Tag Archives: chefs

A Cuisinart Christmas: Gift ideas for chefs, bakers, coffee lovers and more

Cuisinart released this automatic cold brew coffee maker in March 2017—a great gift for coffee lovers
Photo credit: Cuisinart

If you have last-minute holiday shopping left to do and you have chefs or bakers on your list—or even just people that appreciate good coffee or an excellent toaster!—here are a few gift ideas from Cuisinart. The items cover a range of budgets, too. Some of the products are brand-new, while others are tried and true. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Target, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cuisinart has a new automatic cold brew coffee maker that was released in March, which makes cold brew coffee in far less time than manual coffeemakers. Using “unique spin technology,” Cuisinart promises coffee in as little as 25 minutes in a choice of three flavor strengths. Coffee can be refrigerated in the seven-cup glass carafe for up to two weeks. Retail price is $99.95. The recipe section of Cuisinart’s site includes one for “Creamy Cold Brew Coconut Coffee.”

Another new item—also just released in March—is a Cuisinart “PrepExpress” spiralizer. It’s actually described as a 3-in-1 slicer, shredder AND spiralizer, and can make eating healthier much easier. Uses include wide ribbons or crinkle-cut spirals of fresh zucchini and apples, thin or wide butternut squash or beet ‘spaghetti,’ cucumber slices for salads, and thick or thin shreds of veggies for snacks or fajita fillings. Retail price is $69.95.

I have a stainless steel four-slice Cuisinart toaster at home that I highly recommend. I never imagined how much I’d appreciate having the ability to toast three or four bread slices or frozen waffles at once instead of just two. It sure makes the mornings easier when my husband and I are trying to have a quick breakfast and get ourselves to work and our daughter to school on time! Plus, this toaster has customizable settings for each two-slice section (including food type, like waffle/bread/bagel/English muffin, and a shade scale ranging from 1-7). You can do toast on a darker setting on one side, and a waffle to a medium golden brown on the other.

If you’re looking for baking gifts, Cuisinart has several fun products including a non-stick, dishwasher-safe “Mini Bakeware” line with selections ranging from $5.95-$10.95. I like the mini heart pans (set of 4, $9.95), and Pinterest has a lot of recipes using this type of pan. There are also traditional baking pans like an “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet ($23.95) with silicone grip handles or a non-stick 24-cup mini muffin pan ($15.95).

If you want to browse all of the company’s recipes for inspiration around the holidays or any time of year, here’s the site.

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Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets Pop-Up tickets selling fast

Farm-fresh grilled zucchini, sweet corn, beans and aioli from chef Kendra Baker at a summer 2016 farmers’ market pop-up breakfast. Photo credit: Tara Fatemi Walker

Tickets are on sale for the 2017 season of pop-up breakfasts with guest chefs at the Westside Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley farmers’ markets. The first event (the morning of Saturday, June 3 at the Westside market with chef Erin Lampel of Companion Bakeshop) is sold out, and limited tickets remain for the other three events. Cost is $38 and tickets are available for purchase online and at the markets. See below for more details. I attended a pop-up breakfast with chef Kendra Baker last summer, and it was a very unique, enjoyable experience with delicious food and drinks!


In other market news, there is a May promotion that greatly helps low-income Santa Cruz County residents. Traditionally, the Live Oak and Felton markets offer customers with CalFresh (EBT/SNAP) cards a dollar-for-dollar match up to ten dollars. For example, if a CalFresh customer swipes their EBT card for $10 of EBT tokens, they receive an additional $10 in Market Match tokens at no charge. A $7 swipe equals a $7 match. These matching dollars can be used to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits only. During the month of May, in recognition of CalFresh Awareness Month, the Felton and Live Oak markets are offering a DOUBLE MATCH program. Customers receive two Market Match tokens for every EBT token up to $10. So $10 dollars of EBT becomes $30 at the Felton and Live Oak markets. However, funds are going fast and might not last through the end of the month (chances are you can still utilize the promotion May 21 at Live Oak market, and possibly May 23 at Felton market, but not the following week).

