Archives for category: Chef

Phillip Basone Eats Out

A few weeks ago some boys started asking me if I knew who the hot new chef was in town from New York City. I put down my nail polish and made a few calls to investigate who this guy was. Phillip Basone is originally from Connecticut, his culinary career got on track when he went through the doors of Barbuto, a Greenwich Village restaurant owned by Jonathan Waxman – one of the pioneers of California Cuisine. When I lived in NYC during the late 80’s – it was Waxman’s restaurant Jams on East 79th that I dreamt of cooking at – but fate had me head in a different direction and I ended up under the aprons of some very hot French chefs. I know what tough work it is in a kitchen, especially when you are as talented as Phillip.

I recently stopped by  Waxman’s in Ghirardelli Square where Phillip is spending most of his time while in San Francisco to introduce myself and have dinner. It’s all true – he is even more handsome in person then the boys say and welcomed me with the warmest hug and smile. Dinner was fabulous and the kitchen executed Waxman’s signature dishes to perfection – especially the JW Chicken & Potatoes! I don’t know how much longer Phillip will be in town, so get your butt down there to get a glimpse of him in his chef whites and eat soon. I’m not promising any hugs though.

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Phillip answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?
I hate to admit it but I just love Oreos dipped in peanut butter…..

What restaurant would you call your home?
Barbuto! It is where I started my career at 18 and have been working for Jonathan Waxman on and off for the last 6 years.

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
I am a extremely picky eater so for strangest I don’t even know where to begin. As far as most inspiring I would honestly have to say this one meal a friend of my father prepared for me. It was pernil, which is so simple yet so delicious. It really set me on this path of incorporating more Latin flavors into my food and relishing in the simplistic beauty of some cuisines.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
Smacks!

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?
Chicken fingers with french fries and a bacon, egg & cheese. Extra ranch please!

IMG_4234Jackson getting a good sniff of Phillip at Waxman’s.

 

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Roasted Frog Hollow Peaches, Rosemary Biscuit & Creme Anglaise at Waxman’s
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Chef Cory Armenta at Booty Call Wednesdays

Chef Cory Armenta at Booty Call Wednesdays

Cory Armenta Eats Out

There is no better friendship in the world then one that allows you to sit down to a dinner with a friend and completely rip the food apart trying to figure out how to make it better. That is exactly what Cory and I do best – besides inspire each other in the kitchen.

Cory is currently the executive chef at Castro Districts family-style Mexican restaurant, HECHO. The food has taken a huge turn since he’s been on board. One that has prompted me to stop by at least once a week for his chili verde. He is also the Organizer and Head Chef or the non-profit Mama G’s Thanksgiving Street Dinner founded in 2009 – which is serving food and hope to the Tenderloin neighborhood over the holiday.

This winter I will join Cory and the team at HECHO  to create a pop-up Tamale Night celebrating recipes I grew up cooking with my family.

Cory and I at Cleve Jones 60th Birthday Bash.

Cory and I at Cleve Jones 60th Birthday Bash.

Cory answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?

I don’t even know where to start. If we’re talking right now during fall season, I’d have to say an apple Tarte Tatin with  vanilla ice cream. Frankly, whatever fruit is in season, throw a great pie crust on it, and I’m sold.  Usually, dessert for me is bourbon and a cigarette.

What restaurant would you call your home?

Obviously I am at Hecho the majority of the time, constantly creating new dishes. When I do go out for a meal, it’s Kokkari. They get me. Everyone should love and know Kokkari.

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?

When I was in culinary school, my classmate/friend was working at Kyo-Ya at The Palace Hotel. I went in for dinner, and was treated to Geoduck clam sashimi…still twitching. That would be the strangest. As for most inspiring, I am constantly inspired by everyone and everything. The simplest meal at a friends home can send my mind racing about what I want to do the minute I get to the kitchen the next day.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?

I have two. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Because duh. Grape Nuts. Because it hurt my jaw to chew it and I believed that’s what being a grown up must feel like. Yeah. I liked that it hurt.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?

I don’t eat after the club. My favorite thing is getting a text from you with a picture of SPAM and fried eggs. The next morning, however…its on.

Cory in the kitchen at HECHO

Cory in the kitchen at HECHO

I am also guilty of these drought changing habits in my kitchen at home. My window plants are thriving because of the left over water I cook with.

Click the image to read the full-story at The New York Times.

The chef Melissa Perello douses an olive tree with used cooking water outside Octavia, her new restaurant in San Francisco. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

The chef Melissa Perello douses an olive tree with used cooking water outside Octavia, her new restaurant in San Francisco. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

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News today of bar Jules closing after brunch this Sunday is a sad thing for Hayes Valley. It’s been my favorite burger spot for lunch for years. Here is an interview I did with Jessica for Apartamento Magazine.

I’ve always loved a neighborhood restaurant. I’ve actually met some great friends at local eating establishments – you know you’ll at least have one thing in common, and thats the food.

When you eat out in Hayes Valley it feels more neighborly than almost any other district in San Francisco. Many restaurants here have seemed to find their niche and become great staples in our city, garnering cultish obsession and faithful followers in the devoted eaters that call this neighborhood home. A great example is Hayes Street Grill which has been serving opera, symphony and ballet patrons for more than 30 years and continues to stay true to its clientele with its passionate staff and their signature dishes.

