Watch with us to celebrate the summer season with Michelin three-star Chef Michael Tusk. Live from his farm, Chef Tusk will prepare lamb with fava beans and black olives, and Pastry Chef Jennifer Felton will prepare strawberry crepes.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Bob Thornton - Thank you all for joining us for our very first Taste of Summer cooking series. And I have the great pleasure of introducing our guest chefs, Chef Michael Tusk, and pastry chef Jennifer Felton. Michael Tusk is the owner of three of San Francisco's most critically claimed restaurants, Quince, Cotogna, and Verjus. Chef Tusk's Italian and French Regional cuisine is refined yet modern, taking inspiration from the local produce of Northern California and its relationship to local purveyors. A native of New Jersey, such as myself, Chef Tusk graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Art History before pursuing a culinary education at the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park. He then spent time in France and Northern Italy, where he worked in Michelin Star restaurants and kitchens. In 1988 he settled in the San Francisco Bay area where he worked at some of the country's most pioneering and influential restaurants, including Stars, Chez Panisse, and Oliveto. In 2003 he opened Quince, which has been awarded four stars by the San Francisco Chronicle, three stars from the Michelin Guide, and is a distinguished member of Relais and Chateaux. This year, the restaurant is nominated for the James Beard Foundation's highest honor, Outstanding Restaurant. And I will say that I was one of the first guests at Quince restaurant, and I remember I came into the city. I remember the first time I went there, I knew I'd be back many times. In 2010, Michael and his wife, Lindsay opened Cotogna, a bustling rustic Italian restaurant adjacent to Quince in Downtown San Francisco. And in 2018, they opened Verjus, a wine bar, which is recognized by Bon Appetit, and James Beard Foundation as one of the best new restaurants in the country. Pastry Chef Jennifer Felton grew up in San Mateo. She moved to the East Coast to join the opening team at the NoMad Restaurant in New York. She returned in her native California for the opportunity to work with Chef Tusk at Quince, where she was Sous Chef and has since been promoted to Executive, excuse me, Executive Pastry Chef at Cotogna. In lieu of an honorarium, First Republic is making a donation to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, and Feed the Future. The Independent Restaurant Coalition is a lobbying group formed by chefs and independent restaurants trying to save local restaurants, and the 16 million American workers in their supply chain affected by Covid-19. Lindsay Tusk is a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition leadership team. Feed the Future is the nonprofit organization that the Tusks' founded to support the restaurant teams, and their local farm community in wake of the coronavirus. So with that introduction, I'd like to welcome Chef Michael Tusk, and Pastry Chef Felton. Take it away.
Michael Tusk - Thanks Bob. And thanks to everybody at First Republic for the opportunity, and all the support, and all the banking expertise over the years. So we're here at Fresh Run Farm in Bolinas. It's been a certified organic farm for over 20 years. And as you can see, we're out in the field. And we're basically going to cook some dishes with what's best at this time of year. So we also have some lambs that graze on the adjoining property. So we decided to do a lamb dish. And then Jennifer is going to cook a crepe dish with some of our freshly harvested strawberries. And Lindsay is going to talk about the Independent Restaurant Coalition, and Feed the Future in between the two of us. So I'm going to get started since I'm ready to go. So I'm going to do three different preparations of lamb. And the first one is going to be the shoulder. So I'm just going to put some oil in my pan, which I preheated. So this is going to be shoulder of lamb. Very, it takes a little bit longer to cook, but has a lot of flavor, and I'm excited. So I've taken the shoulder, I've season it with salt and pepper, and I'm going to quickly sear this, putting it in the pan evenly. And then I'm going to move on to my lamb rack and lamb loin, which most of us are a little bit more familiar with. I'm just going to sear this nicely and then not crowd the pan too much or at all. So, if you want to brown the lamb. And while this is browning over here, I want to move on to my other side. And I have the lamb rack and loin. So once the meats are cooking, we're going to prepare some vegetables from the farm to go with this. So a little bit of olive oil also. And going to season this rack and loin with salt and pepper. Got a little burst of wind here. So on both sides. So as you can see, I left the skin intact there because it's got a lot of flavor. So I want to get these both going in the same pan, which I preheated also. So I moved back over to my shoulder, which is browning nicely. And then for the shoulder, I'm going to add some carrot, a little bit of celery, and I've got these beautiful spring onions that were just harvested. So I'm just going to cut these in half. And then once this meat is nicely browned, I'll add the onions, carrots, and celery. And then I'll proceed to also, we've got a ton of herbs at the farm. I'm going to throw a little bit of rosemary in here, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I also have some fresh thyme. A lot of these herbs are all grown on the perimeter of the farm. So once the meats nicely browned, and all I basically do is add in my vegetables. I deglaze with a pinch of a wine, and then you've got two choices. You can cover it with just water, since lamb's very flavorful. Or you could add either chicken or lamb stock. And that'll go in the oven, and it'll be braised. So I've got my, just going to add these in since we don't a ton of time today. And then you'll see in a second. I'm going to let that cook, and then I'm going to move over. And so this is browning the meat up nicely. You can see, I scored it for a nice presentation. The rack needs a little bit more time. And then same thing, got some herbs, and some garlic cloves. This will just perfume and provide a lot of flavor when you see what I'm going to do next. A little bit more on that so I'm just going to move back to the shoulder. And once the white wine is added, this will go in the oven and braise for about an hour. 325 at home would be nice. But today, I'm going to put it in our wood burning oven. So I'm going to pass this off to my assistant. And then this is what the shoulder of the lamb will look like once I've cooked it in the oven for about an hour, an hour and 15 minutes. So you can see all the vegetables have broken down. It's very rich because of the cut.
