Women chefs aren’t plentiful but the South Bay has some talented such females, showing that women can cook professionally just as well as men can.
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in October, 2019.)
Women run the show in family kitchens worldwide but once cooking goes professional, meal preparation typically becomes a testosterone-fueled boys club. According to various surveys, between just 4.7 and 11 percent of U.S. chefs are female, with the lion’s share of compensation and accolades going to the dudes of food rather than the women quietly toiling in their chef’s whites. However, the San Francisco Bay Area has long swum against the tide when it comes to star chefs of the female gender. Consider highly respected women like Alice Waters, Traci Des Jardins, Nancy Oakes, Dominique Crenn and others whose skill and tenacity have elevated their operations and reputations to soar above those of other chefs of both genders. Continue reading
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in July, 2019.)
They were once worshipped by the Egyptians, considered sacred by the Aztecs, found in King Tut’s tomb and were mentioned in the Old Testament. First cultivated about 10,000 years ago, grains played a key role in turning prehistoric communities from hunter gatherers into farmers, helping usher in the creation of settlements and spurring population growth. Much more recently, grains have become a potent food trend, with case shipments of whole-grain products to U.S. outlets jumping by double digits. Continue reading
China-born, Harvard-educated attorney Tian Mayimin switched law for loaves and taught herself to make outstanding, naturally leavened breads of all descriptions. To launch her Little Sky Bakery based in Menlo Park, she learned the craft by studying cookbooks, watching YouTube videos and producing endless delicious iterations that she shared with happy friends and neighbors. Her small, popular operation now makes a wide variety of unusual breads — choices like Nutella-filled challah, blueberry levain with walnuts and a lovely-textured, tangy country bread covered in sunflower seeds — from a 100-year-old starter that has reportedly traveled through France, Alaska, Taiwan and now resides in Menlo Park. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites.
Hayden has been at the forefront of the farmers market revolution in California for 40 years.
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in May, 2019)
Farmers markets have been supplying towns and villages with fresh produce for eons, with these lively bazaars feeding citizens worldwide as well as serving as social institutions in the community. Thomas Jefferson reportedly bought his meat, eggs and vegetables in the early 1800s at a Georgetown farmers market and billions of less-renowned individuals have historically relied on such operations. But unlike in Europe and Asia, farmers markets in America dwindled away as industrialization rose, farms got fewer and larger and bureaucracies interceded.
Gail Hayden helped change that. Continue reading
This classic Mexican street food is being transformed by creative chefs into an unlimited range of delicious offerings.
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in March, 2019.)
Food trends can be fleeting; think raw food, cupcakes, molecular gastronomy and that rusty fondue set way in the back of your grandmother’s cupboard. But some trends have such broad appeal that they stick around, gather momentum and move into the mainstream. Upscale tacos are now in that favored spot, with this traditional Mexican street food having morphed into an anything-goes movement in which all sorts of delicious items are wrapped up — usually in a soft, heated corn tortilla but not necessarily — and snarfed down by a delighted public. Continue reading
Mild-mannered cooking deity David Kinch is a modest, immodestly gifted chef who has brought fame to the South Bay.
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December of 2018.)
In an era when chefs are often tattooed, self-promoting celebrities, with social media trumpeting their latest foul-mouthed exploits, the irrefutable king of the kitchen in the South Bay — and increasingly, beyond — is cerebral, low-key David Kinch, who’d rather be surfing than attending to a throng of groupies. He planted himself in the South Bay in the mid-’90s when, he admits, the region was a culinary backwater compared to the buzzy eating scene to the north. What drew him to this area was that “I found a place that I could afford,” he says, after coming up empty in pricey San Francisco, where he had excelled as the hired executive chef at various prestigious restaurants. Continue reading