james (and me)

all photos courtesy Alanna Taylor-Tobin/

The James Beard Award nominees for 2016 were announced yesterday and once again San Francisco and the Bay Area have made a proud showing. Below are links to our local nominees, but before I get to that, here is my own personal nominee in the cookbook/baking and the photography category for next year: Alanna Taylor-Tobin of Bojon Gourmet has created her first cookbook due out in September. It’s called Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours. I’ve been following Alanna’s blog for ages and not only are her recipes amazing (and don’t get all hung up on the gluten-free…her gluten-free is not a lesser than substitute for gluten-full, these are recipes that stand up on their own) her photography is out of this world. Her pictures make my mouth water every time. Between now and September, check out Bojon Gourmet and you’ll see I’m right. Come September you can have her right in your very own kitchen.

Now back to James Beard….nominees were announced yesterday right here in San Francisco at the Presidio Officer’s Club. Winners will be announced on May 2 in Chicago. Here are our many local nominees. My next stop is Quince (gotta save a few nickels….this is not for the faint of wallet). Not only is Michael Tusk nominated for Outstanding Chef, but Quince is also nominated for Outstanding Service and you know how I feel about that (here and here)!

Best New Restaurant

Liholiho Yacht Club
871 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Outstanding Baker

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas
B. Patisserie
2821 California Street, San Francisco

William Werner
Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia Street and 1643 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Outstanding Bar Program

Bar Agricole
355 11th Street, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef

Michael Tusk
470 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurateur

Michael Mina
Mina Restaurants (Michael Mina, Bourbon Steak, RN74, and others)
San Francisco

Cindy Pawlcyn
Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Cindy’s Waterfront at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Napa, CA

Outstanding Service

470 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Best Chef: West

Matthew Accarrino
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Dominique Crenn
Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Corey Lee
22 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco

So now make like the Oscars and go eat at all of these fine places before the judges announce their decision. See if you agree! And if you need a date let me know….I may need to borrow a few more nickels.

Keep in touch,

food tv


Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, the Galloping Gourmet and Martin Yan, those are the chefs I grew up with, the chefs who taught me what I enjoy in a cooking show. Current food television offers a much wider variety than days past, much of which makes me want to run screaming from the room. Kind of the way you’d run from the kitchen of a crazy chef. I’ve worked with chefs who rip phones off walls and throw pots. I don’t want to hang out with them in person or through the TV screen. So if you do enjoy that style of food drama, you should probably click away right now.

If you do enjoy a good cooking show, or entertaining romps through neighborhood restaurants, or info about where food comes from, then stick around. Now that it’s raining in California, and I’ve binge-watched all my current dramas through, it’s time to catch up on food. Check out my list…and send me yours too. Hopefully it will rain for a very long time and I’ll binge-watch my entire list while the drops are still falling, then move on to yours!

restaurant shows

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having: Phil Rosenthal is funny. He’s a writer, an actor (well, he was), a producer and the creator of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. And he apparently loves food. So he travels the world with his friends (some of whom you’ll know) and he eats food. He’s done shows in Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He will take you to amazing places to eat good food. And you’ll even learn a bit about cooking.

Check, Please! Bay Area: 3 regular joes and a host anonymously visit 3 of their favorite restaurants then discuss their experiences. Very homey and a great way to stay in touch with the Bay Area food scene.

cooking shows

The Mind of a Chef: How do great chefs think? And what do they cook? Crawl right into their creative brains and learn what real chef-ing is about (and no one in this series will refer to themselves as a ‘celebrity chef’, but they are all the best of the best). David Chang, Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Magnus Nilsson, Ed Lee, Gabrielle Hamilton and David Kinch. Brilliance in the kitchen.

Julia Child: PBS release has released a selection of episodes from various Julia Child’s series. It’s a potpourri of Julia and a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Learn, cook, then see if you can do the voice. ‘Chello….Ihhhhh’m Jhooolia Chaaaiild….’

Good Eats: cooking with Alton Brown, well kind of. Alton Brown isn’t a chef. He’s kind of a geekyscientist who applies his mad science to food. And teaches us how to cook things in a really nerdy but effective way.

more food

Food Forward: Food rebels in the 21st century and beyond. I can’t possibly say it better than they do…‘Food Forward goes way beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions envisioned by food rebels across America who are striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to what we eat and how we produce it. Created by a veteran documentary film making team led by Greg Roden, Food Forward explores new ideas of food in America as told by the people who are living them. Each episode will focus on a different theme–school lunch reform, urban agriculture, sustainable fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science–and spotlight the real people who are creating viable alternatives to how we grow food and feed ourselves.’

Enjoy our rainy weather and happy watching…

Keep in touch,


tires, runways and cutting edge food

michelin poster

Confession: I watch Project Runway. And I spend a huge percentage of our income on food. I did not grow up this way.

My parents took us out to eat occasionally. A typical night out was Denny’s or Bob’s Big Boy. And a really nice night out was the local family run Italian joint, Paesano’s, in what was then the outskirts of Cupertino. Apple computer was run out of a garage and I spent my summers in the apricot orchard down the street. The Michelin Man* was the funny looking cartoon character that sold tires. And my clothes came from Mervyn’s.

Then I went to design school and began working in restaurants to pay the bills…the beginning of both my aesthetic and culinary education. I soon left the South Bay in search of better aesthetics and better food. Now I only return under duress, or when someone in my husband’s family has a birthday.