Suzie Shqair - Chef Michael, can I ask you?
Michael - Yes?
Suzie - Quick question for you while we're still on. Is there a specific white wine you recommend for the lamb?
Michael - No, just a dry white wine. You just want to provide a little acid for the dish. So it doesn't need to be. If you're drinking a white wine, then I would just add a splash of that in. But it doesn't need, you don't need to break the bank for a cooking wine in this dish. So all right, my lamb's nicely browned. And then I am going to show you, you can add a little bit of butter in. This will start to melt, and then I have my spoon. And so, this is called self-basting. I'm basically taking the hot fat, and pouring it over the meat. I'm rotating the meat around. The loin is a little bit thinner, and isn't on the bone. So it'll take, it'll be faster. If I wanted to, I can cook the entire dish like this. The butter will start to brown. It'll get a little bit nutty. It's being perfumed by the garlic, the bay leaves, the thyme and rosemary. And I can cook this fully through here. Cause the hot fat is basically warming through into the meat. The bottom heat is cooking the meat. And this is how you'd have lamb cooked in a fine dining restaurant. If you don't have as much patience as a restaurant chef, and meat cook, you can then simply take this. So those three or four minutes, and then basically all you have is a meat probe. You put this in. If it's warm, your meat is done. For today, since we're outside, I'm going to proceed to put this meat on a rack. And I will then, these herbs are still nice, you can save them. And we're going to pop this in the oven for about, say 10 minutes, at a home stove would be about 350 degrees. So even the garlic I'm going to save and roast with the meat and give it one more beautiful little basting. So this is going to go in the oven, and then we all have roast loin, rack, and shoulder of lamb. So thank you. Yes. Can I answer a question?
Suzie - Yes. Can you please let us know the difference between the two racks of lamb that you used?
Michael - Sure. So you have the loin and the rack. They're basically attached to each other. So it's the leg, loin, rack, and then the shoulder is the furthest cut closest to the animals, basically your shoulder. Usually you cook the shoulder with the bone in because they're very flavorful. In this preparation it's kind of like a lamb stew. So the loin, two loins, two tender loins are right below it. And you have the rack of lamb, so every animal has two. They're both, probably the prime cuts are the loin and the rack. The shoulder is a less expensive, and therefore a lot of people don't, you can make sausage with the shoulder, but braised dishes work best with that cut. I'm going to ask my assistant to just remove this pot from the stove. And then, can you just drain off a little bit of that fat. And then bring it back to me please. So vegetables. First tomatoes of the year. We are going to, these are dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. So we farm at Fresh Run Farm, in Bolinas, which was on the coast. We also farm at a secondary farm, which is called McEvoy Ranch, which is famous for their olive oil production. One of the first California olive oil producers. So hot weather crops at McEvoy Ranch. So the tomatoes are a nightshade. So they do better at a different property, that's a warmer weather. It's cooler here and therefore eggplants, and peppers, and tomatoes do better at the secondary property. So I've got my tomatoes and we're basically going to serve these with the lamb. You can put them on a rack, or I can simply put them directly in the pan. So for a slow cooked tomato, or a confit, you can even take these tomatoes, and put them in a really, really, really slow oven overnight. You wake up the next morning. They're perfect. So a little bit of olive oil, same McEvoy Ranch oil. And a little bit of salt. And then I will proceed to take a little bit of garlic. This is something that you'd see in provincial cooking. So I'm just going to cut this garlic nice and thin. And you can use a slice, like a mandolin if you want to make these even finer. But I'm just going to take the garlic, and kind of stud the tomatoes with it. Garlic and tomatoes are one of my favorite combination. So this time of year, I love cooking tomatoes in this style, especially with lamb. It's a great pairing. So tomatoes are ready to go. I'm just going to put a little bit of pepper on them. And then I have some basil. I'm just going to take some basil leaves from the field, and just a, like a little leaf on each tomato and then we are good to go, so these are going to get put in. You can