View all posts filed under 'Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al'

Ad Hoc and Bouchon Bakery Gluten-Free Mixes

Thursday, 30. August 2012 5:25

Yup, these are gluten-free.

For those suffering from gluten allergies or intolerance, Chef Thomas Keller comes to the rescue.

His line of baking mixes, sold exclusively by Williams-Sonoma, makes use of his own “Cup 4 Cup”  custom-blended gluton-free flour, which has proven a runaway hit. Cup 4 Cup, which also is sold at Williams-Sonoma for $19.95 for a three-pound bag is in such high demand that when I tried to get a sample bag earlier this year, I was told it was on back order for three months. It’s a blend of cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum that can replace all-purpose flour in a recipe in a direct 1-to-1 ratio.

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, General, New Products, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (11) | Author:

Take Five with Will Pacio, On His Journey from Stanford University to Per Se to the French Laundry and Finally to Spice Kit

Wednesday, 29. August 2012 5:25

Chef-Restaurateur Will Pacio of Spice Kit. (Photo courtesy of Will Pacio)

When Will Pacio was studying for his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Stanford University, little did he know he’d be returning to Palo Alto a decade later – not as a doctor, as he first imagined, but as a seasoned restaurateur who has since cooked for the likes of Thomas Keller.

The fact that Pacio used to doodle images of pork buns in his notebooks during his morning biology class, though, no doubt helped clue him into what his true passion was.

Peninsula diners are all the better for it, too, as Pacio’s second fast-casual Spice Kit restaurant opened on California Avenue earlier this month, serving up pillowy, steamed pork belly buns, spicy ssam rolls and Vietnamese-style short-rib baguette sandwiches.

It’s a similar menu to his first Spice Kit, which opened two years ago in San Francisco. But the Palo Alto locale also features a kids’ menu and outstanding vegetarian buns stuffed with shiitakes, cucumbers and crushed peanuts.

Pacio, who worked at Keller’s Per Se in New York and French Laundry in Yountville, founded Spice Kit with business partner, Chef Fred Tang, formerly of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.

The famous pork buns at Spice Kit. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The fabulous veggie buns at the Palo Alto locale. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

I had a chance to sit down with the 32-year-old Pacio to talk about how sheer tenacity landed him the job at Per Se, his nerve-wracking experience cooking for Keller for the first time, and what his doctor-father thought about him turning his back on med school.

Q. How in the world did you go from wanting to become a doctor to wanting to become a chef?

A. It was a year after graduation, when I was working as a researcher at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto and applying to medical schools. My roommate (Stephen Chau, another Stanford graduate, who went on to invent Street View at Google) was working at Goldman Sachs, so he was never home.

We lived behind the Menlo Park Left Bank restaurant. So, one day, I just knocked on the back door and asked Chef Christopher Floyd if I could work for free. The next thing I knew, I was working there for three months, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., chopping lots and lots of onions. Probably 100 pounds at a time. I shucked a lot of oysters, too. Then, later, I was allowed to do plated desserts.

In college, we’d eat out a lot. In my junior year, nine friends and I went to the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. It was when Laurent Gras was still the chef. I think it was my first fine dining experience. It was the first time I had foie gras. We had no credit cards. So, I just remember this stack of $2,000 in bills sitting on the table afterward.

I had friends in New York, so I’d go visit them. I ate at Daniel and Blue Ribbon. All the money I was making was going to food and eating out. Soon, I started wondering how to make some of the things I was eating.

Q: Your father is a doctor. One of your sisters is a doctor. You were supposed to be a doctor. What was it like telling your parents that you wanted to be a chef?

A: It was a brutal conversation. There was a lot of yelling. There was a lot of ‘No way!’ and ‘No how!’

I’d already applied to the French Culinary Institute in New York when I told them. So, I told my parents I’d go to culinary school and then get an MBA. That’s how I sold it to them. But, of course, I never did get the MBA.