Cutting Edge Creativity


Recently, as much as I shun reality TV (aside from the PBS cooking shows which don’t count), my daughter hooked me on Project Runway. And I realize that the reason I enjoy it is the same reason that I enjoy the occasional night out in a really nice restaurant: it’s the cutting edge creativity. Food is food, and clothes are clothes. The raw materials don’t change all that much. But when a true craftsperson works magic with those raw materials, they feed my creative soul. when a true craftsperson works magic with raw materials, they feed my creative soul Click To Tweet

Cutting Edge Food

mind of a chef

As a working creative, stoking my fire is a necessity (that’s what I tell Steve when I’m trying to sell an expensive night out), so lists of really good restaurants psyche me. And Michelin just released their 2016 guide. Manresa earned three stars, which means a trip down to the South Bay for something other than a family celebration, right? And after reading up on David Kinch, I’m kicking myself for waiting this long. I’m guessing a reservation is a few months out so I have time to check out his cookbook and maybe even catch a few episodes of the PBS series The Mind of a Chef featuring Chef Kinch. So much to do!

Living on the Edge

And while I’m making plans to feed my creative soul, I’ll work on convincing Steve that we should start ticking off all of the Michelin one star restaurants. I don’t think once a month, okay once every two months, is completely unreasonable. I’ll keep you posted…

Keep in touch

*About the Michelin Man….I finally took the time to research why the tire guy and the fancy restaurant guidebook have the same name. It seems the Michelin brothers who sold tires in the late 1800s in France decided to put together a guidebook for those few people who owned cars. It gave those early adopters ideas about places to drive so that they could wear out their tires, thus building business for the Michelin family. Who knew? Brilliant business men.

Watson’s in the kitchen…

It’s a joke in my house that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. And if I make something once, I very likely will not be able to duplicate the effort a second time.  My problem is not an inability to cook, it is an inability to stick to the program. Any program. So when the recipe calls for an ingredient that I don’t have, or that doesn’t smell as ‘right’ as another ingredient, I just switch. And measuring implements, bah. I know how much a tablespoon of olive oil is! For years I wasn’t allowed to bake…although that is changing slowly and with a great deal of resistance from my family (I’ve learned that baking is chemistry and I’ve agreed to use the called for ingredients and to measure them). Someday maybe I’ll share some of my most embarrassing baking stories. But I digress…

tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash...created without watson!

Tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash. But of course I could never do this again. I didn’t write anything down nor did I measure. Sigh…it was good, too!

Do you remember Watson, the computer of Jeopardy fame?

Well he is apparently changing careers from Jeopardy Human Destroyer to Chef. And if you’re lucky, he will help you in your kitchen. IBM has teamed up with Bon Appetit Magazine to teach Watson how to cook…kind of. Based on the ingredients you input (in my case whatever is in my fridge), the type of dish you’d like to make and the style you’d like to try, Watson will create a list of ingredients and a recipe (actually 100 recipes) to follow using the data collected from Bon Appetit’s 9000 recipes. IBM and Bon Appetit’s intention is to allow the home cook to increase his or her creativity based on the information provided by Watson.

Watson is what IBM calls a ‘cognitive computing system’, meaning that the information that was input into the program is re-organized by Watson and output in a different form….a new recipe never before tried (at least as far as Watson knows), like an Austrian Chocolate Burrito. The technology is amazing and I won’t begin to pretend that I truly understand it, but I am excited at the chance to be part of its development. If you want a chance to play in the kitchen with Watson, here is your opportunity.

Happy cooking! And if they choose me, you can expect lots of pictures!

my friends cook with pearls



Cooking shows have changed since I was a youngster watching The Galloping Gourmet and Julie Child’s French Chef. Every Saturday morning on channel 9 they walked me through the details of recipes that I wouldn’t actually attempt for decades, but that didn’t deter me. As soon as Captain Kangaroo went off, cooking went on. And much to the chagrin of my mom, who was a wonderful cook, I had no interest in actually cooking. What I loved about the shows was how accessible the chefs were, how kind they seemed, and how they explained what they were doing with a love for the process, the food and the eating. They looked like real people, sometimes they made mistakes, they tasted their food and talked with their mouths full, they shared their kitchens as if I were right there with them and they were having so much fun! These were my celebrity chefs, although I can’t imagine either of them using the term.

The cooking shows of today I watch with rarity. Recently I was listening to a show on the radio and the chef actually referred to himself as a celebrity chef. I turned the radio off. So many of the cooking shows today seem to be hosted by people more interested in celebrity than chef, and while they may be wonderful at what chef-ing they do, the celebrity part leaves a nasty taste that sends me in search of a good cookbook.

Then today as I was reading through Marcia Gagliardi’s Tablehopper (an awesome SF dining newsletter that you should all be subscribing to), she mentioned that Tante Marie’s Cooking School is closing and that she hoped that the founder, Mary Risley, would continue to share her cooking videos. Oh my goodness Marcia, me too, me too! Please Mary Risley, do keep making your videos! They take me right back to that childhood happy place with my friends Julia and Graham.

Everyone should cook with pearls…just awesome.

 I know, I know, wrong time of year but this is so funny!

Enjoy the videos with a glass of pinot! Keep in touch,