even put them in like a 200 degree oven, an oven with a pilot light just on. And by the time you wake up in the morning, the tomatoes will be really beautifully concentrated. They're still plump, but really have a great texture and flavor. There you go. So these tomatoes are all ready to go. And I'm just going to pop those in the oven while my rack and loin is cooking. I'm then going to proceed to cook, I've got my shoulder, now. I've got some beautiful peas and fava beans. So I'm simply going to get another spring onion and just use it as a base. Basically get this, I'm going to cook these onions, and the fava beans and the peas in the same exact pan that I cooked the lamb in, because I want that lamb flavor to be working with the vegetables, since it's all going to be served together. So a little onion as the base. Ready to go. And then I will put a little bit more garlic. Just a slice. And I can, always got a little pastry scraper, for teaching folks at home. So rather than picking it up with your hand, a scraper costs about, you know, a dollar. And it's probably one of the best kitchen tools you can have around, just always keeps your kitchen nice and neat. You can even keep it in your front pocket. I'm just going too slowly. You can see all that lamb that was stuck to the bottom of the pan. I'm just going to gently cook this, and then I'm going to take my peas. You can see none blanched. Since we're in a cooler climate, our peas also come later. So fresh English peas, going to add these in. And then the fava beans. I also don't blanch my fava beans. I like them raw. We take the germ out. I feel like it keeps a much more vibrant, fresher, fava being flavor. So just going to add these favas in too. And then I'm going to coat these fava beans with some of this lamb fat, and oil, and shallots, and then I have a little bit of beautiful lemon verbena. So I'm just going to take some verbena leaves and just add them in. You can even add the branch. It's got flavor to it. So I'll pick these. You can always put this in. You can throw it out when we're done. But it'll still flavor the dish. A little bit of salt. And we're off to the races. So add a little bit of this nice McEvoy oil too. And then I have, I took the pea shells, and I proceeded to save them, and I made a pea stock. So in restaurants, or even at home cooking, I try to use everything, so we get as much flavor as possible. So I'm just going to add this pea stock in, which is pea shells and water, just brought to a simmer, simmered for about 25 minutes. So as this is cooking, I am going to show you what the tomatoes look like once they're done.
Suzie - Hey, Chef?
Michael - Yes.
Suzie - Speaking of tomatoes, I have a couple of questions for you. What is the oven temperature for the tomatoes? And how long do you cook it for?
Michael - The lower the temperature, the longer you're going to have to cook them. You can cook them at say 275 degrees for almost close to like three hours. They could shrink up even further than this. Since I'm outside, we're cooking in a wood oven. This is, you can see how beautiful. I discarded the basil, but you can see the garlic has been cooked. They've really become very, very plump and dense. If I went further at a lower temperature, they'd get even, they'd shrink even more, and be similar to say a sun dried tomato, which you're probably very familiar with. I'd say, why don't you say 275 for about three hours? If you want to go faster just turn the oven up. You can still get the same result. But if you're in a rush, that's another way to cook the tomato. So, all right, I've got my tomatoes done. I'm going to taste my peas and favas. I want to keep them very fresh and vibrant. The one thing about cooking, you just have to taste things all the time. I've got a little bin right on the end here that just has numerous spoons. So all throughout the preparation, I'm tasting, tasting, tasting. You can see how bright green they are. They still are very fresh. They're just about done, done. And they're much more vibrant than simply blanching and peeling them. I feel like this is a much better way, and then you have a better yield. And the next day they'll taste a lot better too. And you can just cook what you want, instead of cooking them all and then having, not having fresh peas and favas the next day. So I have, all my meats are ready. My peas and favas are almost done. My tomatoes are almost done. So I want to go to the plate, as we say, with this final pickup. So I have got a beautiful copper dish here that I bought in Turin, Italy on one of my trips. And just going to turn off my peas and favas since they're done. And show you