Since his motto is FLOSS, one might guess dentistry as Gordon Drysdale’s profession. But guests at Fresh Starts Chef Events won’t forget his culinary skills or his creed: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable.
Chef Gordon has maintained a role in Bay Area dining for many years, most prominently at Gordon’s Fine Eats in San Francisco, and he has stories to prove it.
A longtime Mill Valley resident, he prefaced his cooking demonstration talking about a former colleague who fell on hard times, but now had found housing thanks to Homeward Bound of Marin. Proceeds from the chef events benefit Homeward Bound programs.
“It’s an honor to be here today…those of us who get so much in life should give it back,” he says. And he did, sharing his talent and insights with a roomful of appreciative guests.
Chef Gordon most recently applied the FLOSS philosophy at Scoma’s in San Francisco, a beloved eatery at Fisherman’s Wharf, where he developed a Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad. As guests watched, he plated the delicious combination of tender beets, oranges and avocados with pungent fresh horseradish root grated on top for a little kick.
As he began demonstrating the main course, Diver Scallops with Wild Mushroom Pastina, Chef Gordon explained the recipe had several components. To ease any time crunch, he says, the Wild Mushroom Broth and the Garlic-Truffle Butter can be made ahead.
Admiring the Sierra porcini and fresh morels sourced for his recipe, Chef Gordon praised the students and graduates from Fresh Starts Culinary Academy working behind the scenes. To cook mushrooms well, he added, move them around in the pan and wait for a little bit of color to appear.
Chef Gordon explained the majority of scallops sold in grocery stores have a preservative — sodium tripolyphosphate — added to plump them up. He recommends seeking out “dry or bone dry scallops” without chemicals.
The scallops arrived with Acini de Pepe pasta, a name that means “grains of pepper,” denoting the small size. Though Chef Gordon says Italian friends reserve use of this pastina for chicken soup, he used it to create a tasty depth of flavor, texture, and earthiness.
When it came time for dessert, Chef Gordon acknowledged everybody’s nonna has a recipe for panna cotta. His recipe for Mascarpone Panna Cotta becomes distinctive with a Sweet and Sour Strawberry sauce made from ripe, sweet berries alongside pickled green strawberries. The contrasting tastes prevent “palate fatigue,” he says.
Guests enjoyed pitchers of iced tea from The Republic of Tea, premier sponsor of Fresh Starts Chef Events, along with wine selections from Gundlach Bundschu and Bartholomew Park. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.
Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad – Serves 6
3 red beets, with tops
3 golden beets, with tops
3 avocados, just ripe, cut lengthwise into eighths
6 oranges, Cara Cara or Navel Supreme, segmented with membranes removed
20-30 fresh mint leaves, torn into 60 nickel-sized pieces
9 tablespoons Delizia balsamic vinegar
12 tablespoons extra virgin Arbequina olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh horseradish, for last-minute garnish
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Trim off tops and save for another use. Toss beets with some canola oil, then place in roasting pan with a little water in the bottom. Roast at 350°F until tender enough to pierce with a fork and skin comes away easily.
Let beets cool, then rub off skins using a kitchen towel. Cut beets into wedges, keeping the red and gold ones separate. Toss beets with olive oil and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.
Lay 6 wedges of each beet on a large plate. Next, place 4 slices of avocado on top of the beets, then segments of orange. Drizzle drops of oil and vinegar over plate. Sprinkle the plate with several pieces of mint. Lastly, use a microplane to add fresh horseradish generously over the top of the salad.