Foodie Chap With Chef Kelly MacDonald of the Napa Valley Wine Train
“5 Questions with Chef Kelly MacDonald”
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
It is not just respect for the experience that makes Chef Macdonald’s meals a captivating and joyful culinary journey. It is his belief in the food source itself.
No chemically enhanced products, no meats laced with growth hormones find their way on to any plate of food served as part of the exceptional Wine Train experience. Native California fish are either appropriately farm-raised or line caught; only meats that are humanely raised are considered; fresh local vegetables are, of course, requisite. But, it is not just about the best sources, it is also about talent and organization.
Foodie Chap: On Board The Napa Valley Wine Train
Besides his achievements with food and his depth of understanding and commitment to sustainable resources, Chef MacDonald creates works of art each day as the Napa Valley Wine Train leaves the station. All the meals are made fresh and to-order on board. It is an experience that wows the palate and surprises most guests who care to stop by the kitchen car and watch the creative staff in action.
MacDonald joined the Napa Valley Wine Train in 1993 and assumed the executive chef duties in 2001. He has twice been named (2003 and 2004) the People’s Choice Chef at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival. In addition to his other recognitions, MacDonald spearheaded the Napa Valley Wine Train’s recycling program for which we won an award for Outstanding Recycling Efforts (2008, 2009, 2011).
As Executive Chef for the renowned Napa Valley Wine Train, Macdonald’s philosophies are just one of the underpinnings that make the Wine Train an incredible and grand experience. The cooking quarters on the long galley like kitchen are small but the flavours are big. We first met 6 years ago on an EYE ON THE BAY shoot. Chef’s humour and heart coupled with his unbridled passion drew me in. Many years on Chef Kelly’s passion remains and the evidence shines on every single knockout dish prepped in the tiny train kitchen.
My recent voyage aboard the wine train opened my eyes to a fun way to soak up wine country enjoying fine dining and world class wines as you go. The four course feast paired with Napa wines is indeed a treat. So spoil yourself or someone you love to the wine train experience – it’s just the ticket for a lunchtime or dinnertime escape along one of the country’s most beautiful stretches of land, Napa wine country.
Visit the wine train web site for schedules and prices. Meantime hop along for the ride and enjoy my tasty talk and candid conversation with Chef Kelly MacDonald – a talented chef who cooks full steam ahead with a culinary engine full of heart.
(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Porcini Encrusted Seared Halibut
With seared Day Boat Scallop, banana fingerling potato, sautéed spinach
In Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc with Spinach Cream
1 lb fresh halibut (4 oz per person)
4 each Day Boat Scallops
1 oz Dry Porcini mushrooms
1 lb banana fingerling potatoes-cut lengthwise down middle
¼ cup Olive oil
2 bunches fresh spinach
1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
For The Spinach Cream
1 cup spinach leaves- packed
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, place the butter and shallots and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cream and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and cook 5 minutes then remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
For The Beurre Blanc
2 medium shallots, finely minced
2 cups white wine
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Salt and white pepper
¼ cup pureed roasted red peppers
In small saucepan, combine shallots, wine, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, approximately 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low. Whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, adding a piece as previous one melts. Don’t allow sauce to become too hot. Remove from heat and whisk in the red pepper puree until beurre blanc is smooth. Keep warm over a Bain Marie.
For the halibut & scallops
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Cut the halibut into 4 oz fillets. Salt and white pepper both sides of each fillet, then dust the interior side of the fillet (the side that did not have the skin on it) with the porcini dust. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan, then place the porcini dusted side of the halibut down in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until golden. Gently flip the fillets, remove from burner and place pan in oven for 10 minutes.
While the halibut is in the oven, heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and place the cut side of the fingerling potatoes down in the pan and cook until golden brown. Remove from stovetop and place in oven, baking until fork tender. While potatoes are in the oven, place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper the scallops, then cook the scallops on one side until golden brown, turn the scallops over, reduce heat to low and cook ~3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove the potatoes from oven and return to stovetop over medium heat, adding the garlic and spinach leaves and sauté just until spinach is wilted.
Arrange 4 plates. On the center of each plate, place the potato spinach mixture, and then top with a halibut fillet. Pour the beurre blanc sauce around the potato & spinach. Next, top the halibut with spinach cream, then place the scallop on top. Serve.