Category Archives: Chefs

Black Bark: Bringing Back the ‘Cue to the Fillmore District

Three sauces at the ready at Black Bark BBQ in San Francisco.

Three sauces at the ready at Black Bark BBQ in San Francisco.


On his many walks around San Francisco’s Fillmore District, Chef David Lawrence remembers stumbling upon an intriguing sign imprinted in the sidewalk across the street from his elegant 1300 on Fillmore restaurant.

It read: Kansas City Hickory Pit Bar-B-Cue, 1335 Fillmore.

The long-gone business hinted at the Fillmore’s past as a neighborhood where barbecue once reigned, including in spots such as at 1911 Fillmore St., the former site of Leon’s Bar-B-Q, and now home to the celebrated SPQR.

In much the same way that Lawrence and his wife Monetta White brought back a stylish jazz supper club feel with 1300 on Fillmore to this neighborhood that historically attracted black artists and musicians, they sought to return a vestige of delicious smoke and fire to the neighborhood.

Owners Monetta White and David Lawrence.

Owners Monetta White and David Lawrence.

In January, they did just that — opening their second restaurant, Black Bark BBQ, right in front of the old Kansas City sign that first piqued their interest.

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Join the Food Gal and Saratoga’s Hachi Ju Hachi For A Cooking Demo

MacysHachiJuHachiChef-Owner Jin Suzuki of Saratoga’s Hachi Ju Hachi is so finicky about his ingredients that he even makes his own salt.

At his restaurant, he practices the art of washoku: traditional Japanese food based on the principles of harmony, balance, simplicity and restraint.

Experience a taste when Suzuki joins me for an inspired cooking demo at 6 p.m. March 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

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New Chef Bringing Table-Side Service Front & Center to Bourbon Steak at Levi’s Stadium

Executive Chef Lee Bennett putting on a show with crepes Suzette at Bourbon Steak at Levi’s Stadium.


Raised in Yorkshire, England, Executive Chef Lee Bennett was head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, worked at Alain Ducasse’s Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, and has cooked at events for the likes of David Beckham, and the royal family.

Now, he’s bringing his years of classical training and a bit of British sensibility to Bourbon Steak & Bourbon Pub at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Most notably with table-side service with carts, which he hopes will distinguish Bourbon Steak from other steakhouses in the area.

“The older people remember table service and love it,” Bennett says. “And it’s so old-fashioned that Millennials have never seen it, so they think it’s cool.”

Each day, Bennett plans to feature a rotating special done table-side. It will include everything from beef Wellington or Dover sole finished table-side to bananas Foster flamed in front of diners.

Last week, I had a chance to check out the new offerings, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

Bennett took over the helm at the steak house and adjacent Bourbon Pub in January — just in time for the Super Bowl. Although his wife is American, Bennett says he was still getting the hang of football in the states, when the big game descended upon him.

“I don’t know the game too well,” he says with a chuckle. “But it was a phenomenal experience. We opened up the restaurant after the game because Beyonce, Stephen Curry and others wanted a bite to eat. It was great!”

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Nopi’s Lamb Meatballs with Warm Yogurt and Swiss Chard

Meatballs bathed in a rich, warm yogurt sauce.

Meatballs bathed in a rich, warm yogurt sauce.


A great meatball is a fine thing.

Especially one bobbing in a rich, creamy sauce that transports you from the first indulgent taste to a faraway land.

That’s what you’ll get with “Lamb Meatballs with Warm Yogurt and Swiss Chard.”

It’s from the new cookbook, “Nopi” (Ten Speed Press) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, of which I received a review copy.

Ottolenghi, of course, is the masterful owner of a slew of restaurants in London and the author of several cookbooks that pretty much land on the best-seller’s list every time he publishes one.

Scully is his head chef of Ottolenghi’s fine-dining establishment, Nopi.


The book contains more than than 120 recipes, combining Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern roots with Scully’s Malaysian heritage.

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Pulling Up A Bar Stool At Harvest Table in St. Helena

Smoked trout at the Harvest Table.

Smoked trout at the Harvest Table.


That’s exactly where I planted myself.

On Super Bowl Sunday.

While the rest of the Bay Area congregated in San Francisco for all the hoopla or Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the actual game, I headed to St. Helena.

Not to escape the hubbub, necessarily. But since I had to be in Wine Country bright and early the next day, I decided to stay the night before. It gave me the perfect excuse to check out Chef Charlie Palmer’s new Harvest Table at the venerable Harvest Inn.

Palmer took over the property a year and a half ago. He added a restaurant last spring, taking what was once just a reception area and building it out, though, keeping the ornate staircase and massive fireplace already there to add interest to the modern, clean-lined space.

The grounds have a Mediterranean-country feel with towering trees and a stone courtyard.

The grounds have a Mediterranean-country feel with towering trees and a stone courtyard.

The neatly appinted bar.

The neatly appointed bar.

He installed Executive Chef Levi Mezick, formerly of Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, and he hired Culinary Horticulturalist Laura McNiff to tend the fruit trees and herbs growing on the property.

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