KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Before opening Fog City as Chef in September 2013, Erik Lowe worked in some of San Francisco’s most notable kitchens and found inspiration alongside several influential chefs.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Lowe’s love for cooking can be traced back to childhood summers spent in the Pacific Northwest. Every Fourth of July, his family would come together in Camano Island, Washington, to spend time together, catching seafood and enjoying elaborate barbecued feasts. It was during these summers that Lowe realized that cooking great food comes from the heart and the most memorable meals come from a collaborative effort.
When Lowe was 15, he took his first job working as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Salt Lake City called Lettuce and Ladles then cooked his way through high school at the Porcupine Pub Grill. After graduation, Lowe began cooking innovative southwestern cuisine at Café Diablo outside Capital Reef National Park where he thrived on the culture and energy of the kitchen and decided he wanted to be a chef. In 2001, he enrolled in San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy.
Chef Erik Lowe (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
After graduating in 2003 and completing an influential and eye-opening externship at Gary Danko, Lowe worked alongside several great San Francisco chefs who taught him invaluable lessons. From learning how to keep a cool head under stress from Justin Deering at Jeanty at Jacks, to a crash course in Basque cuisine with Gerald Hirigoyen at Piperade, to learning about international flavors at George Morrone’s Tartare and discovering the importance of respectful relationships with local farmers from Greg Dunmore and Hiro Sone at Ame, Lowe carries all of these chefs’ lessons with him to this day.
In 2009, Lowe became the Chef De Cuisine at Bix where he met his mentor, acclaimed Bay Area chef and inventor Bruce Hill. It was Hill who taught Lowe how to really taste his food, and collaborate with farmers to bring truly seasonal ingredients to the plate. Lowe also met Pastry chef Aaron Toensing at Bix, with whom he built a strong connection in the kitchen. At FOG CITY, these collaborations and dedication to taste are the cornerstones of their successful kitchen.
To this day, Lowe still goes back to Washington every Fourth of July to partake in the family barbecue that helped shape the chef he has become as well as his cooking philosophy. With his cuisine, Lowe strives to invoke simultaneous feelings of discovery and nostalgia, with flavors that are subtly familiar yet are always presented in new and interesting ways.
When Lowe isn’t running the kitchen at FOG CITY, he can be found at a local farmers market, trying new restaurants, or making dinner and drinks at home with his girlfriend Jennette. We met at Fog City for our Foodie Chap chat. We talked, Chef cooked, we ate.
Fog City Hot Brown (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Fog City Hot Brown
The Hot Brown is an open faced “fork and knife” sandwich. To make a proper Hot Brown you must first make Mornay Sauce (see recipe, below). Mornay is a Béchamel sauce with grated cheese added to it for richness.
At Fog City we brine and roast our own turkeys but Thanksgiving leftovers or any sliced turkey breast will make a fine Hot Brown.
Find a crusty sourdough levain bread or a rustic batard for your base.
You will need to precook a few slices of bacon for garnish.
For each sandwich you will also need one ripe roma or early girl tomato.
At Fog City we finish the dish with a splash of veal demi glaze. It’s not completely necessary but a homemade or even store bought veal reduction sauce can take the dish over the top.
Garnish with curly parsley.
Preheat oven to 500° F. In a casserole dish or cast iron skillet with at least a 1 inch deep base, lay 1 inch thick slices of bread to cover the whole bottom of the pan.
Arrange the turkey slices on top of the bread.
Smother the turkey and bread in the mornay sauce and top with thick slices of tomato.
Put the casserole in the hot oven until the sauce is bubbly and starts to brown.
While the casserole is cooking warm up the demi sauce (if using).
Remove the casserole from the oven and put the bacon in a separate pan in the oven and lightly warm for 1 minute.
Lay the strips of bacon all over the casserole and drizzle veal demi all around and over the top.
Finish with a classic throwback of curly parsley sprigs (1 or 2 only).
¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter
4 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 grates of nut meg on a micro plane
8 oz. grated Point Reyes cheddar
1 oz. grated parmesan
– Combine flour and butter together over medium heat in a small pot with a thick bottom (to avoid scorching later).
– When the butter and flour has melted together let is simmer over low heat for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Be very careful that the roux doesn’t start turning brown, and remove it from the heat if it takes on color.
– When the roux is finished cooking remove it from the heat.
– In a separate pot bring the milk, salt and nutmeg to a boil.
– Place your pot with the roux back on the stove over medium heat and slowly add the hot milk to it while stirring with a whisk.
– Bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly; it is very easy to scorch this sauce so be mindful if you turn up the heat.
– Once the milk and flour mixture is simmering fold in all the grated cheese and remove from the heat.
– Taste your sauce. It may need a pinch of salt depending on the salt content of the cheese.