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Inside the California Food Revolution

Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness

Joyce Goldstein
with Dore Brown
Darra Goldstein EDITOR
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Inside the California Food Revolution
    Book Description:

    In this authoritative and immensely readable insider's account, celebrated cookbook author and former chef Joyce Goldstein traces the development of California cuisine from its formative years in the 1970s to 2000, when farm-to-table, foraging, and fusion cooking had become part of the national vocabulary. Interviews with almost two hundred chefs, purveyors, artisans, winemakers, and food writers bring to life an approach to cooking grounded in passion, bold innovation, and a dedication to "flavor first." Goldstein explains how the counterculture movement in the West gave rise to a restaurant culture characterized by open kitchens, women in leadership positions, and a surprising number of chefs and artisanal food producers who lacked formal training. The new cuisine challenged the conventional kitchen hierarchy and French dominance in fine dining, leading to a more egalitarian and informal food scene.In weaving Goldstein's views on California food culture with profiles of those who played a part in its development-from Alice Waters to Bill Niman to Wolfgang Puck-Inside the California Food Revolution demonstrates that, while fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients are iconic in California, what transforms these elements into a unique cuisine is a distinctly Western culture of openness, creativity, and collaboration. Engagingly written and full of captivating anecdotes, this book shows how the inspirations that emerged in California went on to transform the experience of eating throughout the United States and the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95670-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    When you go to a supermarket today in many parts of the country you are not surprised to find twenty kinds of extra virgin olive oils, some made from California olives. A plethora of mustards and salsas in the condiment aisle is to be expected. The produce section has bags of salad-ready baby lettuces and bins filled with radicchio, arugula, golden beets, haricots verts, and bouquets of fresh herbs. You could get lost in the cheese department while making up your mind what to buy. You can select pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, and old-fashioned pork from a Berkshire pig that...

  5. 1 Thirty Years of Food Revolution: A Historical Overview
    (pp. 15-38)

    On May 9, 1984, I was waiting for the electrician to turn on the power so we could cook our first dinner at my restaurant, Square One. Although the official opening was not until May 14, we had invited friends to come for a few trial meals to help us get used to the kitchen and refine our timing. Square One’s manager, Max Alexander, had hired more waiters than we needed because he knew that not all of them would make the grade. I was still learning their names and their handwriting, because in those days before computer ticketing systems,...

  6. 2 One Revolution, Two Ways: Northern versus Southern California
    (pp. 39-61)

    In my many years of living and working in the Bay Area, I looked forward to slipping away to sample the food in Los Angeles and see what my colleagues were up to. On one trip, I was dazzled by a visit to Chinois on Main, with its dramatic open kitchen, fanciful dining room, and glorious wall of orchids. Wolfgang Puck’s Asian fusion food—the famous tempura tuna sashimi that remained raw in the center after deep-frying, the rich Shanghai curried lobster—was bold and original.

    On the same trip I luxuriated in the gorgeously restored 1928 art deco building...

  7. 3 Defying Kitchen Convention: Self-Taught Chefs and Iconoclasts
    (pp. 62-83)

    I was forty-seven years old when Alice Waters asked me to fill in for Steve Sullivan, the bread baker at Chez Panisse, while he took a six-week vacation. Although I had taught cooking classes for eighteen years, I had never worked in a restaurant. Suddenly I found myself making thirty loaves of bread, four buckets of pizza dough, and thirty pounds of pasta a day. When Steve came back, Alice asked me to stay on to cook in the Chez Panisse Café, where I later became chef. As word got out about the good food at the café, our volume...

  8. 4 Women Chefs and Innovation: The New Collaborative Kitchen
    (pp. 84-108)

    At Square One, my staff and I began our day at 7 a.m., gathered around a central table. Unlike in the conventional kitchen brigade, where a prep crew did the drudge work required to execute the menu, we worked as a group. Together we chopped hundreds of pounds of onions, made buckets of mirepoix, peeled endless heads of garlic, and trimmed caseloads of artichokes. While we prepped we talked about food and the menu of the day. Then we would break up, go to our stations, and continue the prep for our ownmise en place. Working together energized us....

