Category Archives: Features

MICHELIN Guides San Francisco 2014 Star Gala

Bibendum Michelin Guide - Food Fashionista

‘Tis the season for Michelin Guide releases! It’s the time of the year that the most highly-regarded chefs around the globe wait in anticipation for THAT phone call, and then breathe a sigh of relief (or not), for about a week until they warrior back in their kitchens until next year’s announcements.

Michelin Guide Gala 2014

With lovely ladies Martina Kostow, Dominique Crenn, Heidi Brown, Amanda Lam. Where’s #DaisyLainu?

MICHELIN Gala - San Francisco                                          It isn’t a party without never ending bubbly

On a recent, crisp, fall evening in San Francisco, I attended the San Francisco MICHELIN gala at the opulent Bently Reserve to celebrate the launch of the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco, Bay Area and Wine Country 2014 Guide. Gastronomy-loving guests mingled with their favorite local culinary stars  while enjoying a champagne reception, and a walk-around tasting featuring cuisine from select Michelin-starred chefs/restaurants including Mourad Lahlou (Aziza), Mark Sullivan (Spruce), Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone (Ame’), Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara (Sons and Daughters).

Michelin Chefs - Food Fashionista

Chefs Alexa Atala, David Kinch, Dominique Crenn, Corey Lee, Josh Skenes, Daniel Patterson

Spotted in the well-heeled crowd enjoying an extremely rare Tuesday night off were chefs Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood), David Breeden (French Laundry), Josh Skenes (Saison), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn), Daniel Patterson (Coi), Corey Lee (Benu), David Kinch (Manresa), James Syhabout (Commis), and powerhouse Brazilian chef Alex Atala of restaurant D.O.M. in São Paulo who was in town for the release of his new cookbook.

Mourad Lahlou, Michael Ellis, Teague Moriary62427                  Michelin’s Michael Ellis with Chefs Mourad Lahlou and Teague Moriarty

Truffle                                 This truffle fit perfectly into my purse ;D

Michelin Guide Director Michael Ellis flew in from Paris for the special event, and was delighted to enjoy a reunion with Le Toque Executive Chef Ken Frank, who Ellis had worked with many years back. Isn’t it funny how food always brings people back together.

Quince Chef Michael Tusk MichelinBibendum flexing with Bay Area’s newest MICHELIN two-star chef, Michael Tusk (Quince)

Mika Takeuchi - Michelin Guide Sons and Daughters                            Plating with the chefs from Sons and Daughters

Michelin Guide Restaurants and Chefs San Francisco Bay Area                                                   Striking a well-deserved pose

Christopher Kostow, Joshua Skenes

Michelin Guide Gala 2014                                             Team French Laundry in the House!!!

Michelin Guide Gala Desserts

Michelin Guide San Francisco 2014           Saison SF Caneles Michelin Guide                    Concluding the night in style with Shawn Gawle’s Canelés at Saison

Along with stellar food recommendations, Michelin is the go-to guide for all things travel. Whether it’s road trippin’ in Arizona, or livin’ it up in the French Riviera, Michelin has you covered. As a MICHELIN Brand Ambassador, I’m excited to offer you a discount on the guides that accompany me on my travel journeys. Just click on the widget below. They make fab holiday gifts for food lovers, travel junkies, and future explorers as well!

This article is part of my Brand Ambassador features for MICHELIN.

Nespresso Maestria Machine + Coffee Giveaway

Mika Nespresso USA

Ever since I became the official San Francisco blogger for Nespresso USA, everyone always asks what machine happens to be my absolute favorite. It’s a tough question since each of them are sleek, contemporary, high-tech, and efficient. They are all unique and each hold a special place in my caffeinated heart, but today it’s all about the mean, lean, and sexy Maestria machine.

I’m so excited to announce that one of you lucky Nespresso fans will soon be the winner of a black standard Maestria machine. It retails for $549 and believe me folks, this is one fabulous coffee machine. This Nespresso model will bring an expert, professional, barista experience right into your home. I predict that once your friends and family know that you have this new addition to the household, you’ll be getting a lot more guests coming over. I’m no fortune teller, but that same scenario kind of happened to me.

Nespress Barista - Food Fashionista
 The luxurious Maestria machine includes a hands on, elegant, retro design, featuring high-quality materials and a full aluminum body. Versatility, capacity and expertise will allow you to prepare milk froth like a true barista with a new and improved steam pipe. You’ll be doing your own impressive coffee art in no time!

