Show 201, December 10, 2016: Mourad Lahlou, Owner / Chef, Mourad and Aziza, San Francisco

Mourad LahlouConsidered by many as the pioneer of modern Moroccan cuisine in the United States, the James Beard award-nominated Mourad Lahlou (San Francisco’s Aziza and Mourad) never envisioned becoming a world-famous chef. Chef Mourad is one of the celebrity chefs preparing a course for The Grand Banquet of Ultimo Weekend at The Venetian. He’ll lift the lid on the tagine for us.

Aziza is currently under renovation. The plan is for it to reopen in February.

The Marrakesh native immigrated to the United States when he was 20 years old to pursue a master’s degree in economics. Missing his country’s cuisine, Lahlou taught himself how to recreate versions of his favorite Moroccan dishes with local ingredients using his own inventive techniques. Most of the lessons he learned about food came from his mother, who cooked traditional Moroccan recipes, and grandfather, who took him to the markets.

Chef Mourad’s strikingly modern reinventions of traditional Moroccan dishes are all about showcasing the great flavors of his native cuisine in ways that harmonize with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients available in Northern California. “I’m not sure I would even call it a Moroccan restaurant anymore,” he says. Like his jet-black tattoos, Lahlou’s food and restaurants reveal a very personal story, one rooted both in San Francisco and abroad, and recount the memories that have inspired his life’s work.

 

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Show 189, September 17, 2016: Amy Guittard, Marketing Director, Guittard Chocolate Company

Amy GuittardWell-crafted chocolate has been the Guittard family business and a San Francisco favorite for nearly 150 years. This rich history is captured in Guittard Chocolate CookbookDecadent Recipes from San Francisco’s Premium Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Company.

With 50 tempting photographs and 60 simple recipes for every kind of indulgence, Amy Guittard, in the Guittard Chocolate Cookbook, presents tried-and-true favorite recipes from five generations of Guittards, ranging from start-your-day-right Chocolate Cherry Scones to fudgey Mocha Cookies and deep, dark Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bundt Cake. Leave it to the people who really know chocolate to make a collection of recipes that are sure to make every chocolate lover long for one bite more.

The classic chocolate recipes in the book are easy-to-follow and doable by the home cook. Many are family recipes proven over generations. For the more ambitious there in the Chef’s Chapter from Guittard’s resident, world class executive pastry chef, Donald Wressell (ex-Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills as opening Executive Pastry Chef). “Chef Donald has a deft touch with chocolate, and brings a chef’s sensibilities to these desserts.” “He explains his recipes clearly, so even a beginning baker can make these with good results.” Look for his well-tested recipe for Grandma’s Chocolate Cake. It’s a classic that comes along with a great story…

Author Amy Guittard (Guittard’s Marketing Director) is our guest. She is the great-great-granddaughter of the founder of the Guittard Chocolate Company and the company’s marketing director. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Show 150, December 12, 2015: Anita Lau, Mad Hungry Woman Blogger

Anita Lau of Mad Hungry WomanAnita Lau is better known to regular listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show” as the Mad Hungry Woman blogger. She was living in Hong Kong in the 90s before the turnover by the British to China. Anita was just back to Hong Kong for a 3-week visit. We’ll get a insider’s view of the dining scene there during the glory days of the British and now under Chinese authority.

Anita will fill us in on the impact of Michelin Stars in Hong Kong and also the best street food. Michelin in now even rating “Street Food” which seems a bit odd.

Anita notes that the big deal celebrity chefs are opening high-profile restaurants in Hong Kong. Gordon Ramsay is already there and Anita crossed paths with Chris Cosentino of “Top Chef Masters” fame there, too.

We’ll also get the morsel-by-morsel details of her favorite dining experience of the trip. It’s French and elegant…Go to her blog to read her full review of EPURE. Beautiful food photography of the meal, too.

Born in Hong Kong and now living in Orange County, California, Anita Lau is an international author and writer who has lived in Malaysia, Australia, Nebraska, Oregon, San Francisco and also, Hawaii. Her obsession with food began at an early age but it wasn’t until her early 20s when her experimentation with cooking led her to start a small catering business which she would run in her spare time while at college in Australia.

 

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Show 148, November 28, 2015: Restaurateur Tony Tollner & Rio Grill, Carmel

Tony TollnerSince 1983, Rio Grill in Carmel, CA has been the place to meet friends, enjoy cocktails, food and wine and experience great dining on the Monterey Peninsula. The high energy restaurant is located at the mouth of the Carmel Valley in the well-known Crossroads Shopping Village and has won numerous reader’s choice awards and inspired food critics both near and far.

Menu highlights include creative regional California cuisine from the wood-burning grill and oak wood burner, as well as Chef Cy Yontz’s daily creations which include fresh fish, pasta, salads and sandwiches.

