Category Archives: Food TV

Join the Food Gal in Conversation with Chef Hugh Acheson at Santana Row

Chef Hugh Acheson. (Photo by Taylor Oxendine)

Chef Hugh Acheson. (Photo by Taylor Oxendine)

 

You know him for his eyebrow-, er, unibrow-raising turn on “Top Chef Masters,” and for being the James Beard Award-winning chef of four restaurants, including Empire State South in Atlanta.

Now, get to know Hugh Acheson even more when he joins me in conversation and for a book signing at Lululemon Athletica store in San Jose’s Santana Row, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 9. That will be preceded by Acheson doing a cooking demo at 6 p.m. on stage at the chess board area at Santana Row.

You’re probably scratching your head about why he’s appearing at Lululemon, of all places, aren’t you? Turns out his sister works for the trendy athletic-wear company.

His newest cookbook is “The Broad Fork: Recipes For the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits” (Clarkson Potter). The book’s 200 recipes make produce the star — in everything from pickles and salads to purees and sautes.

BroadFork

Never cooked kohlrabi? Acheson will guide you through a few flavorful preparations that will make you a new fan of that root veg that tastes like the love child of a cabbage and turnip? Never heard of a yacon? I hadn’t, either, until reading Acheson’s description of the veg also known as Peruvian ground apple, which grows like a weed in the South and tastes a little like jicama.

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Take Five with Ming Tsai (The Sequel), On His Bay Area Connection, The First Dish He Ever Cooked, and The Only Food TV Show He Watches

Chef Ming Tsai preparing sliders at his Macy's Valley Fair demo. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

Chef Ming Tsai preparing sliders at his Macy’s Valley Fair demo. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

After interviewing celeb Chef Ming Tsai five years ago by phone, I finally had the chance last Thursday to spend time with him face to face, when I hosted him at his cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The 51-year-old James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon in Massachusetts, star of “Simply Ming’’on PBS, and member of Macy’s Culinary Council, is also the ambassador for Family Reach, an organization that offers emotional and financial assistance to families with a child or parent afflicted with cancer.

More than 100 adoring fans turned out to watch Tsai cook salmon salad with citrus and pine nuts, shiitake and parmesan sliders, and almond-oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Tsai is no stranger to the Bay Area, having been a sous chef at Silks at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco way back when. His parents, Stephen and Iris, also live in Palo Alto. His father, a former rocket scientist in Dayton, OH, is a professor emeritus in aeronautics at Stanford University.

After lunching with their son that day at Lyfe Kitchen in downtown Palo Alto, Tsai’s parents drove down from Palo Alto to watch from the front row as their son cooked and captivated the audience with his quick wit.

Tsai joked that after he married his wife and she took his surname, she became her very own major. That’s because she became – wait for it, wait for it, and say it aloud – Polly Tsai.

As Tsai posed for photos and signed copies of his cookbook after the demo, he spoke in Mandarin to some elderly Chinese ladies, and even revealed that his name actually translates from Chinese into “brilliant dish.’’ How apropos is that?

Yours truly working the microphone as Ming cooks up a storm. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

Yours truly working the microphone as Ming cooks up a storm. (Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey)

The huge crowd that turned out for the demo. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The huge crowd that turned out for the demo. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

What follows is a short interview I did with him prior to the demo.

Q: How old were you when you cooked for the first time?

A: I was 6. I made my own Duncan Hines cake – vanilla. I friggin’ loved it, taking the mix, adding egg and oil, and boom – cake!

My friends who were all out playing baseball made fun of me. They were like, ‘You’re doing what?’ But then I sold slices of cake to them for 25 cents each. Pretty smart, huh?

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A Maui Roadshow at Hapa Ramen

"Top Chef'' finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

“Top Chef” finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

 

Last week, a trio of Maui chefs brought their brand of modern aloha cooking to San Francisco.

And there was nary a macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi to be seen.

Instead, Chefs Isaac Bancaco of Ka’ana Kitchen, Jeff Scheer of Maui Executive Catering, and “Top Chef” fan favorite Sheldon Simeon of Migrant, are part of the new wave of young chefs now adding a fresh spin to island cuisine by emphasizing local ingredients in dynamic preparations.

The trio showcased their cooking at invitation-only events last week at Hapa Ramen in the Mission. Call it a cross-cultural exchange, as Hapa Ramen Chef-Owner Richie Nakano is headed to Maui later this year to show off his California cooking chops.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

Wall art.

Wall art.

HapaRamenBar

I was lucky enough to be invited to the dinner for media and travel industry folks.

Appropriately enough, the night started off with a pink-hued Rangoon Gimlet made with Maui Ocean Organic Vodka, lime and angostura.

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Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays 2015 at the Ahwahnee

Chef Duskie Estes' "S'mores in a Jar'' for sampling at Chefs' Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

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.

ChefsHolidaysSign

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

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.

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Join the Food Gal in Yosemite for “Chefs’ Holidays”

Chef Ariane Duarte of "Top Chef'' fame talks with attendees at a previous Chefs' Holidays cooking demo. (Photo courtesy of the Ahwahnee)

Chef Ariane Duarte of “Top Chef” fame talks with attendees at a previous Chefs’ Holidays cooking demo. (Photo courtesy of the Ahwahnee)

 

 

If Santa didn’t leave you exactly what you desired this holiday season, here’s a chance to treat yourself to a real four-star gift.

Imagine spending a few days and nights in majestic, snow-capped Yosemite during the winter, all the while mingling with celeb chefs, and enjoying their cooking demos and gourmet gala dinners.

You can do exactly that at the annual Yosemite Chefs’ Holidays extravaganza that runs from Jan. 11 through Feb. 6.

There are eight sessions to choose from, each featuring three top toques from around the country strutting their stuff in cooking demos before preparing a multi-course dinner in the spectacular Ahwahnee dining room.

The Ahwahnee all decked out for Chefs Holidays. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

The Ahwahnee all decked out for Chefs Holidays. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Ahem, you might be partial to attending either the Feb. 1-4 Session 7 or the Feb. 4-6 Session 7 because I’ll be acting as the moderator at each. Hey, just sayin’.

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