2017 Pop-Up Breakfast Dates and Chefs with tickets still available as of May 19

(for full menus, visit the web site):


Scotts Valley market

  • July 8 – chef Brad Briske of Home


Westside market

  • August 5 – chef Katherine Stern of La Posta
  • Aug 26 – chefs Kendra Baker and Jessica Yarr of Assembly, The Penny Ice Creamery, and The Picnic Basket

Different local chefs are featured at each event. For each dish at these multi-course meals, nearly 100% of the ingredients are sourced from farms at the markets. Event proceeds benefit the markets’ public educational programs including the Foodshed Project. This year for the first time there will be a raffle at each event to raise additional funds for the educational and outreach programs. The prize is a $50 farmers market gift certificate.


Attendees choose their seats by placing their own plates and silverware at spaces along u-shaped, family-style tables beginning at 9:30 a.m. Selections made with ingredients sourced from the markets begin rolling out around 10 a.m. As the guests eat and visit, farmers and chefs share their knowledge and perspectives regarding agriculture, community and consumer choice within the food system. There is also live local music.


The first summer series occurred in 2013, and the farm-to-table breakfasts continue to draw sell-out crowds. For more information call 831-325-4294 or email education@santacruzfarmersmarket.org.



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Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly announces new executive chef Jessica Yarr

Jessica Yarr is now executive chef at Assembly Photo credit: Carolyn Kelley

Jessica Yarr is now executive chef at Assembly
Photo credit: Carolyn Kelley

Beginning this week, Jessica Yarr is Executive Chef at downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly (1108 Pacific Ave., 831-824-6100).


For the last few months, Yarr has been collaborating with The Glass Jar, the restaurant group founded by Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis, on a number of events and projects. These included the Meander San Lorenzo River Dinner, Assembly’s participation in the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market pop-up breakfast series this summer, Assembly’s participation in the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival a few days ago, plus the pastry chef direction of The Penny Ice Creamery.


Santa Cruz Weekly named Yarr “Best Pastry Chef of Santa Cruz” in 2010. She has been serving as pastry chef at The Glass Jar since departing as Head Chef of Mint in Scotts Valley earlier this year. A graduate of Portland, Oregon-based Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Yarr’s goal at Assembly is to continue building a sense of community utilizing elements including passion and attention to detail.


“I will strive to create a menu that tells the story of Santa Cruz and Central California,” says Yarr. “Ultimately, we are here to nourish ourselves and our community.”


Yarr will be working with Assembly’s Sous Chef Trent Lindgren, who has been directing the kitchen at Assembly since previous Executive Chef Carlo Espinas returned to San Francisco earlier this year.

Davis and Baker are thrilled to welcome Yarr to this new role. “With Jessica’s help we are trying to stand on the shoulders of giants,” says Davis. “Theo’s, Gabriella Cafe, Jessica has worked integrally at the well-loved restaurants that are foundational to the best of Santa Cruz dining.”



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Lots of food and wine at biggest Grazing on the Green ever to benefit cancer research

Food at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

Food at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

The 12th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green, Saturday, Sept. 19 at Aptos Village Park, has more food and drinks than ever before! As of press time, there are 73 vendors including local restaurants and caterers, other food businesses, and local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

The event, which is from noon to 4 p.m., usually sells out so it’s smart to buy tickets ahead of time. Buy $70 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $60 each. Admission includes food, drinks a souvenir wineglass, and live music.

Participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors for 2015 include The Crow’s Nest, Café Cruz, Café Rio, Solaire Restaurant and Bar, Real Good Fish, Niman Ranch, Smart Chicken, New Leaf Community Markets, Ella’s at the Airport, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, and Sid’s Smokehouse.

Participating wineries, breweries and distilleries include Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards,  Cima Collina, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Kathryn Kennedy Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Sones Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Discretion Brewing, Seabright Brewery, and Venus Spirits.

Non-alcoholic beverages will include drinks from Tulsi Teas, Pacific Coffee Roasting Co., and Pure Valley Water.

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC’s fellowship program for cancer research, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

More details:
There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College Lot E; parking is also free.
For more information on the event, see sccbg.org or call (831) 465-1989.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz hosts family-friendly Mole & Mariachi festival

Mole ingredients from a competitor's table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Mole ingredients from a competitor’s table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

The 3rd annual Mole & Mariachi Festival is Saturday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park. The food and music festival has free admission. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

In addition to sampling mole, attendees can purchase local food, beer from Discretion Brewing, and other beverages including chavelas (a drink made from beer, tomato juice, and spices). Food vendors include The Penny Ice Creamery and Garcia Fish Tacos.  There will be music and dance performances, kids’ crafts, piñatas every hour, and a raffle.