Nespresso Americas Cup Machine


And although we now know who won the 34th America’s Cup, everyone in San Francisco and many around the world are still buzzing about the thrilling twists and turns that occured with this world-class sailing event. Nespresso was the official coffee for the America’s Cup races and has been a dedicated supporter of this international sport of sailing for nearly a decade. They also sponsored Emirates Team New Zealand who fought an incredible race, but in the end it was Oracle Team USA who defended the cup here at home in the U.S.

Nespresso - Food Fashionista-

americas cup - nespresso

To celebrate America’s Cup, Nespresso even created a Limited Edition America’s Cup version of the black Maestria. The Limited Edition America’s Cup Maestria machine is embellished with the America’s Cup logo and International Maritime Signal Flags. It’s truly a collector’s item and a dreamy gift for the coffee lover and sailing fan. The giveaway is for the standard black Maestria machine, but the Limited Editon America’s Cup Maestria machine is truly a functional conversation piece and it’s available for a limited time at Nespresso Flagship Boutiques (New York, Miami, Boston, and San Francisco), Nespresso Boutique-in-Shop locations, through the Nespresso site.  

Nespress Grand Crus - Food Fashionista

Okay, now to the juicy contest details. To enter to win the standard black Nespresso Maestria machine with a set of Nespresso coffee capsules, leave a comment below expressing why you would love this black beauty in your life. Also, make sure to follow Food Fashionista on Twitter or Facebook or both. 

Winner will be chosen at random. Good luck, everyone!

Comments must be received by 11:59 pm PST on November 4, 2013, winner will be notified by November 6, 2013.

The machine is the exact same one (in black) as the one Penelope Cruz is daydreaming about below, but for a full description of the machine that may soon be yours, visit Nespresso USA.

 penelope cruz - nespresso - food fashionista


Chefs’ Holidays 2013 at The Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite


Roasted Lobster Tail with Cauliflower and Uni by Chef Douglas Keane 

I just got back from an incredible experience at Chefs’ Holidays at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel and I can’t wait to share it all with you. I took an abundant number of photos, and will be recapping everything here on the blog in the next hours and days.

In the meantime, click on my album below for photos and recipes from the event. I’ll be adding more and more photos to the album, so be sure to follow and check back for more. Expect to see posts featuring Chef Douglas Keane, Peter Armellino, and Victor Scargle; along with the Chefs of The Ahwahnee.

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Thanksgiving at home with Michael Mina & Family


The first thing people think about when it comes to Thanksgiving, is the feast. So fitting it was to experience a Turkey-day celebration with chef Michael Mina and family at their home in Marin County. Although it was Michael’s day off, he was joyously slaving in the kitchen preparing all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings and then some. Absent of his signature black buttoned-up chef’s jacket and comfortably donning a relaxed white polo with denim and sneakers, this was Michael Mina in his enchanted element. His passion for cooking and being in the kitchen was apparent from the moment we stepped foot in the house. Like the perfect host, he wanted to make sure we were well fed, and continually well fed throughout the day. No surprise the man has accumulated 18 restaurants across the country with several more to open in 2011. Michael Mina loves feeding people and people love eating his food.


Thanksgiving-prime rib


Today at the Mina house, there were no perfectly-plated tuna tartares, caviar parfaits or tableside lobster pot pies which he has become so identified with in his restaurants. Instead, there was the homey, attack-and-eat by hand plate of ribs in the backyard with the kids and the intoxicating balm of roasted garlic-rosemary turkey breasts which filled the Autumn air. Despite the laid-back casualness of it all, it wouldn’t have been a signature Michael Mina experience without a little sumptuousness added in. As if our overflowing dinner plates weren’t a bolstering reminder to hit the gym first thing Black Friday, Thanksgiving at home Mina style included a sultry bowl of butternut squash lobster bisque and a colossal pan of not-your-mother’s steamy black truffle stuffing. Also on hand was the most succulent medium-rare prime rib accompanied by a generous portion of side dishes – Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, carrots, crab cakes, mashed potatoes and gravy.




Thanksgiving day is all about giving thanks and reminding ourselves what we are grateful for. Besides the obvious gratitude for the bountiful feast that was in front of me, Thanksgiving with Michael Mina reminded me that when an individual creates a living incorporating what they are passionate about in life…even on their days off, they are going to do it with fulfilling gratitude.

