Chef Gaston Alfaro was introduced to the magic of cooking at an early age in his native El Salvador, witnessing his grandmother making pasta from scratch and hanging it to dry like clothing on a washing line. From the age of 14 he began experimenting in the kitchen, watching and learning as his grandmother created classic Italian dishes.
Chef Gaston Alfaro (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
His self-taught passion for culinary creation has continued throughout his 30-plus year career in the restaurant and hotel industry, thriving since his move to the United States and Northern California in 1976. Over the years, Alfaro has worked in many kitchens, preparing a wide range of cuisines, including Italian, German, French, Latin American and American fare.
While working in everything from traditional Italian restaurants such as Gino’s in San Francisco, to large hotel restaurants at the San Mateo Marriot, Embassy Suites Burlingame and the Crown Plaza Hotel in Foster City, Calif., Alfaro made it his mission to gather as much information as possible about different cooking techniques. And it wasn’t just the cuisine in these kitchens that Alfaro learned from, but the people. Working with colleagues from Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, China and Japan allowed the chef to pick up even more knowledge about flavors and recipes from many cultures.
As a result, Alfaro has become an alchemist of sorts, with an ability to meld flavors and techniques from different cuisines for a vibrant menu that resonates with global flavors, which are a perfect complement to the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s menu of California Coastal cuisine. Since arriving at the Brewing Company in April of 2009, Alfaro has added fusion-style dishes such as a seared ahi tuna with wasabi, soy and pickled ginger; and Yucatan-style halibut with the smoky flavor of achiote.
Alfaro’s enthusiasm for food can be seen in his colorful, beautifully presented plates, where every ingredient has a purpose. An emphasis on fresh, sustainable seafood means his ocean-caught creations are sublime and he has already gained a following for his spectacularly flavorful seafood soups and stews. Alfaro is dedicated to using only the freshest, finest seafood according to the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
His fondness for flavor and creative flair means that Alfaro is always dreaming up new recipes, which Brewing Company visitors are lucky enough to sample during his Chef’s Tasting evenings each Tuesday, where he shares his latest creations.
There are many reasons to visit HMB Brewing company; the views, the brews and of course the knockout cuisine. Chef Alfaro made his famous pesto crab dish for our Foodie Chap chat. This colorful Chef cooks with fun and flair and beyond the clown pants and orange shoes there is a serious chef who cooks seriously good food.
(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Baked Pesto Infused Dungeness Crab
By Chef Gaston Alfaro
Yields about 8 cups
3 bunches of fresh basil leaves
½ cup roasted pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch green onions, blanched
1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp white pepper
½ cup Asiago cheese
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups olive oil
Whole poached and cracked Dungeness crab
Put all ingredients in food processor, except for oil and cheese, and blend until smooth. Gradually add oil and cheese at the end.
Smother fresh poached, cracked crab with pesto sauce, making sure to cover meaty parts well. Bake in a 500° oven for 7 minutes.
Note: Pesto can be frozen in small batches. Let come to room temperature before using. Do not microwave.