A Carmel institution since 1983, Rio Grill has enjoyed a long and storied history. Originally the site of local restaurateur Bill Lee’s “Billy Quon’s”, Rio Grill officially opened its doors almost 32 years ago. At that time, Rio Grill was part of the Real Restaurants organization, and was affiliated with such world class restaurants as Mustard’s Grill and Tra Vigne in Napa Valley, and the Fog City Diner in San Francisco.

As part of the Real Restaurants group, Rio Grill staked its claim as one of the region’s most popular choices catering to a loyal local clientele while satisfying out of town guests. As Rio’s reputation grew, the partners of the Real Restaurants Group decided to part ways and Rio Grill was able to stand on its own.

Throughout the years, Rio Grill has continued to evolve. Expansion to the main dining room occurred on two occasions and most recently, Rio Grill completely rebuilt the Santé Fe Room, it’s special events and meeting space. Featuring an open beam ceiling and a built-in “cantina style” bar to complement an updated menu from Executive Chef Cy Yontz, Rio Grill is poised to continue to impress and satisfy both locals and tourists alike.

On the “SoCal Restaurant’s Shows’” visit to Rio Grill we particularly enjoyed the Candied Swine “JOLLY RANCHEROS” appetizer and the House-Smoked Half Chicken with mild-smoked chile butter, artichokes and potatoes. On Monday nights (the night we were there) all wines by the bottle (including a deep selection of vintages from Monterey County) are half-off.

Rio Grill is now one of three properties owned by The Downtown Dining restaurants. Managing Partner Tony Tollner, who was part of the opening team for Rio Grill joins us.

Tony managed Rio Grill from 1984 until 1991 when he and his partner, Bill Cox found the building that now houses Tarpy’s Roadhouse. In 1994, a chef/friend approached Tony and asked if he would consider another venture. From that conversation, sprung the award winning Montrio Bistro. Montrio Bistro, along with Tarpy’s Roadhouse and Rio Grill comprise the Downtown Dining group of restaurants.

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Show 147, November 21, 2015: Chef Jacques Pepin

Jacques PepinRenowned Chef Jacques Pepin has written more than two dozen cookbooks and hosted more than 13 popular public television cooking series. Chef Pepin recently completed production of his 14th cooking series for PBS, Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul for KQED in San Francisco. There is also a newly published companion cookbook of the same name, Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen is an intimate look at the celebrity chef and the food he cooks at home with family and friends—200 recipes in all. There are the simple dinners Jacques prepares for his wife, like the world’s best burgers (the secret is ground brisket). There are elegant dinners for small gatherings, with tantalizing starters like Camembert cheese with a pistachio crust and desserts like little foolproof chocolate soufflés. And there are the dishes for backyard parties, including grilled chicken tenderloin in an Argentinean chimichurri sauce.

Chef Jacques is a true gentleman. He includes his wife’s favorite recipe in the Rice and Pasta section of the book. It’s “Gloria’s Linguine with Clam Sauce” and he shares this treasured recipe with her “permission.”

Spiced with reminiscences and stories, this book reveals the unorthodox philosophy of the man who taught millions how to cook, revealing his frank views on molecular gastronomy, the locovore movement, Julia Child and James Beard, on how to raise a child who will eat almost anything, and much, much more.  For both longtime fans of Jacques and those who are discovering him for the first time, this is a must-have cookbook.

“For this book, mindful that as I approach eighty years old I have a limited number of cookbooks in my future, I decided to gather a collection of recipes that I cook at home today.” Jacques Pepin.

Chef Pepin is our very special guest.

 

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Show 146, November 14, 2015: Master Barman Duggan McDonnell, San Francisco

Duggan McDonnellSan Francisco is a City devoted to drink and other causes. Our guest, Duggan McDonnell, is the author of Drinking the Devil’s Acre – A Love Letter from San Francisco and her Cocktails.

During the 1870s and ‘80s, the Devil’s Acre was a single, bar-filled block within San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast that boasted the wickedest, wildest saloons in America. A few blocks away, marble-floored drinking palaces poured the high art of the cocktail. From this, San Francisco’s electrifying nightlife was born and a few generations later, the city’s farm-to-glass cocktails have never tasted better.

McDonnell (part culinary anthropologist and part whimsical professor) masterfully weaves essays on prominent spirits, insights into San Francisco’s historic love affair with amaro, and recipes for his Bartender’s Secret Formulas together with 25 iconic cocktail recipes made famous by the City by the Bay. The recipes range from the legendary Pisco Punch and the ingenious Mai Tai, to the Gold Rush era Sazerac and the more modern Lemon Drop.

Put on the spot Duggan offers that The Martinez, a Bay Area original, is perhaps the most iconic libation associated with San Francisco. It’s gin based.

A really fun part of the book is Duggan McDonnell’s “Rules For Budding Barmen and Young Mixologists Everywhere.” This is actually the book’s last page.

