Ask A Bay Area Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

June 18, 2016 5:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If you’re ready to celebrate Independence Day with great food and you’ve been designated to cook for your entire group, we’ve selected some top chefs in the Bay Area to recommend their favorite and easiest recipes for 4th of July parties. First, Michael Nguyen gives a recipe for a distinct and flavorful pulled pork that is paired with a mouth-watering coleslaw. Michael also lets us in on the secrets to The Vine Restaurant’s popular burger, aptly named The Vine Burger, along with other flavorful dishes. Clay Brunton has been head of two exclusive venues within The Palm Event Center in the Vineyard and Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery. Read on for some easy recipes for your holiday fun.

Mike Ask A Bay Area Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes


Michael Nguyen

The Vine in Niles
37533 Niles Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94536
(510) 792-0112

Hood Grub at the Broken Record
1166 Geneva Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94134
(415) 347-7811

Michael Nguyen is an East Bay native, who worked at Backyard Bayou and Plumed Horse before working at The Vine and Hood Grub. Nestled within the historical district of Niles, in Fremont, The Vine offers exciting dishes that are always being crafted and served. The 4th of July is an exciting holiday for this restaurant, and something fun and festive is always planned for this holiday. The Hood Grub is located at The Broken Record in SF, where local and sustainable foods similar to The Vine are also intertwined with a whiskey bar setting. Nguyen suggests these easy recipes to serve for your 4th of July event.

Hood Grub’s Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This very spicy pulled pork sandwich is a highly popular dish. Nguyen suggests that you pull this recipe ahead by a day, since there are a couple of steps. The cilantro-lime coleslaw adds “a whole new depth of flavor” according to Michael.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3.5 hours
Yield: Approximately 15 servings


  • 5 lbs. Niman Ranch Organic pork butt or shoulder
  • 1 C Pork Rub (recipe follows)
  • 2 C of ketchup
  • 1 T of hickory seasoning or liquid smoke
  • 2 T of paprika
  • 1 T cayenne pepper
  • 4 T chopped garlic
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T granulated ginger
  • Water as needed
  • Cilantro-lime coleslaw (recipe follows)
  • 15 kaiser rolls


Rub pork with a generous amount of pork seasoning. Place pork in a large baking pan. Fill pan with water about 3/4 of the way up the side of the pork. Wrap the pan tightly in foil and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 3.5 hours. Remove pork from pan and place into a large pot. Pour 4 cups of the liquid from the pan into the pot. Combine the ketchup, hickory, paprika, cayenne, garlic, molasses, black pepper and ginger in the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and mash the pork with a large wooden spoon until it shreds. Scoop pulled pork onto a kaiser roll and top with cilantro-lime coleslaw.

Pulled Pork Rub
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: Approximately 5 cups


  • 2 C kosher salt
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T granulated onion
  • 1 T granulated garlic
  • 2 T dark chili powder
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 2 C brown sugar

Instructions: Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Approximately 15 servings


  • 1 head of green cabbage
  • 3 C of red cabbage
  • 2 C of shredded carrots
  • 2 C honey mustard
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

The Vine Burger

The Vine burger is another favorite dish. Nguyen and his staff uses a 60/40 blend of ground beef to ground pork. The fat from the pork makes our burger extra tender and juicy. The asiago cheese in the burger mix helps bind the meat when it cooks. This burger is served at both The Vine and Hood Grub.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 10 burgers


  • 3 lbs. Niman Ranch Grass Fed ground beef
  • 2 lbs. Niman Ranch Organic ground pork
  • 2 C shredded asiago cheese
  • 2 T cracked black pepper
  • 4 T kosher salt
  • 3 T granulated onion
  • 3 T granulated garlic
  • 1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
  • 10 slices of pepper jack cheese
  • 10 slices of heirloom tomatoes
  • 10 telera rolls
  • 5 C of wild arugula


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Portion and form the meat into 8-oz. patties. Grill the patties to your desired temperature. Top with pepper jack cheese, tomato and arugula, and serve on a telera roll.