Despite the fact that Michael Mina “the chef”, is now a business man and brand name with an ever-evolving and expanding restaurant empire, he is someone who began his career in the industry because he simply loved food, loved to cook and loved sharing it with others. Little did he know when he enrolled at the C.I.A. over twenty years ago, that one day he would look back knowing that he employed thousands, mentored many, and fed millions in his lifetime. On this Thanksgiving evening, he and his wife Diane donated the leftovers from our festive spread to the local food bank.




Like Michael, I’ve learned that when you make a choice in life to recognize your innate gifts, and pursue your dreams, the road may at times be rocky, but it will be passionately rewarding. The holidays are always reflective. I don’t know if it’s because they remind us how fast time goes by or if it’s because they make us think twice about how we spend or waste our lives? Or maybe it’s just that we overindulge during these times and the food coma makes us even more contemplative? Whatever it is, it’s important to ask yourself what are you thankful and grateful for today? How do you spend your days? How do you want to spend the rest of your life?

Just remember…it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Michael Mina - a young aspiring cook from rural Washington State, who had big dreams of one day cooking in a big city. Today, at age 42, he has numerous accolades and 18 restaurants under his belt. Chef Michael Mina is proof that when you combine gratitude and hard work, dreams can come true.


Happy Thanksgiving from Food Fashionista.

For some wonderful Michael Mina Recipes, including a Sweet Potato Souffle’ and a Butterscotch Steamed Bread Pudding, visit HERE

For more information on Michael Mina’s Restaurants, visit HERE

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Hubert Keller’s Fleur Burger Recipe

Previously posted in 2009 before Fleur de Lys Vegas closed for remodel. It has since reopened as Fleur. A Burger Bar has also since opened in San Francisco.

Hubert Keller Fleur Burger Truffle Foie Gras

Chef Hubert Keller is founder/restaurateur of the acclaimed Fleur de Lys (San Francisco and Las Vegas), the Burger Bar (Las Vegas and St. Louis) and recently opened Sleek Steakhouse and Ultra Lounge (St. Louis).

Keller's Fleur Burger (above) is made with Kobe beef and is adorned with black truffles and foie gras. It is sold at Fleur de Lys in Vegas' Mandalay Bay for $5,000 and is accompanied by a bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus. Keller's burger is the most expensive in the U.S..

Now you can impress your guests by creating one of these ultra luxe Fleur Burgers at home with the following recipe:

Hubert Keller's – The Fleur Burger recipe
Makes 4 servings

1 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup brown Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. coarsely ground beef
2 Tbsp. Madeira or port
4 Fleur Buns
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 oz. black Perigord truffle, very thinly sliced (about 5 slices per person)
8 to 10 oz duck foie gras
Fleur de sel
1 bunch watercress, washed and picked over.

For burgers, shape meat into 4 8- oz. patties about 1 inch thick. Handle lightly to keep texture and juicy. In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and about 2 Tbsp. of stock until well blended. Set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Generously season meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook meat on 1 side until brown, about 1 minute. Then turn and brown second side about 3 minutes. With large spoon, baste burgers several times with fat in pan. Turn again and cook another 3 minutes, basting occasionally, for medium rare. Remove burgers to warm platter and reserve cooking skillet. Keep burgers warm and let rest several minutes before serving.

Working quickly so skillet is still hot, pour out remaining fat, and return pan to medium-high heat. Deglaze with Madeira: cook until reduced to 1 tsp. Add remaining stock and bring to boil. Cook until reduced by about a third, about 2 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute.

Split bun and lightly toast. Spread 2 Tbsp. of butter on cut side of buns. Set aside.

While burgers are resting, place dry skillet over medium heat until hot. Remove foie gras from refrigerator and put directly into hot pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until browned, about 30 seconds, and turn again. Turn again and cook 30 seconds and repeat. Foie gras should be brown and crusty on both sides. Be careful not to burn foie gras or fat remaining in pan. Drain foie gras on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm. Pour fat from pan into Madeira sauce (if desired).

Heat remaining butter in skillet over medium heat until butter begins to bubble. Add truffle slices and cook until warm through, about 30 seconds. Set aside and keep warm.

To assemble burgers, put bottom half of the bun on plate. Arrange burger on bun and drizzle with sauce. Top each with slice of foie gras and slices of truffle. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Balance top of each bun against burger and add a few sprigs of watercress between bun and burger. Serve immediately.

For more info on Gourmet Burgers in Las Vegas, visit here

For more information on chef Hubert Keller and his restaurants, visit Hubert Keller

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