Q: How’d you go straight from culinary school to working with one of the best chefs in the world?

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Category:"Take Five'' Q&A, Chefs, General, Restaurants, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (7) | Author:

Michael Mina Happenings & Tomato Dinners

Friday, 24. August 2012 5:25

The signature tuna tartare at Michael Mina restaurant. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Surprising New Chef at Michael Mina Restaurant, Plus a Bar Treat

Ron Siegel, who was on the opening team at the French Laundry in Yountville and the first American ever to defeat an “Iron Chef” on the original Japanese cult cooking show, is the new head chef at Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco.

For Siegel, who has spent nearly a decade at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, it’s a home-coming of sorts.

Chef Mina first hired Siegel as a line cook in 1991 at Aqua, the restaurant that used to operate on the same spot where Mina’s eponymous flagship now is.

In the ensuing years, Siegel, a Palo Alto High School grad, worked at Daniel in New York, then became head chef at Masa’s in San Francisco, Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco, and both the Dining Room and its new incarnation, Parallel 37, at the Ritz-Carlton.

Chef Ron Siegel will be the new chef of Michael Mina restaurant. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

“Michael has been a mentor since the early days of my career and it is an honor for me to join the Michael Mina San Francisco team, cooking alongside him,” said Siegel, in a statement.

Siegel will start in September.

Meantime, Michael Mina restaurant wants to entice visitors to its swank bar by offering its famous tuna tartare for a special price of $10 (regularly $19).

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Category:Chefs, Fruit, General, Restaurants, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (8) | Author:

Fruit Pie Time, French Laundry Luxe Gift Cards & More

Thursday, 5. July 2012 5:25

Adorable little cherry pies at Madera restaurant in Palo Alto. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Fruit Pies Around the Bay Area

There are cake people. And there are pie people.

For pie lovers, you can’t ask for a better time to indulge than summer when fresh fruit ones abound.

At Madera restaurant in the Rosewood Sand Hill resort in Palo Alto, get a taste of warm tart cherry hand-pies with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream ($10).

At San Francisco’s Bluestem Brasserie, enjoy more hand-held pies. Its “Happy Camper Pies” ($9.50) are filled with fruit-herb jam and seasonal fruit. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream accompanies, as what’s pie without ice cream, right?

Perfect for one -- "Happy Camper Pie'' at Bluestem Brasserie. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Crisp peach fry pie at Prospect restaurant. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Prospect in San Francisco get a load of peach fry pie ($9.50) — little pies fried up crisp with a filling of Blossom Bluff peaches, then garnished with raspberries, tayberries and Bavarian buttermilk ice cream.

Traditionalists will revel in the apple pie with brandied cherries and cheddar tuille ($10) at Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco.

French Laundry and Per Se Launch “Experience Cards”

These may very well be the ultimate gift cards.

No longer will Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville and Per Se in New York issue issue plain ol’ gift certificates made of paper. Nope, now you can purchase “Experience Cards,” made of sleek metal and sent in an elegant bow-wrapped box.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, Food TV, Fruit, General, Restaurants, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (10) | Author:

Chef Chris Cosentino Visits Palo Alto, Fun Classes at NapaStyle & More

Monday, 14. May 2012 5:26

Chef Chris Cosentino on Tuesday in Palo Alto. (Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell)

Meet Chris Cosentino at Williams-Sonoma

The offal-good chef, Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Incanto, will sign copies of his new cookbook, Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal (Weldon Owen) at Williams-Sonoma at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, 2 p.m. May 15.

In a departure from his trademark head-to-tail cooking that makes use of organ meats and every other odd bit, his cookbook spotlights 60 recipes for Italian first-courses through the seasons.

Books must be purchased at Williams-Sonoma in order to be signed.

La Boulange Opens in Downtown Palo Alto

The Bay Area’s La Boulange is opening its 19th locale — this newest one in downtown Palo Alto at 151 University Ave. Doors will open May 16.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (6) | Author: