“I cover restaurants when our chefs are out, and I do get on the line and cook every once in a while,” she said. “I work very closely with our chefs … and I look at labor, quality control and how we can be better.”
She credits SRJC’s program for showing her what working in the food industry looks like, including the physically demanding work of being on your feet all day and night. Taylor said she enjoys it when it gets really busy and everyone has to pull together and, in restaurant parlance, get out of the weeds.
“It’s great team-building, and I think it brings some people’s personalities out,” she said. “Once you find your people, you can be a little weird. It’s OK. No one is going to judge you while sweating in the heat, hungry and doing 350 covers.”
Like every chef, she’s used to grabbing her own meals on the go.
“There’s no better place to have a meal than by the dumpster, that’s just how it is,” she said. “At night, it’s a quick, midnight snack of quesadillas, grilled cheese or a bowl of cereal. The last thing we want to eat is the restaurant food. You smell like it when you get home.”
The following recipe is from Estate Chef Forest Kellogg of J Vineyards & Winery, who sent it in a newsletter to wine club members. You could cut these in half and serve them as appetizers or as a lunch entree.
Makes 4 toasts
1½ pounds raw shrimp in the shells
1 yellow onion, small dice (about 8 ounces)
1 stalk celery, small dice (about 4 ounces)
1 carrot, small dice (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon black peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1 bunch thyme
1 liter olive oil
1 loaf unsliced bread of choice
1 tablespoon butter
2 oranges, 1 segmented and 1 juiced (save juice separately)
1 head frisée, washed and separated
1 bunch Italian parsley, washed and minced
2 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 shallot, minced (about 2 ounces)
¼ cup sherry
2 avocados, sliced thin
Rinse shrimp under cold water. Devein and peel, then cut them in half vertically, making two identical halves. Save shrimp shells and tails and roast the shrimp shells in the oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Crack, break or chop the shells into pieces (about thumbnail-size).
In a large, heavy pot over high heat, add a few tablespoons olive oil and saute the carrot, onion and celery until soft. Add the shells and tomato paste and continue to cook for 5 to 8 minutes more.
Carefully pour in the remaining oil and add the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Make sure all the ingredients are covered in oil; you may need to add more than a liter depending on the shape and size of the pot. Leave on medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to low and cook for at least 1 hour.
Turn off and let cool for at least 1 hour. The oil should have a deep red color and none of the solids should be burned. Once cooled, strain though a colander, collecting the oil. Discard the solids and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth at least twice. Once oil is completely cooled, transfer to a bottle. Shrimp oil can be saved for a month in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer. Makes an excellent topping for pasta, pizza, seafood and vegetable dishes.
Slice bread into four 1½-inch-thick slices. Drizzle with shrimp oil and season with salt and pepper. Using a large saute pan, add enough shrimp oil to fill the bottom of the pan completely and heat until oil begins to shimmer. Place the sliced bread, oil side down, and cook until golden brown. When finished, remove from pan, slice diagonally and set on a clean plate.
Season the half shrimp with salt and pepper. In the same pan used for the toast, add enough shrimp oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat it until you begin to see wisps of smoke. Carefully add shrimp, taking care not to splash the oil or overcrowd the pan. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of the pan. Allow the shrimp to develop some color before moving them in the pan. Cook until slightly underdone. Transfer to a large plate.
As soon as the shrimp are removed, reduce heat to low and add shallot, sliced garlic and 1 teaspoon shrimp oil. Simmer until translucent, being careful not to burn or let color develop, about 1 minute.
Add the sherry and orange juice to deglaze the pan, and gently scrape up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Increase heat to medium and reduce the sherry until nearly all the liquid is gone. Reduce heat to simmer.
Add 2 tablespoons shrimp oil and 2 tablespoons cold, cubed butter. Working quickly, add shrimp back in plus 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and juice of both lemons. Stir constantly until butter is melted and an emulsified sauce has formed. Taste and add more salt and lemon, if desired.
In a mixing bowl, drizzle some of the warm sauce over the frisée and orange segments and season lightly with salt.
Arranged sliced avocado on toast and season with salt. Follow with shrimp, then frisée salad. Finish with pan sauce, parsley and a drizzle of shrimp oil.
“My cousin Candice and I came up with this in the pool at the Rio Nido Roadhouse one summer day,” Liz Guerra said. “It blends our love for summer flavors with fun little twists from our melting-pot heritage.”
If you can’t find furikake, you can substitute black and white toasted sesame seeds. Gochugaru, a Korean chile flake, is sold at Asian markets and Oliver’s markets.
Cucumber and Watermelon Salad
Makes 4-6 servings
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar or mirin
2 teaspoons gochugaru
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 English cucumber or 4 small Persian cucumbers, small dice
2 cups seedless watermelon, small dice
1 cup mung bean sprouts, rough chopped
In a bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
Add diced cucumber, watermelon and bean sprouts. Toss everything together and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle your favorite furikake blend over salad and serve alongside any summertime grilled goodie.
“These are always things I have on hand for any summer gatherings,” said Kaitlyn Taylor, who shared this favorite casual salad recipe. You can add more or fewer ingredients, according to how many people you will serve.
Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad
Sliced heirloom tomatoes
Peaches, preferably from Dry Creek Peach, cut into wedges
Red onion, sliced
Burrata cheese, torn
Basil, freshly picked
Fleur de sel and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Overlap a single layer of tomatoes and peaches. Top with red onion, burrata and basil. Finish with a sprinkling of fleur de sel, fresh cracked pepper and a splash of your favorite balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil.
Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or email@example.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.