Chef Andrew asks Duggan to share his five “must visit” bars and taverns in San Francisco. The ultimate pub crawl if you will…McDonnell’s recommendations are Buena Vista (Irish Coffee.) Smuggler’s Cove (rum,) WhiteChapel (gin,) Comstock Saloon (The Martinez,) and Cantina (Duggan McDonnell’s place dedicated to Artisanal Spirits and California Cocktails.)

 

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Show 125, June 6, 2015: Emily Luchetti, Chief Pastry Officer, Big Night Restaurant Group

Emily LuchettiAcclaimed pastry chef Emily Luchetti is Chief Pastry Officer at Big Night Restaurant Group in San Francisco (Cavalier, Marlowe and Park Tavern), the Chairman of the James Beard Foundation, and a James Beard Award recipient. Her new mission is “#dessertworthy”, a social media movement to empower individuals to be mindful of their dessert and sugar indulgences.

“Dessert is being consumed by adults and children at an alarming rate, resulting in troubling health issues, including Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Compelled to take action, award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti launched #dessertworthy in July 2014 to raise awareness about sugar-laden processed foods and to encourage saving desserts for a treat, not a daily occurrence.”

Emily especially advises to be aware of hidden sugar in processed foods. Carefully read the labels of yogurt, salad dressings and tomato soup and you’ll be surprised “how sweet it is.”

Fresh fruit, containing natural sugar, is not an issue. Enjoy…

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Show 125, June 6, 2015: Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti continues…

Emily LuchettiAcclaimed pastry chef Emily Luchetti is Chief Pastry Officer at Big Night Restaurant Group in San Francisco (Cavalier, Marlowe and Park Tavern), the Chairman of the James Beard Foundation, and a James Beard Award recipient. Her new mission is “#dessertworthy”, a social media movement to empower individuals to be mindful of their dessert and sugar indulgences.

#dessertworthy Manifesto

  • To return dessert to its origin, which is to be consumed as an occasional treat and not an everyday indulgence.
  • To build and consistently engage a community of digital supporters that are making active attempts to enjoy dessert in moderation.
  • To raise awareness that consumers should be picky about their dessert intake. Enjoy dessert in moderation and/or earn sweet treats by combining them with healthy eating and fitness.
  • To increase consumer knowledge of processed foods and hidden sugars.
  • To be a resource for maintaining a #dessertworthy lifestyle through tips and reinforcements on digital communities.

Emily also talks about all the good work of The James Beard Foundation best known for the annual James Beard Foundation Awards. Emily is the Chairman of the New York-based, James Beard Foundation. For the first time in the history of the Awards they were held in Chicago. It’s the center of the country so it’s more-inclusive. They will also be staged there in 2016 and 2017.

The Foundation is also heaily involved in education and grants scholarships to pursue education in the culinary arts. The Beard Foundation is one of the key programming organizers of the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano (World’s Fair) running through the end of October. Food is a theme.

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Show 90, September 27, 2014: LUCKYRICE Night Market at The Cosmopolitan

Luckyrice Night MarketDanielle Chang, the founder of the series of LUCKYRICE Night Markets staged across the country, is back with us to preview the upcoming Las Vegas evening at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas set for Saturday, October 4th.

In 2014 LUCKYRICE has already visited New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

“The LUCKYRICE Night Market at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas brings the flavors and sensations of Asian markets from Taiwan to Thailand to the Boulevard Pool. Join celebrity chefs from across the U.S. and Las Vegas as we recreate the celebratory chaos and delicious energy of the quintessential Asian night market experience with a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor.”

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Show 85, August 23, 2014: Chef Michael Knowles, Black & Blue Steakhouse, Valley View Casino

Michael Knowles of Black and Blue SteakhouseThe show was live on Saturday morning from The Valley View Casino. The fine dining restaurant there is Black & Blue – The Place For Steak.

We met Chef de Cuisine Michael Knowles.He started cooking at age 14! Chef Michael cooked at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in San Francisco in the 90s. He has elevated Black & Blue to an award-winning California steakhouse that’s true destination dining for discerning San Diego residents.

All of his pastas are made in-house along with some of the cheese, including the mozzarella. There is a fresh pasta selection each night.

He uses as many local suppliers as possible. His beef purveyor is San Diego’s Brandt Beef. Seafood is from family-owned Santa Monica Seafood (celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year.) Local produce comes from Crows Pass Farm in Temecula and the legendary Chino Farms in addition to other small farmers.

Chef Michael’s “Signature Indulgence” on the Black & Blue menu is “The Ultimate Surf & Turf” for a reasonable $75.00. That’s a meal…It’s also part of a betting challenge where you might get your dinner for free or at a reduced price. It’s interactive and all in good fun…

How about Lobster Creamed Spinach as a premium side with lots of tender bites of lobster?

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