Chef Bryan Jones Presents Top Recipes

It’s a rare event when the #1 Restaurant in America comes to you. That’s what happened when Chef Bryan Jones of St. Francis Winery arrived at Fresh Starts Chef Events.

Chef cuts cucumber

Chef Bryan Jones begins his cucumber gazpacho

The winery’s dining room has twice been voted that top honor by Open Table diners, with Chef Bryan at the helm for the most recent award in 2015.

The evening began with Chris Silva, chief executive at St. Francis Winery, talking briefly about the winery’s history and its sustainable wines. The winery’s commitment to sustainable food includes a 2-acre kitchen garden.

That garden provides inspiration for the chef, who says he has cooked since his early years, admitting that “my mother was a horrible cook.” He trained at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and before coming to the winery, spent nine years as chef and general manager at Sondra Bernstein’s fig café in Glen Ellen.

He demonstrated his most requested recipe, Cucumber Gazpacho with Cucumber-Mint Granita, as the first course. Easy to prepare and made ahead of time — the granita has to

Bowl of Cucumber Gazpacho

Summer starter: Cucumber Gazpacho with Cucumber-Mint Granita

freeze for about three hours — it is a perfect warm-weather starter.

The dish uses a high-quality extra virgin olive oil — “to give it a nice mouthfeel,” the chef says — and vinegar to balance the oil’s richness. The result was much tastier than familiar tomato versions and paired with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from the Dry Stack Vineyard in Bennett Valley.

Chef Bryan next prepared Brick Chicken with Grilled Romaine & Salsa Verde, also a dish that needs advance work but little heat in the kitchen. He demonstrated how to carefully de-bone the chicken with skin intact, then top with the “brick” – a preheated cast-iron skillet wrapped in aluminum foil – as the chicken goes on the grill.

Chef de-bones chicken

Chef Bryan Jones shows how to debone chicken

Salsa verde, drizzled over the chicken and lettuce, added “oomph” with capers, anchovy and orange zest. The flavors paired perfectly with a 2013 Cabernet Franc (Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley).

A dessert of Bruleéd Apricots with Honey Crème Anglaise, also a make-ahead project, requires enough work to put off some home chefs: cooking over a water bath, stirring constantly, cooling in an ice bath — and that’s just the custard. The feuille de brick (a French-Tunisian pastry), apricots, and apricot mascarpone have their own prep as well.

Surprisingly, the 2013 Banti Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was a wonderful complement to the dessert — Chef Bryan described it as “soft and elegant.”

The Republic of Tea, premier sponsor of the events, offered iced tea to refresh between courses. Taken together, the three courses and wine pairings created an elegant evening. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.

Chef Bryan Jones-16_crop

Cucumber Gazpacho with Cucumber-Mint Granita – Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the gazpacho:
2 English cucumbers, peeled and seeded
3 sprigs green onions, base and top ⅓ removed (use white part only)
2 medium cloves of garlic
1 cup diced baguette, crust removed
3 tablespoons toasted almonds
1 tablespoon Moscato vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 cup ice

For the granita: 
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice
¾ cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
3 mint sprigs
1 pound English cucumbers, peeled and seeded

Directions: 

For the gazpacho:
Dice the cucumbers. Combine cucumbers, green onions, garlic, baguette, almonds, lime zest and lime juice in blender and mix until smooth.

Add the ice, vinegar and olive oil, then purée until smooth.

For the granita:
Place lime zest, lime juice, sugar, salt and water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil for 1 minute, then add the mint and remove from heat to steep for 10 minutes.

Add the ice, vinegar and olive oil, then purée until smooth.

To serve: Ladle the gazpacho into a bowl, top with a scoop of granita and top with micro-cilantro.

 

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About Fresh Starts Chef Events

Fresh Starts Chef Events offers a parade of presentations by celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and artisan producers in The Key Room. Visit the online calendar at http://bit.ly/FSchefevents for upcoming events. Our list of presenters includes luminaries from the worlds of food, wine and restaurants who share stories, demonstrate techniques and offer tips on making the most of our local bounty. You can register online for upcoming classes or call us for more details at 415-382-3363 x243. Proceeds from our events support shelter and job-training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin; learn more at www.hbofm.org and www.thekeyroom.com.
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