Spring is Here and I'm Thinking About the Salad that Changed My Life!
Apr 21, 2022
It's finally springtime, and I'm thinking about the salad that changed my life. Seriously-- one bite set me on an entirely new course. Imagine fresh goat cheese that's oh-so delicately surrounded by bread crumbs and herbs and baked just until toasty. Place this on a handful of mesclun greens perfectly dressed with a balanced red wine vinaigrette. Garnish the whole thing with a sprinkle of colorful edible flowers and have a taste and a sip of cool, dry rosé. Seemingly simple, yet so full of nuanced flavor, freshness, and texture, this salad was like the first day of spring, and it convinced me that I wanted to learn how to create this type of experience for people.
Interestingly enough, after completing my chef diploma, my first job was at Chez Panisse-- the same restaurant where I had that amazing salad! It was hard work, but whether tasked to shell and peel bushels of fava beans or make 40 pounds of fresh pasta by hand, every moment in that kitchen was as exciting as the next.
Now I realize that so much of that feeling was how menus evolved from each season's bounties and our community of local producers and farmers. Sure, Alice Waters and the cooks have always been committed to building each dish around the most flavorful ingredients available each season. Yet it's the commitment of local ranchers, fishers, foragers, artisan cheese-makers, and even backyard gardeners to provide quality ingredients --while simultaneously taking care of the land--that you can somehow feel in each dish. I'm so grateful for this life-changing experience and will never forget its impact on my life.
So, today, I'm reminiscing about all the incredible ways that my days at Chez Panisse have inspired me, especially how food can connect us with our environment and each other. Here's to family and friends, and the spirit of spring and new beginnings!