Summer Farro Salad

Farro (FAR-oh) is an ancient grain and has a higher protein content than brown rice. Heirloom tomatoes and avocados are great summer produce, and adds color to the dish. Nguyen adds that “The Mediterranean vinaigrette is very bold and can be used on any salad you desire. This recipe is a nice refreshing accompaniment to your meal, and the entire dish is actually vegan.”

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Approximately 10 servings


  • 4 C uncooked semi-pearled Farro
  • Cold water as needed
  • 1 C salt
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 avocados, peeled, seeded, 1/2-inch diced
  • 1/4 C chopped mint
  • 2 C Mediterranean dressing (recipe follows) 


Lay Farro out on an even layer on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven at 400 degrees F until golden brown. In a large pot, cover Farro with water until it reaches 3 inches from the top of the Farro. Pour in the salt. Boil until al dente. Drain the Farro and cool in an ice bath. Drain the Farro and allow it to dry. Toss the Farro with the tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, mint and Mediterranean dressing.

Mediterranean Dressing


  • 2 T ground coriander
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 2 T red chili flake
  • 2 T ground caraway seed
  • 2 T black pepper
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 1 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 C olive oil
  • Salt, to taste


Combine all of the spices with the apple cider vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour the oil in a constant stream while simultaneously whisking to create an emulsion. Once all of the oil has been incorporated, add salt to taste. Use to toss with the Summer Farro Salad or any of your favorite greens.

headshotcasareal Ask A Bay Area Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

Clay Brunton (Courtesy of Casa Real)

Clay Brunton
Executive Chef at
Beets Hospitality Group

345 Wright Brothers Ave.
Livermore, CA 94551
(925) 294-8667

Brunton is the Executive Chef for Beets Hospitality Group, an event management and catering company that operates two exclusive event venues, The Palm Event Center in the Vineyard and Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery. Clay Brunton specializes in menu research and development and has worked in the food industry for the past 24 years. Brunton suggests the following easy-to-make recipes for your next 4th of July event.

Chorizo and Date Wrapped in Bacon

  • Chorizo sausage in casing, 1/2-inch slices
  • Medjool dates with seeds removed, cut in half
  • Applewood-smoked bacon, cut in half horizontally

*All of these ingredients are a 1-1 ratio, use as many as you wish to serve.


Line up the bacon on a clean cutting board. Place 1 slice of chorizo on each piece of bacon. Place a half of a date on the chorizo. Roll the chorizo and date in the bacon. Put the chorizo and date wrapped in bacon on a sheet pan with the seam-side down. Bake for about 20 minutes, until they start to get dark on the top. Stick them with toothpicks, transfer to a plate and serve.

Brunton says this recipe is a crowd favorite and very popular as an hors d’oeuvre. “The combination of sweet and salty is a winner and fits any occasion. It is also good with a slice of jalapeño in place of the date.”

Achiote-Marinated Tri-Tip
Tri-Tip Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C achiote paste
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 2 jalapeños
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place achiote paste, orange juice, cilantro, vegetable oil and jalapeños in a blender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Puree. Cover the tri-tip with the mixture and place in baking dish or plastic bag. Let the meat marinate overnight. Grill on medium heat until cooked to your preference.

“This marinade is perfect for grilling.” Says Clay. “The sugars caramelize and the deep red color of the marinade is really eye-catching.”

Grilled Marinated Vegetables

  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • Any other vegetables you would like to use
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 t ground fennel seed
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Lay sliced vegetables out on a sheet pan. Mix together olive oil, garlic, fennel seed, coriander, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Brush marinade liberally on vegetables and let sit for 20 minutes. Grill until just tender.

Brunton says, “It is nice to offer a tasty vegetarian option at an event, and the flavor of the grilled vegetables can’t be beat.” He also adds that “leftovers can be tossed into a pasta salad the next day.”

Raspberry Clafoutis 

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C, plus 2 T sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C, plus 2 T milk
  • 1 1/2 pints raspberries (3 C)
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the gratin dish and top with raspberries. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

Brunton explains that raspberries are in season and just getting good during this time of the year. “This simple recipe really showcases the fruit. It is like a custard pie, but the flour gives it a little bit more body. I think this dish is best warm, not too hot.”

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at

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