what this final dish should look like. Got a sharp knife here. And then I'm going to first take this. You always want to let your meat rest for a couple of minutes, it'll continue to cook. So most meats will carry over and have like an extra 10 degrees added to the final temperature of, in this case lamb. So I'm just going to take these tomatoes, and place them. I don't mind a little bit of the herb in there too. The bay leaf, you don't want to eat but it looks nice. So I'm going to throw it in there, and then we're just about done with those tomatoes, which look beautiful. So then going to slice this lamb. So we're going to slice the, oh left one there. So loin and rack. We're going to cut this loin first. So I like my lamb more towards medium. I don't really like lamb, overly rare. I think it tastes better. This has a little smoke to it since we, you have a barbecue, and you can just close it. And you can have something similar, have a little smoky flavor to it. Going to put a different configuration than the rack. Simply want to go from. You can see bone to bone. There's a little, we've cleaned it up nicely. And we're just going to put this on here. You want double chops? Just cut them. So we're just about ready here, and. So then we've got our braised lamb. I'm going to finish the braised lamb with a little bit of Nicoise olives. Kind of staying with that, in this case, little French theme. It's been warmed through already. You can see how nice, and juicy, and rich this is. Just going to put beautiful chunks like this. So this acts as a sauce. I don't need to make a second sauce because of the fact that I braised this in all these natural juices. And I don't want it to be too refined, or reduced. So get some of these olives on here. Leaving the vegetables in. You wanted more refined, you can puree up all the vegetables, but I don't prefer to do that. On the home stretch. Going to finish with our beautiful lemon verbena infused peas and carrots, I'm just going to. Verbena is one of my favorite herbs, so I try to. Love growing it here, and I love cooking with it. Just about done. I'll save this. Just put this in a separate vessel, and serve it on the side also. And then I'm going to finish this with a little bit of the oil from McEvoy Ranch, which is all a Tuscan blend of different Tuscan olives. So then I have a little bit of finishing salt. So I'm just going to finish it with this. And then my final touch is, we have these beautiful Meyer lemons from the farm that Peter, the proprietor of the farm, was nice enough to just pick this morning. So I'm going to just cut a couple of wedges, and I always love lamb and lemon. So just going to give a little squeeze of this, and we have our Watson Farm lamb, grazing next door, with a beautiful fresh from the farm fava bean and peas, tomato confit studded with olive, braised shoulder with Nicoise olives. And it's time to have some lunch. So thanks for, thanks for watching. We're going to, I'm going to then. Excellent.
Suzie - I have a couple questions for you before we move on to the next one. What is your preferred salt for cooking and for finishing?
Michael - There's so many great finishing salts. I feel that we make a lot of our own salt blends with all these extra herbs that we have left over. I think, I'm just using kosher salt right now for the seasoning of the lamb before I cook it. And then in terms of finishing salts, you can use Grace Hall, you can use Florida Cell. There's Murray River, it's a really nice American finishing salt. It's really whatever profile you like. There's lemon salt, rosemary salt, or a mixed herbs salt. In a sense, I would just find something that would match up well. Rosemary, thyme. Thyme always matches up nicely with lamb. So therefore, a salt that has those herbs in it would be nice, and the lemon wood would also be delicious. I can send you a list of the different salts that are my favorites, once we finish up the session.
Suzie - That would be great. And then we could include it in our follow up Email. And then one more question. How many will that dish serve?
Michael - This was four to six people, including the rest of the peas and favas. And then I also have extra lamb, the braised shoulder there. So I'd say a six, maybe even, definitely four to six. If your big eaters four. Six without a doubt. You can probably also get upwards of serving eight with this much with lamb.
Suzie - Thank you.
Michael - I think I am now going to, we're going to proceed to talk, I'm going to pass this off to my wife and business partner, Lindsay, who's going to talk about the Independent Restaurant Coalition, and Feed the Future, our 501 foundation.
