By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Executive Chef Jesse Llapitan’s love of cooking began as child in his family’s kitchen. Jesse grew up on a farm outside of Seattle Washington. His family used their farm fresh fruits and vegetables to create traditional and flavorful simple dishes. These beginnings provided his inspiration to become a chef. Today Jesse’s passion is evident in the Palace kitchen.
Jesse joined the Palace team in June 2005. Chef Llapitan comes to the Palace from The Houstonian Club & Spa in Texas where he worked as Executive Chef since June 2003. Prior to his appointment at the Houstonian, Chef Llapitan was the Executive Chef for three years at the St. Regis Los Angles and was instrumental in the hotel’s grand opening. His extensive resort experience also includes serving as Executive Chef at the four-diamond Vail Cascade Resort and at the four-star, four-diamond Whitehall Hotel in Chicago. Jesse’s first appointment as Executive Chef was at the Harborside Hyatt Hotel in Boston. Prior to becoming an Executive Chef he worked as the Executive Sous Chef for the Hyatt Regency in Washington DC and as the Garde Manger Chef at the Grand Hyatt Wailea Resort on Maui Hawaii.
“Cooking to me is about making people happy through food.”
– Jesse Llapitan, Executive Chef
Chef Llapitan graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and completed his internship at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris France in 1989. He uses his culinary talents to support many community organizations and is actively involved in food and wine events. In 2002 he was the recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Chef Award from the American Institute of Food and Wine. In 2007 Chef Llapitan was appointed Vice President of the Professional Chefs Association for the San Francisco chapter.
In addition to his involvement with professional chefs and peers, Jesse remains involved in the future of the culinary profession. He enjoys teaching and mentoring the chefs of tomorrow. Jesse has implemented an extensive internship program for students of the California Culinary Academy at the Palace.
Chef Llapitan prepares dishes influenced by his appreciation for classical French technique and his own modern style. Jesse’s unique blend of cuisines and use of the finest seasonal ingredients result in a creative signature menu with fresh California flare exclusive to the Palace.
I have had the joy of working the line in the busy Palace Hotel kitchen under Chef Jesse’s watch. My scallops that one manic Monday lunch hour were returned to the kitchen after a complaint from a diner that they were “overcooked and rubbery” – my bad. It was indeed a humbling moment. Chef Jesse did not judge me that day. He just told me to redo the dish until I got it right. One hour later we had a happy customer.
Some years have passed since then. So to the Palace Hotel I returned just recently for our Foodie Chap chat. This unassuming, cucumber cool Chef is always a treat to hang with.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Jesse Llapitan
1. What is always in your fridge?
Butter, but what I always have to have in my freezer is bacon, because when I run out of bacon in my fridge, I always have some reserved.
2. What is the dish that reminds you of home?
Pork adobo. That’s one of the dishes that would always bring me back to my house. It would remind me of where I was from, my mom making it in the kitchen, the rice cooking, and the oil that you put with the pork adobo on top of the rice. Oh, it’s so good!
3. If not a chef what might you be?
Well, there are two things. One I would be a landscape gardener and I’d also like to be a mechanic, but not just a regular mechanic but someone that restores old cars.
4. What is your passion that drives you outside of the kitchen?
What drives me is the wilderness. I love being outside running, playing racquetball, skiing, hiking, picking weeds, it doesn’t matter I just love being outside.
5. At your last supper, who will be there and what will you eat?
Besides my family, at my last supper I would probably have Elizabeth Hurley, because she’s hot, Sela Ward, because she’s hot too, and I would have Eddie Van Halen, because he’s a good rock guitar player. We are going to have sautéed veal liver, with caramelized onions, cracked pepper and a little bit of soy on top of rice. Oh Gosh! Then I’d have a buri kama, which is a yellowtail buri kama, which is the collarbone, just grilled and salted with some rice also. I’d accompany that with a nice glass of Petit Syrah.
Liam: Great tasty answers!
The Garden Court Steak Oscar Modern
Grilled filet of beef, signature jumbo lump crab cake, green and white asparagus, sauce béarnaise.
4 oz grilled filet of beef tenderloin
Blanched green and white asparagus, seasoned with salt and pepper
Jumbo lump crabcake:
3 sprigs of cilantro, leaves pulled and minced
8 oz Dungeness crab meat
6 oz 10/20 scallops
½ whole egg
1 T heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Blend scallop mousse ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Gently fold in cilantro and crab meat.
Form in a patty, and pan fry until golden brown on the outside and warm in the middle.
1 egg yolk
1 cup clarified butter, slightly warm
2 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Whisk egg yolk until frothy and doubled in size.
Very slowly pour butter into egg while whisking, in a slow and steady stream, adding more butter until thickened and desired consistency.
Gently whisk in tarragon and lemon juice, season with salt.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)