[MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] KIM ALTER: Thank you for coming. I’m super excited to be here. This is my first
time on the campus. And I always ask
my friends who work here, cause I’m probably a dork,
and I watch “The Internship,” and things like that. And I get all excited
about being here. So thank you for having me. When they asked me to come
and talk about vegetables, that’s really easy for me,
because I worked on a farm. I worked in places
like Ubuntu and Manresa where it just changes
your mind about vegetables when you actually
plant something, and you see how long
it takes to grow, and how much care goes into it. How can you make that
interesting for somebody who thinks of vegetarian
food maybe as like portabello mushrooms and balsamic? So I use a lot of
Asian ingredients to kind of bring umami to
things and kind of change the idea of it. And do you want me to go
straight into the demo? All right. So I’ll try to give ideas
as to how we could also make this at home a little
bit easier than maybe what I’m doing here, which
I kind of already did. But we can make it easier. So this is kind of a tomato
salad that we actually did. We do themed menus at Nightbird. So every two weeks I change it. And I did a Hey Ladies menu. So everything was
sourced from women, whether it was a
vegetable, a wine, a soy, the music we listened to. So everything on the
menu came from women. And this salad in particular
came from Tenbrink Farms, which is Linda, who is amazing. Her tomatoes blow my mind. And we really just wanted
the tomato to shine. So by just adding
things like finger limes to bring acidity, and soy and
tomato dashi to highlight, instead of just
throwing salt on it, it really just made
the vegetables kind of get interesting, and
not just be a tomato salad. So I’m just going to reference
my notes occasionally. But this could get a
little complicated. But for the most part, it’s not. We’re going to make
a tomato dashi, which is tomato water and kombu. Sometimes when you go
to the farmer’s market you get too much stuff, right? Like maybe your tomatoes
start going bad. And you don’t want to
throw them away, right. So I found that making tomato
water, which is super easy, is a great way to either
have like a palette cleanser, a cold soup. Put it into a
cocktail with vodka and you have a
clarified Bloody Mary. I mean, you can do so
many different things with something you would
normally throw away. So let’s pretend that these
tomatoes aren’t the best tomatoes in the whole world. They’re very lovely. But all you need to
do is blend them. I’ve never used
this blender before. Let’s see. Basically just blend
them till they’re water. And this is tomato water. So you just put it through– you can use a
napkin, a towel you have at home that’s maybe
thinner that you would use like at a dinner party. Or cheesecloth, which you can
buy at Rainbow, Whole Foods, any of the places. And you basically just let it
drip 24 hours, set it aside, and, through the magic of
Google, you have tomato water. And it’s basically just
the essence of tomato. Right now we have a tomato
salad for the first course. And we do reflection courses. So the first course
is a tomato salad, and I didn’t want to
throw away anything. So we follow it with
a palate cleanser of tomato water with olive oil. Another kind of light,
refreshing thing you can do. To make a dashi,
dashi is basically a light broth that is seasoned
with kombu and sometimes bonito. But we’re going to do
a vegetarian style. And it’s just filtered
water, the tomato water. AUDIENCE: Chef, for those
not familiar with kombu. KIM ALTER: So
kombu is a seaweed. We use a lot of seaweeds
in our preparation. On this salad in particular
we cured fish on it to kind of tie-in
the tomato water. I like to use seasonings,
and it’s not just salt. So I’ll use soy so
it’s not as aggressive. Or I’ll use shio
koji, or like a kombu, and it just adds in flavor to
what is normally just water. And when you’re making something
like a dashi, or a soup, or like a miso broth,
most of those things are started with
dashis or kombus. Pardon my mess. And you basically
just let it kick it. And then in the
end you get dashi. I normally say seaweed,
when it starts to boil, can make any of your
liquids turn bitter. So we never want it
to come to a boil. You almost never want really
anything to come to a boil, at least in my