This year, six local restaurants and chefs—including first-time participant Jozseph Schultz of India Joze—will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local judges led by Patricia Santana will select their favorites. Santana and her husband Leonardo own Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant in Aptos. In 2013 the judges’ panel chose Manuel’s as the winner of the inaugural mole cook-off with a recipe Leonardo developed.

Santana is excited and honored to be a judge this year; she is very passionate about mole. “This year, it will be fun to not compete, and actually get to enjoy other moleros’ creations without the stress of bringing our own,” she says. “I salute every mole maker bringing their best entry. In my opinion, mole is the king of sauces in the Mexican kitchen, but one needs to keep in mind there are seven different types of mole – and as many recipes as there are mole makers,” she adds. “This sauce is a labor of love, and every cook has their own secrets.” On mole day at Manuel’s (Sunday), her husband gets up at 2 am to have the restaurant kitchen to himself.

At the festival, free kids’ activities will include face painting, crafts, bubbles, and a mural project coordinated by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

Four folk music bands will perform: Mariachi Gilroy, Mariachi Alma de Mexico, Mariachi Juvenil Alma de Mexico and Trio del Sol. Also performing will be Estrellas de Esperanza, a children’s Mexican folklorico dance group from Watsonville, and Centeotl Grupo de Danza y Baile, a Santa Cruz-based dance group that preserves cultural connections with Mexico.

All event proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park (including educational programs and restoration and improvement projects) via Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The event encourages alternative transportation by providing free trolley rides from downtown and having bike valet service at the park. For more information on the festival, visit the event web site.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School Street

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing a rojo Oaxaqueño mole)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz—People’s Choice award winner at the 2013 festival, and a winner at the 2014 festival (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole,” a red mole poblano)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Gerald Gonzalez (a home cook from Contra Costa County that will prepare “Mole de Paz,” a mole poblano)
  • Mariquita’s (home cook Emma Pinto Valedez will prepare her grandmother’s mole poblano recipe)
  • India Joze (Schultz will prepare a to-be-announced mole sauce)

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Flavors of Pacific Grove features local chefs, restaurants, wineries

Flavors of Pacific Grove boasts many chefs, restaurants, and wineries

Flavors of Pacific Grove boasts many chefs, restaurants, and wineries

The Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce hosts “Flavors of Pacific Grove: A Celebration of the Great Chefs of Pacific Grove” on Saturday, Nov. 15 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at The Inn at Spanish Bay.

The event is $50 per person and attendance is limited to 300. Tickets must be purchased and picked up prior to the event, which is projected to sell out. There will be live music from The Money Band.

Chefs and restaurants will be serving appetizers, and wineries will be pouring tastings. Featured chefs include Cindy & Ted Walter (Passionfish), Marietta & Pierre Bain (Fandango), Briana Sammut & Guillaume D’Angio (The Beach House Restaurant), Mark & Julie Davis (Vivolo’s Chowder House), Jeff Weiss (jeninni kitchen + wine bar), Gina Juntaradarapun (Pacific Thai Cuisine) Danny Abbruzzese (Asilomar Conference Grounds), Jordan Champagne (Happy Girl Kitchen Co.), Tamie Aceves (Crema), and Dory Ford (Point Pinos Grill). Wineries include Cima Collina, Percherone McFarland, and Pierce Ranch Vineyards.

There will be silent and live auctions—prizes include trips, restaurant certificates, accommodations and golf packages. Proceeds will benefit the Chamber of Commerce & Tourist Centers.

For details and/or tickets see www.pacificgrove.org or call 831-373-3304.

Event location: The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

Local restaurants cook up soup benefiting Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center

A volunteer preparing dessert at Soupline 2010 – credit to Red Bat Photography via Soupline web site

A volunteer preparing dessert at Soupline 2010 – credit to Red Bat Photography via Soupline web site

Eat a variety of delicious soup from dozens of local restaurants and shops on Thursday April 24—the event benefits Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center.

