Thursday, May 18, 2006
CHANGE IS IN THE AIR… Spring is here and summer is tracking at its heels, but low is my mood since learning that one of our great treasures here on the Peninsula notified the world of his intention to move on. By now, you’ve all heard that JEFF JAKE, executive chef of the Pebble Beach Company, has decided to leave us and head north to Napa, where his sister, PEGGY O’KELLY, runs the successful St. Helena Olive Oil Company. It’s a business that has been contemplating growth for some time and it looks like now is that time.
I think this is a magnificent opportunity for him, to be working with two of his siblings (another sister, KELLY RIOS is on board), taking that business to new heights in an area Jeff has loved for a long time. The freedom and creativity afforded him now will go a long way to unleashing him to catapult into the next stages of his life—for that I am tremendously happy. But for those of us remaining, especially those in the hospitality community, we are losing someone who was always first in line to offer help, friendship, professionalism, character, class, fun, honesty, caring and love. Chef Jeff had become the face of Pebble Beach to all of us in the hospitality business, the point man with a heart who acted as conduit between a community and its most important corporation.
Regardless of its intentions, a leviathan like the Pebble Beach Company can easily become estranged from its community without folks who make an effort to keep them both connected. Perhaps the totally together JANINE CHICOURRAT, general manager of the Lodge, will become that someone—time will tell.
Meanwhile, to our good friend and guide, Mister Senor Chef di Tutti Chefs Jeffrey Jake, I wish only the greatest fortune, both professionally and personally. May you parlay the power and grace you ably and nobly demonstrated and developed while commandeering the food network at Pebble into a lifetime of success. All of us around here will miss you.
EVERY PURPOSE UNDER HEAVEN… As always, mixed news is the news. Here’s some happiness: Another of our local treasures, KERRY LOUTAS, owner/chef at L’Escargot, the great French restaurant in Carmel, is getting married. That’s right, married. ALLISON BOHNEN has agreed to endure the hardships of being a restaurateur’s wife.
Allison is a teacher now, but when she was student-teaching and a neighbor of Kerry’s, he used to pass her food across the fence. Naturally, the combination of his boyish good looks (kind of like what you’d imagine HAGRID AT HOGWARTS to look like when he was a boy), combined with an awesome talent in the kitchen (I’ll refrain from any wisecracks about the other rooms of the house), were more than she could resist. And folks say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. SWEET THING (who was the person that introduced me to Kerry) and I wish them a world of happiness.
NAMES IN FOOD NEWS… Apologies to NICOLE and KEVIN KING from Kinger’s Klubhouse at the Dolphin Inn on Fourth and San Carlos in Carmel. Their new saloon is doing well—people are finding it OK despite the fact that I misspelled their last name and had the place on Mission by mistake…maybe the power of the press might be a tad overrated, or at least the powerlessness of a column used mostly for cabinet lining.
I would attempt mentioning the names of the principles at Zillo’s, the new Italian joint where the old Bully III (most recently Mulligan’s) was, but they have a really long Italian name that ends in …ZILLO and that’s about as close as I can get right now. After a lifetime of having my name misspelled, mispronounced or just avoided, I’ve become a bit paranoid at multi-syllabic Eye-talian tongue-twisters. That aside, they’ve really beautified what had become a dingy establishment, rebuilding it into a bright, black-and-white bistro. Good luck to the blank-blank-Zillos.
SCOTT DOMNIE, who one time envisioned a pizza and great wine list store in Cannery Row, has opened The Cellar Door, a chop house and wine emporium, in the space on Lighthouse in PG recently vacated by La Dolce Vita, which was most famous for housing Melac’s back in the day (go JACQUES). Stop in and check out the interesting wines, have a steak or other dish and chew the fat with the local veteran staff.
Hula Hut, latest brainchild of the DELANEY boys, CRAIG and CHRIS, along with longtime stalwart from Hula’s, CRAIG “LEFTY” GLADSTONE, have opened in the Crossroads, right next to RG Burgers. At press time they were still a day or two away but it looks like it’s going to be a faster version of the wildly popular New Monterey eatery. Word also has it that expansion to other cities like Denver are on the horizon—hey guys, need a good though slightly worn-down bartender/waiter type?
BIG FUN… COOKING FOR SOLUTIONS is here—the 19th and 20th. If you aren’t going, you’re gone. Grab the phone, the bus, a windsurfer and fly down to the Aquarium for a great double day of food and wine with a conscience—get going…the ROYAL TOKAJI Wine Dinner at Casa Palmero, expecting 35 diners, had over 60 at last count…SARDINE FACTORY was awarded Best Wine List in America in Majority US Wines category by Restaurant Hospitality, an important trade mag. Other two winners were Charlie Trotter’s for Majority International Wines and Quinn’s Lighthouse in Oakland for Best Under 100 Selections, nice job MARC CUTINO…CHRISTOPHER CAUL, the erstwhile owner/chef at Christopher’s on Lincoln, wants y’all to know he’s got the crabs—soft shelled crabs, silly. An East Coast delicacy, he’s got ‘em now in his casual (check out the new décor changes), fun and yes, hip establishment…that’s it for me, I’m giving my notice.