  9. 5 New Flavors: Upscale Ethnic, Eclectic, and Fusion Food
    (pp. 109-129)

    Opening an American restaurant featuring Mediterranean cuisine in 1984 was a challenge. Diners did not even know what the term “Mediterranean” meant. The phone would ring and someone would ask, “What kind of food do you serve?” We’d reply, “Mediterranean,” and there would be dead silence on the other end of the line. Then we’d add, “You know, from Italy, Spain, France, Greece.” A sigh of relief would be heard and a reservation made.

    Square One’s menu could be intimidating to those who had not traveled abroad, and we had to educate and entice our customers to make them comfortable...

  10. 6 New Menus: The Daily Menu and the Story behind the Food
    (pp. 130-153)

    For twelve years I ran a 130-seat restaurant with an à la carte menu that I rewrote from top to bottom every day. That was hard work! I took on this demanding task because by 1984 California diners—and I—had developed a taste for adventure. We were turned on by the concept of fresh daily fare and boundless variety. Smaller restaurants such as Chez Panisse and Sally Schmitt’s French Laundry also created new menus each day, but they were not à la carte. They made the daily format work by serving a single menu, comprising four or five courses,...

  11. 7 Restaurants Reimagined: Transformations in the Kitchen and Dining Room
    (pp. 154-186)

    The design for my restaurant, Square One, was the work of Charles Pfister, a well-regarded architectural interior designer. The space was large and airy with a few supporting columns. Other than one wall near the entry that separated our venue from other ground-floor units, the restaurant was a single expansive, open room. Charles understood that I wanted the restaurant to resemble a modern Mediterranean trattoria, with rustic Italian chairs, white tablecloths, and china. Color would come from the food and the guests, echoing the design ethos behind Angeli Caffe and City Restaurant in Los Angeles. Charles was attentive to every...

  12. 8 A New World of Fresh Produce: Reviving the Farm-to-Table Connection
    (pp. 187-223)

    After I opened Square One in 1984, on those rare times when I could get away to Europe I would come back with spices, dried legumes, and seed packets stashed in my luggage. I carried pits from Italian white nectarines and seeds for unusual beans and greens and scimitar-shaped Turkish peppers with a sneaky heat component. I would give the seeds to Andy Powning at GreenLeaf Produce and ask him to find farmers to grow them out for me. Although not all of them could be successfully cultivated, to my delight, the seeds forpuntarelle—a chicory native to the...

  13. 9 Custom Foods: Chefs Partner with Purveyors and Artisans
    (pp. 224-261)

    One afternoon while driving to see friends in Napa, I was listening to a replay of aCity Arts and Lecturesprogram that had aired on April 28, 2010. Writer Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was interviewing writer and essayist Sarah Vowell. Vowell had lived in the Bay Area for a time, and Handler asked her why she did not stay in California. She replied, “I like goat cheese, but I do not want to have to talk about it.” There were knowing roars of laughter in the audience. We Californians, especially in the north, are obsessed with our ingredients...

  14. 10 Merging the Worlds of Wine and Food: Common Cause
    (pp. 262-298)

    I was driving up to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena recently when I glanced over to the side of the highway and realized that what used to be an open field where I had picnicked with my family in the late 1960s was now covered with grapevines. Back then, when you drove up to the Napa Valley, the roads were quiet. Route 29 through the valley was lined with trees, not wall-to-wall wineries. You encountered locals running errands, not long black limos filled with eager tourists, stopping at tasting room after tasting room. If you did go...

  15. Afterword: The Continuing Evolution of California Cuisine
    (pp. 299-320)

    Primo restaurant sits on Penobscot Bay in Rockland, Maine. Three thousand miles from the Pacific Coast, the restaurant links East and West by way of California cuisine. Primo serves spring lettuces and herbs grown in its own gardens, dressings made from red wine vinegar that is barrel aged in-house, and pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven topped with grappa-fig sausage made from pigs raised on the restaurant premises. On occasion, the restaurant hosts a wholehog dinner, which might open with crispy pig tails and finish with bacon-apple quinoa cake. Chef and co-owner Melissa Kelly attended the Culinary Institute of America...

    (pp. 321-322)
    Joyce Goldstein and Dore Brown
    (pp. 323-330)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 331-348)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-350)