Lindsay Tusk - Hi, First Republic. Mike's a little bit of a hard act to follow. So I will do my best. I want to thank you very much for your time. Thank you, First Republic. And thank you for all of you who are watching. I wanted to take a moment to discuss two very important organizations to us, quite near and dear. One, perhaps a little bit more heartfelt and very much attached to what you see behind me. And another one, perhaps a little bit more political in nature, actually, certainly political nature. Let me start with Feed the Future, which is an organization, a 501 nonprofit charitable foundation that Mike and I started the early days of the pandemic. It initially formed to provide direct assistance to individuals who were working in the restaurant that were not able to qualify for unemployment benefits. For a variety of reasons, but mainly centered on immigration issues. They were either undocumented workers in the state of California, or they were employees that were working at the restaurants under a visa program, primarily J-1 Visas, which made them ineligible for unemployment benefits. Our community of regulars were extremely generous, and we raised a good amount of funds to take care of those who were most in need. But through that experience, kind of our eyes kind of widened and broadened as the pandemic kind of deepened. And we started to be more sensitive to the insecurities in the food supply chain, and those who are working in that local food ecosystem, which includes small farms like Fresh Run Farm. And Peter Martinelli, who's here with us today, but off camera, but it's the heart and soul of Fresh Run. So we have established a small grant program, not only for the restaurant industry, but for small farms in West Marin. And I would encourage you to go to our website, which is FeedtheFuture.org, not dot gov, to learn about our small grant programs that are anywhere from, direct assistance, operating capital, to accounting, advisory business consulting services for farms to change their business model due to disruptions because of Covid. FeedtheFuture.org. Secondly, I want to tell you about the IRC, which is the Independent Restaurant Coalition. That too started in the very early days of the pandemic, and is a national organization made up of chefs and restaurateurs from across the country who came together to legislate, and lobby for restaurant specific efforts, primarily around relief and stabilization. We are, would like, I would like you very much to, for you to support the Restaurant's Act, which is probably our biggest piece of legislation to date. We're asking for a restaurant stabilization fund, for about $120 million specifically earmarked for the restaurant industry. This will save 11 million jobs, and it will contribute $271 billion to the economy. Please go to the website, SaveRestaurants.com for more information about the Restaurants Act. So that's kind of my spiel, my political spiel. I don't, could I answer any questions? I know I kind of went through it very quickly. But if I could answer any questions from anybody in the audience, I would be happy to.
Suzie - Thank you so much, Lindsay. We are sending the organization names, and the links to our attendees after the demonstration, the demo. So they will be able to log in, and do their donations there as well. But as of now, I don't have any questions.
Lindsay - Okay. Well, thank you again. And I'm now going to bring you over to a much more exciting episode of this podcast, which would be Pastry Chef, Jennifer Felton. Thank you.
Jennifer Felton - Hello. We made it to dessert. Yay! I'm going to be walking you through our crepe recipe and our strawberry jam, which are highlighting the strawberries from our farm, which were literally picked hours ago, which is pretty amazing out here. We sent you along the recipes. I'm just going to quickly run through that. It couldn't be simpler. You're just going to blitz everything together. So it's the milk and cream, the eggs, the vanilla, salt, and the flour. It's really important for this one that you strain it, and you let it be like the jam, that you let it rest at least 30 minutes, if not overnight, that's probably best. It's super versatile. So if you wanted to turn this sweet crepe into a savory crepe recipe, just go ahead and omit the sugar. The resting period is critical to the texture of the crepe. If you find that it's been in your refrigerator overnight, and it's a little bit too thick for you, you're having trouble with it, just a little bit of water should do the trick. That's the basic for that. I think the hardest part about it is the cook on it. So, I have a seasoned cast iron skillet here. I also have used a nonstick, which is pretty great. So it's flexible. And then a little bit of grape seed oil, is what I have here for the pan. But you could use butter, delicious. Not too much because you'll find that your batter gets a little bit lacy, that you get holes in it. So just enough to season the pan a little bit. The first one always will trip you up. So two, three, as you start to make it, you'll become an expert. So let's see how this one goes. So sometimes people like to ladle it right to the center of the pan. What works for me is actually just to put it on the outer side and then swirl it around. That's my technique. So I'll show you here. It's a little toasty. Thin is the goal. And you're just going to keep swirling that extra batter around until you get as thin as possible, yeah. At this point, we're just going to look for the outer edges to start to crisp up a little bit, and the center just to set. So it's going to go from being shiny to just more matte. And then we know that we can go ahead and flip it. I like my plastic spatula, just to loosen up the edges a little bit here. I don't know if you can see this, but there's little bubbles right in here. You know that it's starting to bake, and it's set a little bit more. So I'm just going to look for some color on the bottom. I just use my hands. Nice flip. Little sizzle. I made it look simple. You're going to have to do it a couple of times, and get your rhythm, and make sure that your pan is the right temperature. This is probably more like a medium low. We did heat this one in our wood fire oven just a little bit. And then again, you're looking for color on the bottom. And we're good. I'm going to actually flip this one out right onto the table. And that's your crepe. The great thing about this is you can make a ton in advance. So if you are not a morning person, you can do this at night. You can wrap them up, hold them in your refrigerator, pull them out and warm them in the oven the next morning. If you make too many, and you're by yourself, and you don't want to eat them all, you can freeze them as well. So it's pretty great. I've gone ahead and made a few in advance. With our strawberry jam, the recipe we sent you also is pretty straight forward. It's just fresh strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. And the trick to this one is going to be slow and low. So a low temperature. If you see that it's starting to bubble a little bit, or that it's a little bit cloudy, just skim it like you would a stock to get rid of some of those impurities. And that's going to give you like a really shiny, not cloudy, its super clear. And then we're going to build these. So maybe I lay out a few. You could do this with anything. We chose strawberries for this season. You could fill it with lemon curd. We've done chocolate mousse. Lots of options here. If you want to season your jam as well, with more than just the strawberries, you could throw in a couple sprigs of lemon verbena, you could do, hello bee, some lavender. And we're going to leave them like this. And then we're going to fire them back in the oven just to get them warm. So I think if we could pass these off to Chef to fire, thank you. Those guys. And then, like I said, these are the strawberries that we just picked from the farm. So I just quartered them up. So I like a good bite. I'm going to add some of the jam that we have here, just to season these, you could add lemon juice since you have it for the other dish as well. Get them seasoned. And it's really that easy. I can show you another one, or take any questions if you guys have them.
