Meet the Kitchen Gypsy

A tasting, a talk, and a book review


Chef Joanne Weir appears at two upcoming Bay Area events to talk about her new book Kitchen Gypsy. Photos courtesy of Joanne Weir.

Chef Joanne Weir appears at two upcoming Bay Area events to talk about her new book Kitchen Gypsy. Photos courtesy of Joanne Weir.

A Kitchen Gypsy at Chez Panisse

Celebrated chef and author Joanne Weir signs copies of her new book Kitchen Gypsy and shares memories from her days working on the line at Chez Panisse. Guests enjoy wine and tasty bites provided by the café. After the book signing, the café menu features flavorful dishes inspired by the book. Please make dinner reservations in advance by calling 510.548.5525. The book signing is free and open to the public, but requires an RSVP to

Kitchen Gypsy Book Signing with Joanne Weir
Thursday November 19, 4–6pm
Chez Panisse Café
1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley




Chefs in Conversation

Join Kitchen Gypsy author Joanne Weir as she talks with San Francisco chef and restaurateur Gary Danko. Weir reflects on her experience cooking with Alice Waters and traveling and teaching throughout Europe. She now hosts two public television cooking shows, and she won the James Beard Best Cookbook award in 2005. Cost: $15 members, $25 non-members, $10 students. Info and tickets: 415.597.6705 or here

The Commonwealth Club
Chef Joanne Weir in Conversation with Chef Gary Danko
Thursday December 3, 6:30pm
Lafayette Library
3491 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette




Wandering Gypsy

Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories
from a Lifelong Romance with Food
by Joanne Weir
(Oxmoor House, 2015)

Review by Kristina Sepetys

When Joanne Weir was a child growing up in Massachusetts, her father called her his “wandering gypsy” because he knew how much she liked to explore. Perhaps even in those early years he saw the wanderlust and passionate interest in food that would eventually take her from East Coast to West, to Italy, France, and Morocco, with many stops in between. The author of 17 cookbooks, and the host and producer of her own PBS television cooking series, in her latest effort recounts “all the tales of my gypsy-like journey through life’s kitchens.”

The kitchens include those of her culinarily skilled mother and in her grandparents’ farmhouses, the creative and innovative crucible of Chez Panisse, romantic cooking schools in Europe, and finally back to her own Mexican restaurant kitchen in Northern California. To tell her story, Weir weaves together descriptions of the people, places, and food that have inspired her cooking career, creating a delightful scrapbook and recipe collection. Her annotated culinary journey may feel familiar to many readers, especially locals who’ll recognize institutions like Chez Panisse, Monterey Market, and other East Bay spots.

Her anecdotes and stories all involve food, and Weir has included 100 of those recipes in her book. She begins with childhood favorites from the 1950s like Mom’s Tomato Sandwich, a 140-year-old recipe for Lettie’s Lightning Cake with Wild Strawberry Jam from her great-grandmother, and dishes of her early college years like Arroz Con Pollo and Provincetown Seafood Stew. She then moved on to Chez Panisse, where she learned to make Pizzetta with Parsley Salad and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and later perfected dishes like Beef Roulade with Mushrooms and Garlic during her Master Chef training in France.

Weir is currently owner and chef of Copita, a Mexican restaurant and tequileria in Sausalito, known for dishes like Fried Pork Belly Tacos with Pipián Sauce, Spiced Papas Bravas with Avocado Crema (Mexican fried potatoes), Elote with Chipotle Crema (grilled corn in the husk and topped with a mixture of chiles, cotija cheese, onion, and spiced soured cream), and Oaxacan Chocolate Milk Shakes.

Given how much of her career has been spent teaching and producing cookbooks, perhaps it’s not surprising that all of the recipes in Weir’s book are easy to follow and reliable to re-create in home kitchens, even though many originate in restaurants. But more than just recipes, as Alice Waters remarks in her forward to the book, “Joanne’s infectious enthusiasm for food, farming, and teaching draws readers effortlessly into a new and beautiful relationship to food.”