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What local chefs are eating at home


Most Wine Country chefs like to keep it simple at home, especially after being on their feet all day preparing multi-course meals.

"The last thing you want to do when you get home is cook again," said Gabe Nahas of the Awful Falafel food truck. "I love making chicken soup, because it's easy and it lasts a couple of days."

In our informal survey of 10 local restaurant chefs, we found out how these culinary whiz kids throw together dinners with high flavor, low fuss and little or no cleanup.

Utilizing what's on hand — produce and eggs from the backyard, leftovers and a can of beans or sardines — our chefs manage to turn out a tasty array of tacos and sandwiches, grilled meats and pastas, Asian stir-frys and soups. Just like the rest of us.

"I'll take stock of what's available," said Brandon Guenther, chef/owner of Rocker Oysterfeller's in Valley Ford, "then challenge myself to make something delicious out of what's there."

Cheese and salumi are two of the most popular go-to ingredients chefs always keep on hand, especially for late-night snacking. But beer is also deemed essential, especially after a long, hot night at the stove.

"My favorite beer is Dos Equis Amber," said Carlo Cavallo of Sonoma Meritage Restaurant and Oyster Bar. "I've got a big wine cellar at home, but I don't drink wine at home."

<strong> Brian Anderson of Bistro 29 in Santa Rosa:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "When I do cook, it's usually some kind of pasta. The other day, I made a Thai noodle soup with curry."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "We always have a can of sardines in our pantry, and some kind of cheese and salame in our refrigerator."

<strong>Carlo Cavallo of Meritage in Sonoma:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "I cook very simple Asian dishes at home. I'll do a very spicy Thai or Vietnamese soup or stew. I really love to barbecue, so I'll do ribs or chicken. Or I'll cook a fish taco or fajitas. Comfort food for me is very basic ... my grandma's tomato-basil sauce over spaghettini."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Some good Parmesan, goat cheese and salame for my late-night snack."

<strong> Duskie Estes of Zazu Kitchen and Farm in Sebastopol:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "We always have bacon fat, so we eat a lot of popcorn in the bacon fat. (Daughter) McKenzie is raising rabbit, so rabbit taco is our favorite go-to dish. And every Tuesday night, we make bacon s'mores for dessert."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Bacon and salumi and cheese, and usually there's avocado and salsa and chips. I like the Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas from La Tortilla Factory. I put them in the toaster and smear cheese on them, and we use them for the rabbit tacos."

<strong> Chris Greenwald of Bay Laurel Culinary catering company in Petaluma:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "I like to eat sandwiches, so I always have an array of cold cuts and cheeses in the drawer, and really good bread from Full Circle Bakery in Penngrove. We also like Della Fattoria's Pullman loaves. I slice it extra thick, melt cheese and throw on coppa or Molinari salame. There's always Parmesan, because we cook a lot of simple pastas."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Leftover pate or rillettes, and a bottle of bubbles. Really good butter and a can of Clover Organic Whipped Cream for dessert, and milk chocolate."

<strong> Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller's in Valley Ford:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "I'll grill up eggplant and make a tomato sauce to go with it. Or I'll do tacos and tostadas, with a little leftover pork."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Pasta, tomato sauce, hot sauce, corn tortillas, chicken wings and beer."

<strong> Jeffrey Madura of Jeffrey's Hillside Cafe in Santa Rosa:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "I do a lot of stuff on the grill. ... I love chicken thighs with a dry rub. I have cast-iron skillets from my mother that I use on the barbecue. I heat them up, then do vegetables or a stir-fry, and serve it with udon or rice noodles."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Soy sauce and some kind of fresh noodles for stir-frys, plus broccoli, zucchini and carrots. Blue cheese, fromage blanc and a couple of wedges of Manchego. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil for salads and pastas."

<strong> Jeff Mall of Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar in Healdsburg:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "It's usually quick pastas from the garden, with tomatoes and peppers, or we go to the henhouse for eggs. Yesterday, I had an Eastside Farm breakfast sandwich: grilled bread, bacon, hot sauce and eggs."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Dried pasta and cans of beans. Pickles, hot sauce, beer, butter and a lot of eggs. We buy the sliced Alvarado Street multi-grain (bread), and we always have peanut butter and jelly that we made."

<strong> Gabe Nahas of Awful Falafel food truck in Santa Rosa:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "I lean toward Asian food, which has a lot of flavor and spice, or Indian food. We'll do lettuce wraps with leftover chicken, kimchi and cilantro (*recipe at end of story). I try to smoke brisket and ribs once a week."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Vegetables from our garden, like kale and oregano and thyme. In the kitchen, there's always chicken."

<strong> Josh Silvers from Jackson's Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "We get a porterhouse steak from Oliver's Market — it feeds the three of us — salt and pepper it, give it a good sear in a cast-iron pan, and slice it off the bone. The dog gets the bone. Then my wife makes a salad with a dressing that my mom used to make. It's quick and easy."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Sriracha and Tabasco and Tapatio (hot sauces), milk and eggs, salad and cheese."

<strong> Ari Weiswasser of Glen Ellen Star:</strong>

<strong>Dishes:</strong> "On the rare occasion I cook, I'll do whole roasted chicken with kale salad, grilled mild and spicy sausages with whole grain mustard, or turkey chili."

<strong>Staples:</strong> "Almond milk, Aleppo chili flakes, hard apple cider, Whole Foods house-roasted turkey, cashews and dried mango."

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*This recipe is from Gabe Nahas of Awful Falafel food truck. He cooks a whole chicken, uses half the chicken to make chicken soup, and then uses the other half for to make these lettuce wraps a day later. You can find ready-made kimchi and Asian dressing at Trader Joe's.

<strong>Chicken Lettuce Wraps</strong>

<em> Makes 2 servings</em>

1 cup cilantro

1/2 cup shredded carrot

— Thinly sliced jalape? peppers, to taste

— Asian dressing

1/2 chicken, picked of its meat

6 to 8 pieces of lettuce, preferably red leaf

— Kimchi, to taste

— Steamed jasmine rice

Dress the cilantro, mint, carrots and jalapeno with your favorite Asian dressing. Lay one leaf of lettuce flat and fill with chicken, kimchi and cilantro salad. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

<em>You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com.</em>