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)
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’.
Yigit Pura’s sublime cake that’s flavored with warm spices and nuts.
There’s no shame in going simple. Not even during the holidays.
Take this lovely cake, for instance.
“Spiced Hazelnut-Almond Mirliton Cake” is the easiest cake recipe in San Francisco Pastry Chef Yigit Pura’s repertoire. But that doesn’t mean it’s not special.
On the contrary, it’s everything you want in a cake — moist, airy and delicately fragrant. It’s a most elegant, light spice cake imbued with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and citrus zest. It’s also gluten-free, owing to the fact that it’s made with hazelnut and almond flours, which are roasted in the oven to really bring out their wonderful nuttiness.
The recipe is from Pura’s debut cookbook, “Sweet Alchemy” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.
Would you believe this is gluten-free?
Pura, the inaugural winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” and the owner of San Francisco’s Tout Sweet patisserie, has created a book that builds on the fundamentals as you go along. Learn how to make Citrus-Scented Panna Cotta and Blood Orange, Grapefruit & Campari Gelee. Then combine both in a gorgeously layered Negroni Creamsicle. Learn how to make a basic Crepe Cake. Then add on Vietnamese Cinnamon Brittle, Butterscotch Sauce, Orange Flower Water Diplomat Cream and Bosc Pears Roasted in Caramel & Indian Spices to create the knock-out Layered Crepe Cake Brulee.
Jacques Pepin and his grand-daughter Shorey preparing to film an episode of his last cooking series.
When Chef Roland Passot informed his kitchen recently that none other than his longtime friend Jacques Pepin had just made a reservation for dinner that night at La Folie in San Francisco, his young cooks flew into a tizzy. They were disappointed that they didn’t get the news sooner so that they could have brought in their books for him to sign. As it is, a few intrepid cooks ran out to the store on their break to buy Pepin’s cookbooks just for the chance to get them autographed that night.
Such is the appeal and admiration of the renowned Jacques Pepin — Emmy Award- and James Beard Award-winning chef and former personal chef of French President Charles DeGaulle — who for generations has proved an inspired teacher not only to home cooks but to countless professional chefs.
Last month, I caught up with Pepin, who left his home in Connecticut to spend most of October in San Francisco, filming his 14th — and final — cooking series, “Jacques Pepin: Heart & Soul.” It will air next fall and include a companion cookbook.
This will become your new favorite chicken dish. It is mine!
Have you ever endured the frustration of cooking a recipe with a mile-long ingredients list, only to wonder at the end why flavor is thoroughly missing in action?
This is not that recipe. Not at all.
Instead, “Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken with Shallots” boasts a quite modest number of ingredients. But the payoff is a dish that is so swaddled in big French country flavors that you will end up craving it again and again.
You may have heard of Rishia’s husband — Andrew Zimmern. Yes, that Andrew Zimmern, the host of the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” show. It’s kind of a relief to know that when he’s at home, he’s not chowing down on scorpions on a stick like he does while on the road.
A visit to Chef Sheldon Simeon’s new Maui restaurant, Migrant.
MAUI, HAWAII — This island’s dining scene is heating up with the arrival of two new restaurants last year, including a fun one by “Top Chef Fan Favorite” Sheldon Simeon, late of the ever popular Star Noodle.
A few weeks ago, I had a chance to check out that restaurant plus the splashy new Ka’ana Kitchen — all courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
As anyone who’s been to Hawaii can attest, big-name restaurants here tend to be not only pricey and touristy, but at times all too predictable. Not these two. In fact, I can’t wait to go back again to both.
Even before he appeared on Season 10 of “Top Chef,” Sheldon Simeon’s cooking drew lines day and night at Star Noodle. After making it to the final three? The place was bombarded with even more throngs.
And now after being named “The People’s Best New Chef — Northwest & Pacific Region” for 2014 by Food & Wine magazine? Tourists and locals alike are following him over to his new restaurant, Migrant, which opened four months ago, as evidenced by the packed tables on the night I was invited in as a guest.
Twilight at Wailea Beach Marriott.
The entrance to Migrant.
The slogan on the menu and servers’ T-shirts says it all: Come to My House. Eat.
Simeon is doing his own style of food here — comforting, Asian-inspired island flavors with little twists here and there. It’s food meant for sharing and enjoying a rollicking time over.