The 15th Annual Soupline Supper and Benefit Auction is at the Cocoanut Grove at the Santa Cruz boardwalk from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For $25 per person or $50 per family (up to 4 individuals), you receive soup, salad bread, and dessert. Purchase tickets.

The event is set up with different tables where chefs serve their homemade soup, with about a dozen available at any one time (selections rotate throughout the evening). Attendees walk around and choose which ones to sample. Public officials and other community leaders serve as “Celebrity Ladlers.” There are lots of tables set up in the dining room where you can relax and enjoy your meal. Buy tickets and read more information online at the special Soupline site.

More than 40 participating restaurants in 2014’s Soupline include Aquarius, The Art Bar & Cafe at the Tannery, The Bagelry, The Buttery,  Café Cruz, Chaminade, Charlie Hong Kong, Crow’s Nest, Gabriella Café, Hula’s, Laili, La Posta, Manuel’s, Sawasdee, Shadowbrook, Soif, The Walnut Ave Café, and Zameen. See full restaurant list.

There is free parking after 4 pm at the Boardwalk lot across from the Cocoanut Grove.

The Homeless Services Center is a community-supported non-profit organization dedicated to the coordinated provision of services for homeless persons. The goal of the Homeless Services Center is to provide both emergency and transitional services to homeless individuals that will enable clients to achieve self-sufficiency.

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Eat up at the 33rd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival

A scene from the 2013 Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off

A scene from the 2013 Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off

This Saturday is the 33rd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The Feb. 22, 2014 chowder cook-off has free admission. If you want to eat chowder, tasting kits are $9 and include five samples plus two “People’s Choice” ballots.

More than 50 individuals and teams are participating, including teams from Aquarius, Pleasure Pizza East Side Eatery, Severino’s, Solaire, South Beach Pizza, Ideal Bar and Grill, and Local Harvest Catering.

The competition features two divisions:

• Best Individual – with subcategories for both Manhattan & Boston varieties
• Best Professional – with subcategories for both Manhattan & Boston varieties

Teams can choose to compete in one or both of the Manhattan & Boston categories. They are also in the running for prizes such as “Most Original.”

Some participants dress in whimsical costumes including mermaids and scuba divers. In 2013, there was a Clam-I-Am team with Dr. Seuss-style green chowder and chefs wearing clam hats.

The 2013 winners included:

  • South Beach Pizza of Santa Cruz (awarded 1st place professional by official judges for Best Restaurant Boston)
  • Severino’s Bar & Grill of Aptos (awarded 1st place professional by official judges for Best Restaurant Manhattan AND 1st place professional in People’s Choice for Manhattan)
  • Ideal Bar & Grill of Santa Cruz (awarded 1st place professional in People’s Choice judges for Boston)

On Saturday, the Boardwalk rides will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cook-Off Schedule:

10:00 a.m. Cooking starts & tasting kits go on sale
1:00 p.m. Public tasting begins (there is also a judges’ tasting)
4:00 p.m. Winners announced

The cook-off is a fund-raiser for the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department. In 2013, the event raised more than $60,000.

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Live cooking challenge at Santa Cruz museum benefits vibrant high school culinary program

Advanced instructor Andrea Mollenauer and assistant instructor Christopher Stephenson from the ROP program are competing at Fire It Up! on March 1. Photo credit: Karen Lemon (also an ROP instructor--in digital photography)

Advanced instructor Andrea Mollenauer & assistant instructor Christopher Stephenson from the ROP program are competing at Fire It Up! on March 1. Photo credit: Karen Lemon (also an ROP instructor–in digital photography)

Tickets are going fast for “Fire It Up!,” an upcoming Santa Cruz event with a culinary student showcase and a live chef competition, with the fun-sounding evening benefiting Santa Cruz’s vibrant high school culinary ROP (Regional  Occupational Program).

The event is March 1, 2014 at 5pm, at the Santa Cruz MAH (Museum of Art & History). Attendees get to sample 10 student-created signature hors d’oeuvres in the student culinary showcase and are given a “Best of Show” ballot to vote for their favorite. Then they get to see the chef vs. chef entertainment which features Chef Andrea Mollenauer and Chef Christopher Stephenson. There will also be a cheese display and beverage table for guests’ consumption.

