Pastry Chef Goes Savory

Spring garlic risotto with monkfish, as cooked by a pastry chef.

Diners at Parcel 104 restaurant in Santa Clara know all about Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez’s dainty, exquisite desserts that end any dinner there on a sweet, memorable note.

But what you might not know is that the Colombian-born Sanchez also can handle the savory side of a meal.

Foie gras with candied kumquat.

This past Saturday, he hosted his fourth “Pastry Chef Goes Savory” special dinner there. In the past, he’s limited the guest list to about 35. This time around, though, he opened it up to the entire restaurant. More than 90 eager diners, including yours truly, enjoyed a six-course meal ($65; additional $34 for wine pairings), that was orchestrated from start to finish by the humble, soft-spoken Sanchez.

Crispy prawns with pineapple chutney.

Why does he choose to step into this atypical role one night a year?

Anthony Ippolito (left) and Carlos Sanchez (right) of Parcel 104.

“To be a leader in the kitchen, you should be able to do any job in the kitchen,” he explains. “It’s important to me to be a complete chef.”

Yuca fritter (foreground) accompanies American "Kobe'' beef.

In other news at Parcel 104, Executive Chef Robert Sapirman is a beaming newlywed, having tied the knot late last year. Former Sous Chef Johnny Hall has departed for Solvang, where he’ll be working at Bradley Ogden’s soon-to-open new restaurant in the revamped Royal Scandinavian Hotel, which will be renamed, the Hotel Corque. Taking his place as sous chef at Parcel 104 is Anthony Ippolito, formerly of the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach.

Carmody cheese three ways.

If you missed Sanchez’s special dinner this year, keep an eye out for it next year. Meantime, here’s the 2009 menu to salivate over:

* Sonoma foie gras, with kumquat fruit, Sausalito watercress, and raisin batard bread.

Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2006, Paarl

* Alabama prawns, with Maui Gold pineapple chutney, curry aioli

Treana White 2007, Central Coast

* Maine Monkfish, spring garlic risotto, fine herb salad

Sanford Chardonnay 2006, Santa Barbara County

* American “Kobe” beef, fingerling potato, guacamole, yuca frita

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Napa Valley

* Carmody cheese three ways: Bellwether Farm cheese, beignet, and grilled cheese sandwich

Tokay Buller & Son Solera, Victoria

* Columbian flan with chantilly cream, and coffee flakes

The best flan you'll ever taste.

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