Foodie Chap: Town Hall & Salt House, San Francisco
By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Mitch Rosenthal is the co-owner and executive chef of three San Francisco restaurants, Town Hall, Salt House and Anchor & Hope, plus the newly-opened Irving Street Kitchen in Portland, OR. Rosenthal was a chef at the Four Seasons in New York City, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in San Francisco and Granita in Malibu, and numerous other places. He believes that cooking and eating should be a shared experience and every meal is a celebration.
“Every meal is a celebration.”
– Chef Mitchell Rosenthal
Mitch has made Southern food an art form. The evidence is on every page of his book and on every plate served up at his restaurants. In his cookbook just released, Cooking My Way Back Home, Rosenthal showcases the most popular dishes from his three successful restaurants, delivering warmth, personality and an infectious enthusiasm for the communal aspect of cooking and dining. He shared his delicious BBQ Shrimp and toasted garlic bread recipe with me for our taping. All his recipes in the book are tasty. but this one is off the charts.
Outside the kitchen, Chef Mitch enjoys precious time with his family and time around the Bay on his bicycle. We met at his Town Hall restaurant for our Foodie Chap chat. I discovered much about Chef’s amazing culinary journey and his love for family and food.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Mitchell Rosenthal
1. Define your cuisine.
Generous, flat out American and bold!
2. If you could pick a song or two to be in the soundtrack to your culinary journey, what would they be?
When I first started cooking it would be AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and since I’ve gotten older probably the Blues, Muddy Waters. It’s changed.
3. If you could come back in a second life, what would you be in your second life other than a chef?
I would like to be a few things; a Buddhist monk, something that I still think about and I’d love to win the Tour de France.
4. What is your biggest joy or passion outside of the kitchen?
Besides my family, bicycling. I used to Aikido and now it’s biking.
Liam: Any particular place you like to bike? Marin?
Chef: I live in Marin and you know what? It’s amazing. My wife is always like “We should move back to the city,” and I say “No way.” I roll my bike out of the house and I’m there.
5. At your last supper, you can have a few guests, dead or alive, who would they be and what would you eat?
My mom, Tom Plajonis, who was the first chef at the Jewish deli that I worked at, because he was always the one that would fight with me “You’re going to be a chef!” and I’d say “No I’m not going to be a chef,” and I’d really like to meet Muddy Waters. He’s really an inspiration for me. I don’t eat sugar so I would like the whole meal to be sweets. That would be pretty awesome.
Liam: Is there a particular sweet?
Chef: I don’t eat ice cream anymore so I would really love some mint chocolate chip or anything like that. I wouldn’t be too picky! Lots of sweets and I’d be really happy.
Liam: I’m going to pull up a chair. I’m going to be there! Chef, tasty answers! Thank you!
BBQ Shrimp with Toasted Garlic Bread
3 slices coarse country bread such as pain levain, about 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
9 to 12 large tail-on shrimp, peeled, with tail segments intact, and deveined
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup (6 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Town Hall Spice Mixture (page 253)
1/2 cup Dixie Beer or your favorite lager such as Budweiser
1 cup Shrimp Stock (page 250)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make the garlic bread, preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the bread slices on one side with the olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven, turning the slices over at the halfway point, for about 15 minutes, or until golden
brown and very crisp. (The bread must be very crisp so that it can support the sauce.)
Remove from the oven, and rub each slice on one side with the garlic clove. Sprinkle evenly with the parsley and keep warm.
To prepare the shrimp, season them with salt. In a large sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they begin to turn pink. Lower the heat to medium, push the shrimp to one side of the pan, and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Once it melts, add the garlic and spice mixture and cook for 1 minute, giving the pan a few shakes to distribute the garlic and seasoning. Add the beer and toss. With a pair of tongs, remove the shrimp from the pan, giving each one a little shake to drive off as much of the seasoning as possible, and set aside.
Turn the heat up to high and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the beer mixture is reduced by half. Add the stock and Worcestershire sauce and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by three-fourths. Meanwhile, cut the remaining 3/4 cup butter into 6 equal pieces. Lower the heat and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, working each piece in completely before adding the next. When all of the butter has been incorporated, add the lemon juice and a pinch or two of salt, and stir well. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir until well coated. Divide the garlic bread among individual plates and arrange the shrimp on top, dividing them evenly. Spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the shrimp and serve immediately.
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