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Inside the Kitchen

For some, cooking is therapeutic. For me, it’s watching people cook that soothes me—that’s why when I had cable, the Food Network was my go-to channel. I actually felt like Rachel and Giada were my buddies. But as TV chefs often lament, we still don’t have smellivision—or tastevision for that matter—which means we don’t get to experience the full effect of a well-cooked meal.

That was one reason why I was excited to attend last week’s Inside the Kitchen class at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay—where, not only did we get to converse with the chef, but we also were able to watch as he transformed raw ingredients into dishes that tasted as good as they smelled. The series takes place during the summer and winter, with classes showcasing a different top chef, usually from San Francisco. There’s even a weekend series covering mixology and the art of cocktail making coming up this August.

Executive Chef Mark Gordon

Last Friday’s class was led by Executive Chef Mark Gordon of Terzo—one of my favorite small plates restaurants in the city. In front of about 30 eager foodies, in a room with dramatic views of ocean waves, he prepared three dishes representing the flavors of the Mediterranean (which, he pointed out, includes influences from more than just Spain, France and Italy, but also Northern Africa and the Middle East).

During the two-hour session, we learned how easy it was to prepare artichokes—and how intricate making romesco sauce is (hint: it involves frying nuts and using a mortar and pestle). And I know that one of these days I will get around to making his slow-cooked salmon and fennel salad—that was surprisingly simple.

Artichokes alla Romana with Chiles and Reggiano Parmesan

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco and Fried Egg

Slow Cooked Wild King Salmon with Herbs and Fennel Salad

We splurged and spent the night at the hotel—talk about posh! And on the drive home, we stopped at a fruit stand on highway 92 to pick up a flat of strawberries for only $6—needless to say, my berry bowl’s going to be full for awhile.