he lived and studied in Japan; and by Chef Hoss Zare of The Fly Trap in San Francisco, who talked about how he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he was growing up.
Feast your eyes on the butterscotch-lime croissant at Butterscots.
If you’re a baked-good fiend like I am, Butterscots Bakery in St. Helena is definitely worth a stop when you’re in Wine Country.
It’s part of the Cairdean Estate, which took over and repurposed the old St. Helena Outlet mall. When I dined at the wonderful The Farmer & The Fox restaurant on-site a few months ago, my only regret was that I was there in the evening, when Butterscotts Bakery had already closed.
On a recent trip to Napa, I made up for that by making a beeline to the bakery to buy a couple of goodies. The bakery is overseen by Joseph Humphrey, who is also the executive chef of The Farmer & The Fox. Humphrey, who earned two Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, knows his baked goods. His popovers at the restaurant are the stuff of dreams.
Do you scream for ice cream?
You’ll yell even louder then for ice cream sandwiches.
Join yours truly as I host a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair Santa Clara at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 with Becky Sunseri, owner of Tin Pot Creamery in Palo Alto and Los Altos.
Since the demo is just two days before Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t resist enticing you with something not only sweet, but creamy and extra decadent.
“Beets & Butterfish” — one of the delights on the ever-changing menu at the new Orchard City Kitchen.
It’s been a long two years in coming for Chef Jeffrey Stout.
The former opening chef-partner of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, Stout was let go rather unceremoniously back then from that establishment, where he earned a Michelin star and maintained that rating for three years.
He set about to start over — this time with a more casual-style of dining with eclectic small plates that he could really put his own spin on.
The result is the wonderful new Orchard City Kitchen that opened just two months ago in Campbell’s Pruneyard. Last Wednesday night, the lively dining room was packed, a promising sign for a restaurant that has not done any marketing or public relations work. Indeed, Stout says he’s averaging over 200 covers a night already.
Chef-Owner Jeffrey Stout in the kitchen.
It’s easy to understand the restaurant’s appeal. It’s a come-as-your-are kind of place with favorite cookbooks and a Japanese Lucky Cat decorating shelves, and bare wood tables with a nifty bracket underneath to slide your wood board-backed menu into when you don’t need it anymore. A glass-fronted walk-in is visible at the back of the restaurant, lined with fresh fruits and veggies for all the world to see and to emphasize Stout’s farm-to-table philosophy. White subway tiles line the large open kitchen that Stout jokes is the “most open open-kitchen” there is because of the fact that the floor-to-ceiling, retractable windows opposite it in the dining room can open up and fold back completely, giving passersby a front-row view of the cooks at work.
Cumin, chiles and lamb make this one good dish, indeed.
I’ve always loved the no-nonsense, forthright title of Chef David Tanis‘ 2013 cookbook, “One Good Dish” (Artisan).
I’ve enjoyed even more the recipes inside, created by the former co-chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
So many recipes from other chefs come packed to the gills with flourishes and garnishes that are a project in and of themselves.
Tanis pares that all away in this book. As he rightly states: A meal doesn’t have to be complicated, complex or cumbersome. Sometimes all it takes is one splendid dish to satisfy.
This book is full of those kinds of dishes, the type you really want to make — and can make without tearing your hair out. Find everything from “Cornmeal Popovers” to “Potato Salad with Peppers and Olives” to “Quick Scallion Kimchee” to “Spanish Pork Skewers.”