Category Archives: Food TV

“Top Chef” Alum Edward Lee’s Miso-Smothered Chicken

Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.

Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.

If you’re a fan of “Top Chef’‘ like I am, then you’re sure to remember Chef Edward Lee, who is Korean, cooks with French techniques and makes his home in the South.

Those three cultural heritages come together deliciously in his new cookbook, “”Smoke & Pickles” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy.

Lee may be chef-owner of two acclaimed restaurants, 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, both in Louisville, KY. But the food he presents on these pages is the rustic, bold-flavored type he makes for friends, family and even for staff meals.

“Miso-Smothered Chicken” exemplifies that. It’s bowl-food at its best: A mound of fluffy rice  with tender, braised chicken seasoned with garlic, cayenne, orange juice, chicken stock, soy sauce and miso. It’s chicken stew — Japanese-style.


What really makes the dish is the accompanying pickles. Yes, they take a little more work, and have to be made at least a day ahead of the chicken. But one crunchy bite later, you’ll be so glad you made that extra effort. Read more

A Hunky Halibut

A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.

A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.

When I placed this dish of “Halibut and Spinach with Orange-Pine Nut Vinaigrette” in front of my husband one Saturday night, he exclaimed:

“Wow! Fancy!”

It does look pretty impressive, I must admit. Like a restaurant-quality dish. But would you believe it took mere minutes to make?

The recipe is from the new Curtis Stone cookbook, “What’s For Dinner” (Ballantine Books), of which I received a review copy. Yes, those of you who pooh-pooh celeb TV chefs as nothing more than pretty faces should know that Stone, the host of “Top Chef Masters,” can actually cook. The Aussie is classically trained and learned his craft alongside greats like Michelin three-star chef and notorious bad-boy, Marco Pierre White.


The 130 recipes in this book are designed for our busy lives today. They are geared toward different days of the week, such as “One-Pot Wednesdays” when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up, and “Thrifty Thursdays” when you want something delicious that’s easy on the wallet.

The halibut dish falls under “Time-Saving Tuesdays.” Truly, you can have it on the table in about 20 minutes, too.

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San Francisco’s Coqueta — A Tantalizing Triumph

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.



If I knew the Spanish word for that enraptured feeling, I’d be saying it.

Because that’s exactly how the new Coqueta restaurant on Pier 5 makes you feel with its Spanish flair. It’s not only the first restaurant in San Francisco by celeb Chef Michael Chiarello, but it’s also his first foray into something other than his Italian heritage.

Chiarello is no stranger to Spain, though. He’s traveled to that country for years. His eldest daughter also lives there, having married a Catalan man.

Like his smash-hit Bottega in Yountville, Coqueta (“flirt” in Spanish) is all about bold flavors with modern takes on traditional dishes done with whimsy. The former Lafitte restaurant is still recognizable. But it’s been given a major face-lift. The once temporary patio now has permanent walls, as well as a bar, where you can enjoy noshes sans reservations. Inside, the soaring, rustic-chic space is warm with lots of reclaimed wood, oak table tops made from barrel staves, and branded hides on the floors (from casualties from actual bull fights in Spain).

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

The restaurant imports the melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham, as well as cures its own ham. In fact, you’ll find the Iberico even infused in gin that’s served in the “Tariff” ($12) cocktail with housemade acorn & apricot tonic, orange and cava. It’s one of the many creative libations by Joe Cleveland, a former mixologist for Jose Andres’ restaurants.

You know a restaurant has got it going, if it’s strong right out of the gate. Coqueta has set exactly that pace, as evidenced by my visit a mere three days after it had opened in April, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

With Chiarello’s track-record of opening hit restaurants, it’s no surprise just how wonderful the food is at Coqueta.

Quail egg “Diablo” ($2.50 each) puts mere deviled eggs to shame. These tiny hard-boiled eggs are spreared with lovely, sweet Serrano ham and a dollop of sharp pickled mustard seeds. The compact little morsel sure rocks the palate.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can't eat just one.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can’t eat just one.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

Pan con tomate ($5) is the traditional grilled bread smeared with fresh tomato, but made with extra care, by using light airy Cristal, the famous bread of Barcelona, as its base. It gets super crisp on the grill, giving way to the smooth, sweet, jammy tomato sofrito.

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Pop-Ups by Former Ad Hoc Chef, Love Apple Farms Celeb Cooking Demo, and More

Chef Dave Cruz will be cooking in Oakland. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef Dave Cruz will be cooking in Oakland. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef Dave Cruz To Do Pop-Ups in Oakland

You know him as the original chef for Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville. Now, after leaving the Keller fold, Chef Dave Cruz is embarking on a series of pop-up events in Oakland — a prelude to opening his own restaurant some day.

The first dinner, May 18, will feature Chefs Simone Fung and Sebastian Mendieta of S+S Gastropub, cooking with Cruz at their downtown loft on Jackson Street in Oakland. The five-course dinner that night will be reminiscent of the hearty, seasonal meals he did at Ad Hoc. Dishes will include salad of Asian baby greens with slow cooked egg; crisp pork belly and clams; and strawberry shortcake with strawberry sorbet, Tokaiji-macerated strawberries and arlette cookies. Price is $85 per person.

Two seatings are available for the BYOB dinner: 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The exact location of the dinner will be emailed to guests after a reservation is made.

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Maui Part I: Take Five with Chef Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle on Life Post-“Top Chef”

Chef Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle in Maui.

Chef Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle in Maui.


To say that life has changed for Chef Sheldon Simeon would be an understatement.

After placing third in this season’s “Top Chef’’ competition on Bravo TV and winning over viewers to be named “Fan Favorite,’’ business has doubled at his already popular Star Noodle restaurant on Maui. Fans, tourists and locals alike now brave as much as a two-hour wait to get into the out of the way restaurant that serves creative pan-Asian street food such as Vietnamese crepes, and all manner of ramen, soba and saimin noodles – 100 pounds in total hand-made every day on site by one tiny, elderly woman whom Simeon affectionately calls “auntie.’’

The crowds at the other restaurant he oversees, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, aren’t too shabby, either.

When I visited Maui earlier this month as a guest of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, I had a chance to sit down with Simeon at Star Noodle, where in between answering questions, he’d graciously accommodate the many diners who wanted to pose for photos with him. The 30-year-old chef, husband and father of three young daughters who was born on the Big Island, chatted about the impact the television show has had on his career that began humbly enough as a restaurant dishwasher.

Q: Why did you want to do “Top Chef’’?

A: I could see the opportunity it brings. It’s been overwhelming at times, but also a blessing. It was a chance for me to represent Hawaii. I wanted to test myself.

Q: What was the hardest part about doing the show?

A: Every challenge was hard. As a chef, I work alone on a dish. If I’m not satisfied with it, I don’t put it out. But on the show, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m serving this to Wolfgang Puck!’


The dining room has always been packed, but even more so now after "Top Chef'' aired.

The dining room has always been packed, but even more so now after “Top Chef” aired.

Q: Did you practice in any way to prepare for the challenges?

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