Suzie - Hi Chef.
Jennifer - Hi.
Suzie - And how are you?
Jennifer - Good.
Suzie - Can these be frozen, the strawberries? And at what temperature oven can we warm them?
Jennifer - Sure. Warming oven, 350 is fine. You don't need to crisp them up or anything. This particular recipe, you can see, is really flexible because we're folding them. And it's a sweet crepe, so they freeze very well. What I would do is make sure that they cool completely, so that they don't stick together. Too much moisture will make them stick together. You can just wrap them in plastic, it's that simple. You could individually wrap them. If you wanted to pull out a little bit at a time. That's probably best. But they're going to keep really well. And you can pull them the night before from the freezer to the refrigerator, to let them temper a little bit, and then warm them straight from the fridge. Chef's going to come around and bring me the warm crepes.
Suzie - [Moderator] Can you use honey instead of white sugar?
Jennifer - In the crepe recipe?
Suzie - Yes.
Jennifer - Yeah you can, you just want to. Honey eats sweeter than sugar, so you never want to sub one for one, it would be way too sweet. So you can absolutely do that, just to taste. Like I said, if you wanted to make these a savory crepe, all you would need to do is omit the sugar entirely. Maybe add a little bit more salt. So you can absolutely play with the sugars.
Suzie - And how do the, how long do the strawberries cook to create the jam?
Jennifer - Based on temperature, it could take anywhere from an hour to two hours, sort of based on your stove. I do recommend, jams have a tendency as they get closer to the correct temperature of setting, that they kind of, they spurt, and they can burn you pretty badly. So a tall sided pot is the way that you want to go with that one, for sure. And, oh there's a trick. I think I wrote it maybe in the recipe. If you take a spoon, a clean spoon, and you put it in your freezer, and while you're cooking your jam, you just keep checking it. You can see, you can push it with your finger. And if it starts to set, you know that you're in good shape. That's going to help you to identify when your jam is ready.
Suzie - Thank you.
Jennifer - Yeah. Any more questions?
Suzie - What else can I use to sweeten the strawberry if I don't want to use sugar?
Jennifer - You don't have to sweeten the strawberries at all. You can let them sit out at room temperature, and they will sort of release their juices. You can add a little lemon juice to help that along, but they absolutely don't need any extra sugar, it's not necessary. A splash of vanilla, maybe if you wanted to. I'm going to hit it with a little more sugar, though, because this is a sweet dessert crepe. So maybe not breakfast. But I would eat it for breakfast. So either way.
Suzie - It looks delicious.
Jennifer - Yay! Those are our crepes for you. I'm going to pass it along back to Chef if there's no more questions.
Suzie - I do have.
Jennifer - Thank you so much. Oh yes, of course. Go ahead.
Suzie - If we have some time, would it be possible to watch you make another crepe in the pan?
Jennifer - Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I will definitely do one or two for you again.
Suzie - Thank you.
Jennifer - Okay, I'm going to pass you back to Chef, but we'll do that. Thank you so much.
