KCBS radio Foodie Chap and CBS 5 television Eye On The Bay host Liam Mayclem introduces us to the culinary stars behind the food and wine loved by so many in the Bay Area.
By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap

Raised in the seaside town of Kailua on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Ravi Kapur began to appreciate great food and hospitality early on. “Hawaii is so family-oriented, and the best way to get everyone together is to gather them around a table, eating grilled fish bought from a roadside stand just hours before,” he recalls. “Hawaiians are incredibly giving; everyone is taught to share and take care of others, and that notion of hospitality is what you could point to as truly Hawaiian in me.” At Prospect, in his first post as executive chef, Kapur is focused on those very same principals: ensuring a welcoming environment for diners and presenting interesting flavors on the plate.

“Being a chef defines who I am.”
– Chef Ravi Kapur

Kapur graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1999. He then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, working first at the beloved Coyote Café, then at the Compound, one of the mainstay’s of the city’s fine dining scene. Kapur returned to San Francisco to open Redwood Park in the Transamerica Pyramid, working for a year under George Morrone and Michael Mina.

In 2002, upon returning from a stint of travel, Kapur landed as a job at Boulevard. He immediately felt a professional kinship with his mentors, Nancy Oakes and Pam Mazzola, whose flavor-driven (as opposed to concept-driven) cooking approach resonated with him. Kapur worked in the Boulevard kitchen for eight years, eventually becoming Chef de Cuisine.

At Prospect, Kapur continues to collaborate with Mazzola and Oakes, creating a contemporary and accessible menu and atmosphere at this near year old restaurant. But Kapur has made his own mark putting this SOMA restaurant well and truly on the culinary map.

Prospect also boasts an impressive bar program with the talented Brooke Arthur at the helm. Try dinner with a cocktail pairing – yes please and sit at the best seat in the house, the bar.

A terribly fresh and tasty chilled asparagus salad was on the menu for our recent Foodie Chap taping.

5 Tasty Questions with Chef Ravi Kapur

1. How would you define your cuisine here at Prospect?
I think we are defining our cuisine everyday. It’s defining itself. We aren’t really working in a very strong context of what our cuisine is, which I think is a blessing. We’re driven by the season. We buy local, organic, sustainable things, but I feel like those are all prerequisites.

2. It’s midnight and you want a snack, what’s the one thing that’s always in your fridge at home?
The one thing that’s always in my fridge is Sriracha. I dont have a lot of food in my fridge, I’m never home, I never cook. That’s all going to change soon, I think, when the baby comes, but for now if I’m starving, unfortunately, it’s popcorn, Sriracha, and a Racer 5.

3. What is your secret pleasure outside of the kitchen?
My secret pleasure, is not so secret, but I like to go out and eat and drink. That’s basically what I do; I cook, I eat, I drink. It’s pretty simple.

4. What’s the music pumping when you are cooking?
We don’t play music in the kitchen too regulary, except on Saturdays, and when that day comes it’s always Reggae. I’m from Hawaii, I grew up listening to Hawaiian music, Island Music, so that’s just kind of a natural thing for me.

5. It’s your last supper, you can have a couple of guests, dead or alive, who will they be?
It would be pretty simple. It would be my grandparents on my mothers side, they both passed away, and on my fathers side, my grandfather is still alive, but my grandmother is not and my immediate family. When I was younger, I didn’t have too much time to spend with them, and I would love to get some touchstones from the past, and let them see what’s happened to this young boy from Hawaii that just couldn’t get out of the water from surfing.

Chilled Colossal Asparagus Salad

With Early Strawberries, Fava Puree, Andante Dairy Goat Cheese and Crushed Walnuts

Serves 6

18 stalks Colossal asparagus (or other large variety)
1 c walnuts, toasted and chopped fine
1 c fava beans
½ c water
½ c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small wheel Andante Dairy fresh Goat Cheese-comes in a wheel or marinated in olive oil and pink peppercorns [another good quality young goat cheese may be substituted]
1 basket market strawberries, husked, cored and quartered
coarse ground/crushed black pepper
Maldon Sea Salt
1 stalk purple or green asparagus, shaved into ribbons on mandoline, for garnish
greens, for garnish (chef’s recommendation is chervil, frilly red mustard, or chickweed)

Peel asparagus stems and trim from the base where they become tender. Steam for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat, and shock in an ice bath.

Marinate the strawberries by placing them in a bowl with the verjus and black pepper, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the fava bean puree, shell the beans, and heat a pot of water to boiling. Blanch the beans briefly (about 1 minute, when the bean is tender); drain and cool in ice water. Peel the beans. Place beans and water in the blender. Blend until smooth and stream in olive oil slowly and emulsify. Add salt to taste.

To Plate:
Place a smear of fava puree on the plate. Top with asparagus stalks. Sprinkle with goat cheese and top with walnuts. Add strawberries to the plate. Garnish with greens and asparagus ribbons.

(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.)