“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.
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.
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.
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.