Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BAY AREA BOUND

It was an Electric Cloud that brought me into Palo Alto, CA. And after the barrage of recent storms that raged through the state, it was nice to be able to take part in a dinner under much more pleasant circumstances. Electric Cloud is a company that supports software development organizations. They brought me in to put a little White House spin on the evening meal while treating their own employees to a different kind of spin (roulette wheel) for a night of fun and games.

Thanks to the amazing staff at the Stanford Faculty Club, the dinner presented itself flawlessly. It was a welcome relief to come into Executive Chef Jamie Galvez’ kitchen and see how well prepared he and his sous chef Ben were for my visit. The entire staff extended themselves in an adroit manner. Besides, it was terrific to be able to serve my Chelsea Clinton inspired Red Curried Sweet Potato Soup at her old alma mater.

Palo Alto had one other notable dining surprise that came in the form of a truly beautiful Meditteranean dinner served within a setting that evokes the feeling of a seaside taverna. Evvia Estiatorio is a Greek restaurant that gives real credence to what one might imagine the food of the gods tastes like. Located off the main drag of University Avenue, Evvia Estiatorio is located at 420 Emerson Street. It’s easily recognizable by the large wooden glass doors where you can peek into and see the sea of happy diners. And, on this late Saturday night you would have seen me savoring Gigantes (wood oven baked giant beans in tomato sauce, leeks & feta), Mithia (steamed mussels with fennel, tomato, garlic and white wine) and an amazing little salad called Octapodi Salad made with wood grilled octopus, roasted red peppers, and olives. If you happen to find yourself in Palo Alto, Evvia is not to be missed!

Flying into Oakland for my Palo Alto adventure also afforded me a little time to check out one of the Bay Area’s finest farmer’s markets in Berkeley. I went on Thursday night and was surprised to find that the market is all certified organic; the produce looked delicious. Later, I dined at the Chez Panisse Cafe. Because I did not have a reservation, getting a table at the cafe proved to be a little bit of a challenge. After explaining that I had flown in from the East Coast the maitre'd gave me a last minute table with the condition that I would have to skedaddle before the reservations rolled in. The food was prepared with the utmost simplicity, highlighting the natural qualities of each ingredient on the plate. Knowing the history of how Chez Panisse has made its mark in American cuisine made my dining experience a real treat.

Photography by Kiyomi

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

AULD LANG SYNE

2007 was a year in which I never ate alone. Don't get me wrong, I have had my share of numerous “table for one” experiences in the various trains, planes, automobiles, ships, hotels, restaurants, and airports I’ve traveled in across the country. The very nature of my business requires that I willingly submit to the rigors and challenges that naturally come along with it. These challenges have also caused me to witness an amazing amount of support from various friends and family.

The biggest hardship for me has been time spent away from my family. It is humbling to see the abundant care that they offer while giving me their support. My wife Jean, in particular, has given so much of herself. In addition to spending countless hours promoting and maintaining the office matters of the business, she steadily holds down the fort in my absence; for this, I am truly grateful.

This last year's adventure has also brought to mind a myriad of others who have contributed to the success of The American Chef through their kindness and generosity. In essence, these are the folks who have choreographed, worked, and attended events along with others who have promoted and purchased my book. I am also grateful for those of you who have travelled with me through reading my blog (Hi Dad :-). I cannot help but to be thankful for these people who were right there to assist me in making this last year sucessful and memorable. It is because of all of you, in spirit, that I have not truly "dined alone".

Here's to all of you in 2008.