Resting on the western edge of Hayes Valley at the end of the strip, bar Jules is six years old. To the uninitiated, this little 38-seat restaurant may be just another in a burgeoning atmosphere of San Francisco institutions committed to serving sustainable fish, meats, and produce from the best small farmers in the area but for all of the years that I’ve been dining and shopping on Hayes Street bar Jules has managed to virtually redefine the lines of what is considered to be Hayes Valley. The location offers a feeling that is both edgy and sophisticated.

Owner Jessica Boncutter has worked at Zuni Cafe and as the chef at Hog Island Oyster Co, two of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco. Here she spends her time working the restaurant as a mother would in her own home. The menu at bar Jules isn’t fancy or punched with tons of trendy ideals – in fact they don’t even bother printing one out for you, it’s written on a blackboard.

The wonderful thing about bar Jules is that it feels so much like an integral part of the community, you’d think it had been where it is longer than it has.

How long have you been in Hayes Valley?
Bar Jules opened in November of 2007.

What attracted you to open your business in Hayes Valley?
I loved that it felt both edgy and sophisticated at the same time.

More than any other Hayes Valley restaurant, Bar Jules appears to be a classic model for a neighborhood institution. Was this your intention when you opened it?
Thank you! Yes that was my intention above everything else!

Your menu changes so often – what have your regulars made you keep on it?
I think the regulars like that the menu changes. It feels like going over to a friend’s house for dinner.

What have the challenges been in basing your restaurant around a menu that changes daily?
Writing menus everyday can be hard. Sometimes you think dang it would be much easier if I had opened a Houston’s.

Hayes Valley seems to be in a constant state of evolution. Would you say the ever-shifting menu is reflective of this?
I hope so. I feel very proud that Bar Jules still feels fresh and unique after being open for 6 years.

Who are some of your culinary heroes?
Some of my culinary heroes include Julia Child, Rose Gray and Ruthie Rogers from the River Cafe, Judy Rodgers from Zuni Cafe, Carol Bever from Zuni Cafe,  Diana Kennedy and Margot and Fergus Henderson from St John, and Rochelle Canteen respectively.

Is the menu at bar Jules reflective of what you actually eat on a day to day basis? Describe your ideal lunch or dinner.
Yes it is. I usually eat very simply with a lot of vegetables.

Do you have any aspirations on opening up another restaurant in San Francisco?
I do and I don’t. Sometimes your personal touch can be lost if you are running more than one restaurant at a time.

Is there or has there ever been something you love that has been unsuccessful on the menu?
Beef tongue for obvious reasons. It is so delicious and anyone brave enough to order it is solo happy.

Many of my good friends are frequent diners at the restaurant and all of them talk about it as though it is there second home. What has inspired you to create that atmosphere at bar Jules?
I have always loved the idea of a canteen or a neighborhood restaurant. Nothing makes me happier than to have regular customers.

You have worked at two other local San Francisco restaurants that are staples for me – Zuni Cafe and Hog Island Oyster Company. What did you take away from those experiences?
Zuni Cafe and Hog Island Oyster Company were very different from each other. What was similar about the two of them was the dedication to the best quality ingredients.

I’ve been toying with the idea of opening a cafe / restaurant in San Francisco for years. Can you give me a sage piece of advice?
Don’t do it! Ha ha just joking. Like anything that is worth something in life, it’s a ton of hard work.

I have a blog titled Juanita Eats Out and I like to ask friends a few questions about their eating habits. What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
Casu marzu – it is a sheep cheese that has worms (live insect larvae) in it from Sardinia.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
We had to eat grape nuts growing up – but I loved Lucky Charms.

What is your favorite dessert?
My favorite dessert is simple – cheese.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after a late night?
I love to grab Chinese food after a late night.

What is always in your refrigerator at home?
I always have Champagne in my refrigerator.

Where did the name bar Jules come from?
Bar Jules is named after my old lady dog Jules. She is an 18 year old basset hound that I have had since she was three months old. She is the love of my life.

Taco MORE! Custom Apron

Taco MORE! Custom Apron

 

This limited edition custom Taco MORE! apron is available by following the link on the image.
100% Cotton Canvas with black cotton twill tape straps
Black ink / heat transfer silk-screen
27″Wx34″L
Artwork by Dave Davenport, 1996
Custom made by Mr. David Couture

The HECHO Valentine Dinner staff!

The HECHO Valentine Dinner staff!

Thank you to everyone that came to the Valentine Dinner at HECHO – it was such a huge success. I want to give some special love to the great talents of Chef Cory Armenta for executing my families simple home recipes with so much respect and style. Our sous chefs Cole Church, Sean Lackey & Michael Christopher made working in the kitchen such an absolute joy. And, a special thank you to HECHO owners Dana Gleim and Jesse Woodward for letting me do it!

You can find most of the recipes right here on my food blog. The Tomatillo & Chipolte Salsa, Anaheim Chile and Chicken Stew and my grandmothers Capirotada (we served it with Humphry Slowcombe Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream.

I so enjoyed cooking for you and look forward to more food projects in the future! You can join my mailing list HERE to get updates about all kinds of amazing events!

Images by Uel Renteria from the event can be found in this ALBUM on my Facebook profile.

Loads of Love,
Juanita

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