By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Gerald Hirigoyen’s aspiration to become a chef at the tender age of eight was likely a result of growing up in a family where both parents were zealous about cooking.
As a teenager he moved to Paris from Biarritz for a classical pastry apprenticeship under Master Patissier Jean Millet, and by his mid-twenties, Hirigoyen decided it was time to venture abroad. Following his arrival in the U.S. were stints at classic French restaurants, all in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It was in 1991 that Hirigoyen’s gifted skills as a chef and restaurateur came to the forefront, however, when he and a partner opened Fringale, a truly modern French bistro, to national acclaim. As Michael Bauer once stated in a San Francisco Chronicle review, “Fringale set the bar for casual, well-priced bistro fare for more than a decade and made an instant star of Hirigoyen.”
No truer example exists of Hirigoyen’s ability to integrate the two cuisines, the local spirit as well as that of his homeland , than Piperade, the restaurant that he opened with his wife Cameron in 2002.
After clearly demonstrating his knack for bridging cultures and cuisines, Hirigoyen seized the opportunity in the summer of 2004 to create a stylish Spanish tapas bar. Bocadillos, (which means “little sandwiches,”) represents what Hirigoyen likes to call “San Sebastian meets Barcelona in San Francisco.”
Chef Gerald’s restaurants Bocadillos and Piperade both have delicious menus, but of all his offerings Chef chose his famous Endive, Pomegrnate & Persimmon with “Perfect Blondes” salad. We made his delish and simple recipe together at Piperade on Battery Street, San Francisco.
>> Enjoy the Chef Gerald Hirigoyen interview here.
5 Questions with Chef Hirigoyen
1. What is your guilty food pleasure?
2. What libation is always in your fridge?
A bottle of champagne.
3. What condiment is always in your kitchen?
4. If you were not working as a chef what might your profession be?
I would be a big wave rider.
5. You are planning your LAST SUPPER. What will you eat and who would your dinner guests be?
I would prepare a nice steak with a little sea salt and black truffles. Plus a butter lettuce salad with fresh herbs. My dinner guests would be Chef Auguste Escoffier, Mountaineer Sir Edmund Hilary and cyclist Miguel Indurain.
Chef Gerald’s Endive, Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad with “Perfect Blondes”
4 heads Belgian endive, halved and thinly sliced
Seeds from half of a pomegranate (approx. 1/4 cup)
2 small fuyu persimmons, washed, cored and finely sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh walnuts (we use the brand “Perfect Blondes” from our friend and small farmer who hand delivers them to us from Yuba County, but any good quality walnuts will do)
2 tablespoons moscatel vinegar *
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground Piment d’Espelette (or black pepper)
Combine the endive, pomegranate, persimmons, parsley, chives and walnuts in a large salad bowl and set aside.
To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar and olive oil together in a small container and pour it evenly over the salad. Season the salad with salt and piment d’Espelette according to taste. Serve immediately.
* Tip: If possible, reduce the moscatel vinegar by half (50%) over a slow boil beforehand, let it cool to room temperature, then measure the 2 tablespoons for this recipe. By doing this, the resulting flavor will be even richer and sweeter on the palate!
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