Michael - Just had a, since we had a couple extra minutes, before I guess any questions start, I just wanted to introduce everybody to Peter Martinelli, who's the proprietor of Fresh Run Farm. And Carl, Tess, and Taylor, who all were the real hard workers behind harvesting. These strawberries literally got harvested an hour ago. As you can see, they're pretty, pretty vibrant and amazing. And then all the other products, all the other vegetables were harvested just this morning, and they're then going to get brought into the restaurants in the city. So if you think restaurant work is hard, then thank the farm. The farmers are the real, do a lot of amazing work. And it's an extremely tough profession. So I just wanted to thank them, or else we wouldn't be here today. So thank you. Any questions?
Suzie - Yes. We have actually a lot of questions. But maybe we could put Lindsay back on. We have a question about your nonprofit organization. And they're asking do you help restaurants and farms all over the US?
Lindsay - Good question. The Feed the Future, the nonprofit, that is, was based around Northern California, and restaurant workers in our three restaurants, and any others that might need help, as well as farmers in the Northern California terrain here. So it's mainly based. But if somebody was to apply for a grant, that was in need, that's also a possibility. But for now with the three restaurants, and a couple, almost 190 workers that we started with. We went down to about a 15, and now we're back up again. It was really designed for workers in the three restaurants, and farms in Northern California. And I can provide you more information after with, we've got some literature that we can send out.
Suzie - Awesome. Thank you so much. This is a great cause, and definitely we will follow up with our attendees with all the information, or Email. We do have a couple back to our original recipe. We have a lot of people interested in knowing, for cooking for two people, which meat would you cut out if you're only preparing for two people?
Michael - Sure. That's a great question. If I was only preparing the lamb for two people, I would probably just cook either the loin or the rack. I'd say the loin is probably going to be easier to cook, just because I wasn't cooking it on the bone. So the real trick with that is just really browning it, browning it nicely, getting those herbs in the oil, and the garlic in. And that self-basting’s not only going to cook it, but it's going to flavor that lamb also. So I'd say the loin would be the easiest cut to cook, and then the rack would be behind it. The shoulder, although it's the cheapest cut, it probably takes a little bit more. That would be something maybe they do over a weekend where you had a little bit more time, and you really wanted to explore the art of, in the sense of braising, just braising meat. Because it's got a lot of steps. I'm sorry, with the time I had to go a little bit faster. And then some of the wind, it's hard to get these burners to stay really hot. I would say, it's just a fundamental cooking technique. So it'd be great to work on the braising on a weekend. And then if it was a weekday and you needed to have a meal in 45 minutes or so, then I would probably say choose the loin, and have your butcher not clean it up too much. And then, or the rack, is really fun to, just a fun cut to really cook. So either those two would be my preferred cut, probably.
Suzie - Thank you. And to get to know you a little bit more, what style of cooking has most influenced your work? Is it Italian, French? And what's the major difference between the two?
Michael - Another good question. I love, I started cooking in more French style restaurants, then I went to France to work in some restaurants in the Provence area, and so forth. And then a little bit in some other regions. I love both French and Italian food. Right now, since we're based in California, I think the cuisine, or Cucina, is more based around like where we are right now, which is West Marin and the coast of California. So we're really trying to highlight everything that this area, which is about 50 minutes to an hour outside of San Francisco, has to offer, so the seafood on the coast, the vegetables that are grown here for the different restaurants, by Peter and the crew. The cheese makers in this area are amazing also. In fact, right up the road, just because of the dairy products, starting with Straus Farm in Marshall. This is a property that has, its malted. So it's a land trust so it will always remain farmland. And they were a couple that really got that movement started in this area, which is basically preserving farmland for future generations. No matter what happens to the proprietors of the farm, this will always remain a farm. Yeah, I'd say that's really influenced, even though I've taken trips to like Japan, I love. But I'd say, having a real California true statement of what this area has to offer, is what I prefer to move into the future with.
Suzie - Thank you. And then we all watch our TV cooking shows, and we see how a professional kitchen gets very stressful when it's really busy. How do you stay calm and focused when things become very hectic?
Michael - You know, I think if you've been doing this for 20 or so years, no matter how. We have almost 18 or 20 cooks in the kitchen plus, at least for Quince, which has more, has a larger staff then say Cotogna and Verjus. I think you just have to stay calm. They look towards one person when problems arise. Running a professional kitchen, the slightest little thing can really, throw off an entire evening. So you just have to stay kind of balanced, and then train your staff to be the same way, and confront problems head on. I think the average guest doesn't, that's coming to a restaurant, or even a fine dining restaurant realize. If I'm delivering the food to the table, when I'm the guest gets up to, just do something, go outside, take a phone call, use the bathroom. We then for the most part have to, throw that dish of food away, and start over again. And you can't really say that to the guests. So there's like so many little things that can that you have to be aware of to make the night just run smoothly. So you just have to have a lot of patience, and have a lot of problem solving skills, and keep everybody even keeled, and then you're able to get through a very hectic environment.
