By Kristina Sepetys
Beginning in the 1980s, Joanne Weir worked with David Tanis, Lindsey Shere, David Lebovitz, and a host of other fine chefs during her years at Chez Panisse. So it was something of a homecoming for Weir when she climbed the stairs to the Chez Panisse Café on a chilly evening last month. Except, instead of heading back to the kitchen to prepare meals, she was there to sign copies of her new book, Kitchen Gypsy, which recounts her journey as a chef, beginning on her grandparents’ New England farms and wending through cooking spaces around the country and the world. On the night she visited, the cozy, wood-paneled rooms at Chez Panisse were filled with guests eager to congratulate the warm, ebullient Weir, celebrate her latest cookbook, and enjoy wine and tasty bites provided by the Café.
The special menu was inspired by the new cookbook and included dishes made from locally produced ingredients that reflected both Weir’s and Alice Waters’s cooking styles: Little Gems lettuce with marinated beets and green goddess dressing; carrot soup with crème fraîche and anise hyssop (a particular favorite of Weir’s); grilled Stemple Creek Ranch sirloin with chanterelle mushrooms, thyme butter, and arugula salad; and a truly sublime crème caramel with quince, black currant tea prunes, and hazelnut ossi dei morti.
If you missed the marvelous Chez Panisse event, there’s still a chance to join Weir who is a cooking instructor, author of 17 cookbooks, host and producer of her own PBS television cooking series, and co-owner of Copita restaurant. It will be at a Commonwealth Club event with San Francisco chef and restaurateur Gary Danko, and it’s sure to be a lively exchange, since Weir is animated and engaging. She brings great stories and anecdotes about cooking and teaching around the world and in the Bay Area in particular.
The Commonwealth Club
Chef Joanne Weir in Conversation with Chef Gary Danko
Thursday December 3, 6:30pm
3491 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette
Cost: $15 members, $25 non-members, $10 students. Info and tickets: 415.597.6705.
Read our review of Kitchen Gypsy here.