This month, I photographed another event hosted by Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project to support Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter in Marin County providing food, shelter and job training for those in need. Their March event shared the delicious food of Chef Austin Perkins from Nick’s Cove in Marshall, CA off of Tomales Bay. The restaurant sits perched along the water, and every table boasts a window seat. Their menu highlights the bounty of local farms and the seafood of the Bay. It is truly locally-sourced, seasonable and sustainable California cuisine at its finest!
Chef Perkins menu for the evening reflected the fresh tastes of West Marin and began with a delicious dish of baked Oysters Mornay. The oysters were generously donated by neighbouring Hog Island Oyster Co. and were some of the freshest and most delicious I’ve tasted! What’s not to love about oysters covered in cheese and cream?
The oysters were followed by a tasty Warm Chard Salad with Duck Confit. I had never eaten raw rainbow chard before, but the ribbons of leaves were so tender and paired beautifully with the savoury duck and sweet strawberries. Chef Perkins shared that rainbow chard grows plentifully in the 3-acre garden found at Nick’s Cove, and his crew is often coming up with inventive ways to use all of it.
The main course was Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. Whenever I see short ribs on a restaurant menu, I almost always have to order it — there’s something so homey, yet so extravagant about it! The short ribs were fall-off-the bone tender and nestled in a delicious tomato and wine sauce — so good!
The evening, hosted by Chef Rochelle Boucher, ended with Nick Cove’s delightful pastry Chef, Fernanda Hurst, who demonstrated the restaurant’s Creme Brûlée. She taught guests how to temper the custard, as well as torch the sugar to give creme brûlée its signature topping. The dessert offered just the right amount of creamy sweetness to end a delicious meal!
Come back to hear about the next Fresh Starts Chef Event with Chef Joanne Weir, owner of Copita restaurant in Sausalito, cookbook author, and PBS-host of the TV series, Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence.
Warm Rainbow Chard Salad – (Serves 6 – 8)
Ingredients – For the vinaigrette
1 cup sherry vinegar
1 ½ cups high-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper
Combine sherry vinegar with olive oil.
Add salt, thyme, mustard and pepper. Whisk vigorously until emulsified. Set aside.
Ingredients – For the salad
1 cup duck confit (bacon, ham or pancetta may be substituted)
2 quarts rainbow chard, stem removed and julienned
1 lb. strawberries, sliced
2 leeks, julienned
1 pint toasted cashews
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
In a sauté pan, add shredded duck confit to hot vegetable or olive oil, and crisp evenly on all sides.
Add the leeks and cashews, sauté briefly, about 30 seconds. Add ½ cup sherry vinaigrette.
In a small bowl, combine the chard and strawberries. Pour the hot vinaigrette-duck mixture over the chard and strawberries and toss thoroughly until all of the chard is evenly coated. Serve immediately.