Suzie - Thank you, chef. This is really great. And we do have time for maybe one more question. We're getting a lot of people asking suggestions on where to buy the lamb, if they could purchase it from the shop. If you could tell us a little bit about different tricks here and there for the shopping part. And then we could-
Michael - Sure. A lot of the vegetables that are on display here, we currently have at Verjus, since because of Covid, not being able to have diners inside of the restaurants. It's now more of a marketplace, where it has an e-commerce store. And you can go shopping for not only the wine, but all of these beautiful fruits, vegetables, herbs are able to be purchased. And we're going to have a farmer's market on Friday, Friday nights, starting from four o'clock this Friday, with Peter himself talking about what he grows, and how it's grown. The lamb we also have up on our, on our e-commerce site. Since I've been buying this lamb from Don Watson for probably almost 25 years. We have different cuts that you can purchase, either at the, at Verjus by coming by, or you can purchase them on the site. So a lot of, everything we have here, even the oils, the olives, a lot of, everything that went into these dishes, the strawberries. We have a new gelato stand in front of Cotogna, where we've got a larger outdoor seating area. And we have it also at Verjus. So we're making a strawberry gelato, and three other types of gelato. So all of these items that are coming from the farm, we're trying to basically pay homage to everything that is harvested here, and produce items with it for everybody to take home. And you can cook the same meal at home by just coming by Verjus, or going to the website.
Suzie - Thank you so much, Chef. And keep saying it's the last question, but what is your favorite entree you like to cook and share with our audience right now?
Michael - My favorite entree that I like to cook? I kind of keep it well, I do cook at home more in a simple, or country-esque kind of fashion. I love different vegetable preparations, since there's so much here to offer. Like this time of year, with everything that is out in the fields, I love cooking the leg of lamb, but in a fireplace. So it's with a string. So it's like a la Ficelle where you tie up the leg, and then you keep it at a certain height with a wood fire, and then you just twist it around. And then it naturally twists back and forth. And you spit roast in your own fireplace. That with like a very simple, ratatouille that has the summer squash, the zucchini, the eggplant, the tomatoes. It just kind of speaks of the summer. So dishes like that are. And obviously I cook a lot pasta at Cotogna. And I'm trying to get a pasta company started. So a lot of egg based Northern Italian pastas are our favorites ranging from pastas of Emilia-Romagna to Campania are some of my favorite ways to cook when I'm at home.
Suzie - Awesome. Thank you. And then if we don't have copper pans, any other recommendation to use at home cooking?
Michael - Sure. Yeah, I just brought the copper since I collect a lot of copper, so I thought it'd be fun. And it looks nice out here in nature. You don't really need to have super fancy pans. The one thing you'd want, for say the browning of the lamb, I don't really prefer a nonstick pan for that preparation, because I really want the lamb to kind of build a fond, or like a little crust on the bottom of the pan, especially with the shoulder, so that when you cook out those vegetables and the herbs inside of it. And by the time you add that wine, you're de glazing. So you're adding the wine, and you're scraping up all those bits of pieces of lamb that provides tons of tons of flavors. So I think just like nice stainless steel pans would be perfectly fine. There's a couple manufacturers that I can tell you. You don't have to really spend a lot of money to cook really beautiful, beautiful food. But I would definitely urge you not to go with like a nonstick pan for meat cookery, because you want that flavor to then. You wouldn't really get all this color in the lamb with the final preparation, if I didn't brown it really nicely. So that caramelization doesn't really occur if you're using pans that nothing really sticks to it. So just stainless steel pans would be. Cast iron is nice also, but I prefer just a simple stainless steel pan to purchase for, at least those type of dishes.
Suzie - Thank you so much, chef. I'm sure you're making so many people out there hungry right now, and getting ready for dinner. So it's time to thank you, Chef Tusk, and Pastry Chef Felton for your wonderful cooking demonstration today. I'm sure our audience is excited to try everything you made at home. As a reminder, this session was recorded. And the playback will be available on our website. A follow up Email will be sent to everyone, and we will include the ingredients, instructions, along with the information on the nonprofit organizations. We want to thank everyone for attending today. By attending you are automatically entered into our random drawing, and we will contact the winners via Email tomorrow. Please visit our website, FirstRepublic.com, for a schedule for our upcoming webinars. Thank you, and be well. Goodbye.
Michael - Thank you very much.