Chef Andrea, Advanced Instructor for the ROP Culinary class and the talented woman behind this event, owns and operates Lifestyle Culinary Arts catering and special events company. She also  runs Front Street Kitchen, a community-minded commercial kitchen that houses Lifestyle as well as several delicious, independent food producers including Cardamom Tuesday Silk Road Elixirs. Front Street is the location of the ROP culinary classes too.

Chef Andrea created Fire It Up! for many reasons, including the opportunity to showcase her talented students, spread the word about the ROP program, and create a unique evening for the local community. “It occurred to me that as a caterer and event planner, with the engagement of my community, I could put on a smashing event to benefit the students and the program,” she says. “The intention was to give the students a big opportunity to gain hands-on work experience through the creation of a real work-based event (menu creation and testing, ticket sales and donation requests, event prep and service for 200 people!) — with the added benefit of raising much needed funds for our program.”

Buy your $30 tickets (there won’t be any at the door) or get more information by contacting Chef Andrea ASAP at 831-588-4515 or ropculinarysc@gmail.com.

Event proceeds will go towards classroom materials, food, equipment, and student scholarships for the ROP Culinary Program, which offers career and technical training to Santa Cruz County high school students. Chef Andrea launched this popular program eight years ago to teach students real-world skills in a professional kitchen environment. It provides college-level culinary training for hundreds of Santa Cruz high school students and articulates with Cabrillo College, offering students transferable units. Many students pursue advanced cooking education at Cabrillo College and other schools.

I, for one, am planning to attend! It sounds like a great time, and I want to support this worthy program. I bought cookies from the ROP students at their holiday bake sale in December—the sweets were beautiful and tasty, and I enjoyed meeting a couple of the chefs.

Unfamiliar with ROP? It’s a department of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and provides students with the opportunity to acquire career training and technical skills that prepare them for success in a changing workplace and continuing education.  Read more here.

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Fire It Up! location: Santa Cruz MAH, 705 Front St, Santa Cruz

Tickets available for Friday’s debut Pino Alto Farm to Table Dinner in Aptos

Kabocha harvest at Santa Cruz's Yellow Wall Farm, featured at Nov. 1 Farm to Table dinner at Pino Alto

Kabocha harvest at Santa Cruz’s Yellow Wall Farm, featured at Nov. 1 Farm to Table dinner at Pino Alto

As of Tuesday Oct. 29, there were still tickets available for the Nov. 1, 2013 Farm to Table Dinner at Pino Alto at Cabrillo College.

Executive Chef Beverlie Terra, who was with Santa Cruz’s Chaminade Resort for more than 20 years, has moved to Cabrillo College where she is an instructor. She’s kicking off a series of Farm to Table dinners at Pino Alto Restaurant, much like the ones she founded at Chaminade. I was a guest at a 2012 Chaminade Farm to Table dinner and greatly enjoyed it. Terra is a talented, creative chef who knows how to utilize farm-fresh products.

The dinners will be on Friday evenings at Pino Alto, located at Sesnon House on the Cabrillo campus. The first one, November 1, features Guglielmo Wines and Santa Cruz’s Yellow Wall Farm. The second event on November 8 features wine from Burrell School and highlights Fiesta Farms. For reservations, call (831) 479-6524.

The cost is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity, and this includes a four-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings. A reception prior to dinner features wine and appetizers.

6-6:30 p.m. Reception

• Slow roast pork belly bites on sugared Apple
• Deviled Eggs with Sweet Pepper
• Fig and proscuito Canapes
• Wontons with pumpkin and sage
• Crab cakes with pepper aioli
• Pork rilettes with crostini

Wines: 2012 Guglielmo Pinot Grigio and 2010 Guglielmo Sangiovese

6:30 p.m. Dinner

First Course: Kabocha gnocchi with porcini cream

Wine: 2012 Guglielmo TRE Chardonnay

Second: Little gem lettuce with beets, squash, feta and pomegranate vinaigrette

Wine: 2012 Guglielmo TRE Pinot Noir

Third: Lamb chops with pumpkin risotto

Wine: 2008 Guglielmo TRE Syrah

Fourth: Warm apple crumble with persimmon ice cream

Wine: Guglielmo Sparkling Almond Champagne

Location: Sesnon House: 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos 95003

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.