Our very first guide of the week is Sheila! She offers an experience where you create a feast from the San Francisco Ferry Building farmer’s market! This weekend we at Vayable went on it, and it was tons of fun!
Neighborhood in SF: SoMA
Day gig: Events Ninja @ 500 Startups
What’s your favorite restaurant in SF? Hmmmm….. I haven’t discovered my favorite sushi restaurant yet. I’m going to have to go with Plant on the Embarcadero – they have delicious burgers! I also love Shangrila on Irving Street for top rate Chinese food.
How did you get your start cooking? When I graduated college and started working in NYC, I found that I loved exploring the ethnic foods markets and cooking my own meals. I looked forward to making dinner for friends after work and eventually I started putting this passion for cooking online – thus was born Good Looking Home Cooking.
Tell me about your time cooking through Italy:
One day at work in NYC I got an email from a man named Livio who is the proprietor of a villa, Cefalicchio Country Home, in Southern Italy. He had found my blog and invited me to come and work at his restaurant on the villa for the summer months. I didn’t have to think too long before deciding that I would resign from my job in NYC and buy a one way ticket to Italy. Cefalicchio is a gorgeous country home on a sprawling vineyard. It has a beautiful, newly renovated professional kitchen and a bountiful farm and garden. I had the pleasure of working under the head chef, Elena, and from her I learned a tremendous amount about cooking Southern Italian cuisine and working in a professional kitchen. She taught me how to make a divine three-cheese gnocchi, fried zucchini blossoms, ricotta cheese cake, and a long list of other delicious meals. I quickly came to love proscuitto, Adriatic figs, fresh ricotta cheese, Burrata, and homemade pasta to name a few. I also learned that steam burns suck, and cutting proscuitto is super dangerous! Yep, I had my more than fair share of cuts, burns, slips and Italian/English miscommunications.
Working at Cefalicchio also gave me a strong appreciation for fresh and local food. The Slow Food movement started in Northern Italy, and Livio came from the Slow Food University. It’s gaining ground in the US but we still have a long way to go to help farmers sustain their businesses and encourage everyone from kids to large restaurants to buy and cook locally. Every ingredient that went into every meal at Cefalicchio came from within 25 kilometers. You can taste the difference. In the morning, the gardener, Fabrizio, would bring in buckets of produce from the garden. They would be filled with bright green Adriatic figs, delicate orange zucchini blossoms, or shiny red plump tomatoes…whatever was in season determined our menu. When the summer months dried up at Cefalicchio I ventured to northern Italy to stay with friends I had met along the way. Italy is beautiful in so many ways and since we can’t teleport ourselves there regularly – we’ll have to get together to cook delicious, slow, local Italian meals 🙂
What’s your favorite dish to cook? My favorite dish to cook is fish. Specifically Ono – Maui style. there is nothing quite like preparing a meal of freshly caught fish with Hawaiian sea salt, and some fresh vegetables. It’s simple, pure and full of flavor and aroma. My second favorite dish to prepare is salmon – salmon is incredibly versatile. Every Friday growing up my Dad would prepare a delicious Shabbat meal of salmon with vegetables, wine and bread. We once talked seriously about opening a restaurant called “Fish, Bread and Wine” and we would just serve various combinations of these three items. That may happen one day, but in the meantime, I’ll continue experimenting. Something fun to do with salmon is crust it – I’ve made blue corn chip crusted salmon, pecan crusted salmon and even wasabi pea crusted salmon!
If there’s one piece of advice you could give to the amateur cooks out there, what would it be? I hear so many people say “I can’t cook” – my one piece of advice is this: Everyone can cook, just be patient, experiment and enjoy it. Don’t try to rush yourself, cook slowly and savour the entire experince from cooking to enjoying the meal with loved ones. That and buy good olive oil! …hmmm, that’s like 4 pieces of advice
Here’s the recipe booklet from our adventure with her last weekend: