Q: What are some of the distinctions between today’s
northern and southern California-style cooking?
A: In southern California, it is a cuisine of the sun,
with a lot of Mexican and Asian influence. The north
has a much cooler climate and can occasionally focus
on dishes such as braised meats.
Q: What are some easy ways for home cooks to
preserve the essence of a California summer?
A: Buy tomatoes at their absolute peak and freeze
them whole in plastic zip bags. To use, just throw
them in the microwave for a bit or let them thaw
naturally. I also freeze Meyer lemons whole or
preserve them in salt.
“California cuisine …
allows perfect, fresh ingredients
to speak for themselves.”
Q: What’s the greatest culinary lesson gained
from this region?
A: All menu decisions should be made by your
eyes, hands and nose. Let the ingredients tell you
what you should be cooking.
Q: If you were given a bag of Costco baking
potatoes, what would you prepare?
A: I’d bake them first, puree the potato to make
mashed potato, put the mixture back in the skins
and heat them up. On top, I’d add a salad of
avocado, salsa, lump crabmeat and ancho chile
sour cream. The key is the hot potato versus the
Q: You and many other respected chefs across the
country continue to build a new American culinary
tradition. What do you foresee when you peer into
this land’s epicurean crystal ball?
A: I see the cuisines of South Africa and Australia
as the next big influences on American food. These
two lands took a look at California cuisine and then
notched everything up. AE