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Market Watch: Shopping with chef David Bazirgan

Every week, Lulu Meyer brings us the best of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and the chefs that shop there.

Last week I shopped with David Bazirgan of Chez Papa Resto, one of four chefs competing for the title of ‘Grill Master’ at this Saturday’s Grill Fest. David is a die-hard market shopper and supplies most of his restaurant’s walk-in with produce he finds at our three weekly markets. He earned his chops working in restaurants in the Boston area but says when he moved to California seven years ago he was blown away by the instant access to an amazing variety of seasonal produce. His menu at Chez Papa combines classical French technique and Mediterranean flavors with a nod towards the variety of the market.

As we made the rounds from booth to booth, David shared his plans for some of what he was picking up. The beets he purchased would later be roasted and paired in a salad with strawberries, pistachios, fava beans, pea shoots and an aged goat cheese. Fresh herbs from Marin Roots would be garnishing a bouillabaisse, three varieties of peas would be used in a Soup du Jour, and he planned to feature plums from Hamada Farms in a duck dish that is new on his menu. The tops of the beets would be incorporated with ricotta and goat cheese in ravioli, because—as David put it—when the products you get from the farmers are this good, you really shouldn’t waste any of it.

David also stopped to catch up with Peter McNee, executive chef of Poggio and his soon-to-be-opponent in this weekend’s sausage grill off. As the chefs chatted the conversation turned to the upcoming battle, but both were careful not to reveal what they were planning for the competition. I got a peek at a few of David’s ingredients, but I swore I wouldn’t reveal them here. Instead, here some other items David bought that I can tell you about:

•    Bronze fennel from Marin Roots Farm
•    Navajo carrots from Heirloom Organic
•    Armenian cucumbers from Hamada Farms
•    Lemon basil from Chue’s Farm
•    Baby Savoy cabbages from Dirty Girl Produce

Find out what Chef Bazirgan and the others have up their sleeves this Saturday at noon in the south driveway at the CUESA Grill Off.