kitchen, unless you’re boiling water for
something, like tomatoes, which we will do next. Just because by boiling
you’re creating friction. It creates cloudiness and
brought bitterness out of a lot of products that
normally wouldn’t be bitter. So I always just
let things kick it. I have French flattops
in every kitchen I’ve ever worked in actually. And everything’s always
going around the pilot. Because boiling just is, for the
most part, creating not things you want in your food. So the dashi just
kind of kicks it. You go over here and then
we’ll start plating things for a tomato salad. I like doing different
kinds of textures, and shapes, and sizes to
keep things interesting. So knife. And we’ll blanch some. Blanching is something that
you want to do really quickly, cause you don’t want a cooked
tomato like an Italian Sauce. You just want to blanch it quick
enough to take the skin off. If they’re small sometimes
I don’t make incisions. But sometimes to make
it a little bit easier, you can make a little bit
of an incision on the skin, cause the skin will come off. To make anything more
fine, you kind of would take the skins off. But for the most part, I just
count in my head 10 seconds. And then that’s
normally enough time to not affect the actual
flesh of the tomatoes, but just enough time to
kind of create the hot water from taking the skins off. And this isn’t too
hard to do at home. I have faith in
all of you that you would want to do this
and impress everybody. So while those are
kind of cooling, you want to make sure
they’re fully cooled, because then there’s going to
be a cooked, stewed tomato. And you really
want tomato salads I think to be fresh
and beautiful. AUDIENCE: So that’s ice water? KIM ALTER: Oui. Sorry. Ice water. Ice is going to
obviously stop it from cooking faster
than if you just like ran it under
cold water, or put it in a pot with cold water. You’re really highlighting the
loveliness of the tomatoes. So I like to cut things
in different shapes so it looks like
it’s growing out of a plate, or something
for another tomato to kind of sit on
and give height. I use a lot of different
colored tomatoes. I worked in Manresa
and Love Apple Farms. She grows like 380
different types of tomatoes. And I’m growing a bunch
in my yard right now. Not as lovely as hers. But really just you eat
with your eyes, right, before you eat with anything. So you got to impress
people nowadays. So lots of colors
and brightness. So you have tomatoes cut. You have your tomato water
and dashi kind of happening. Are we all excited to
do this at home later? [LAUGHS] Luckily, the team here already
kind of prepped everything, because my staff hates
peeling and getting things, cause it takes up
a lot of time when you don’t have a lot of time
when full service is happening. But as you can see with my
hands, it’s just really easy. It was like a quick,
5, 10 second blanch. And the tomatoes are pulled off. So then you’re not
getting sometimes the skins stuck in your teeth. So it’s a little
bit more refined. And then at the restaurant,
we don’t throw anything away. So we take the tomato skins. We dehydrate them. And then we turn
them into a powder to put back in
something on the plate. So, again, my stuff loves that. I brought a couple things
with me that we make. So I say I use a lot
of Asian ingredients. When I’m doing stuff
with vegetables, I love pulling
from that culture. And something like
kumquat kosho. I think most people are
familiar with yuzu kosho, which is yuzu leaves, and
jalapenos and salt that are kind of fermented
and then turned into a paste. So I thought it would
be fun to kumquats, cause one of my farmers
had an abundance this year. And we just chopped them
up, took out the seeds, threw salt and jalapenos on
it, and just let it ferment. And now it’s like this
citrus pepper condiment that just really brings life to the
vegetables and the tomatoes, and some brightness and
acidity that you need. You can buy that. Actually there’s a place. I think it’s called The
Cultured Pickle in Berkeley. And he actually makes a
kumquat kosho that’s delicious. Whole Foods. Rainbow. All those places you
can find yuzu kosho. In any like Ranch
99 I have definitely bought yuzu kosho
that’s like in a paste. And if you just put a little
bit on the bottom of even like a steak, or like on
the bottom of a tomato, it just brings a
different level of flavor, which is all you’re
trying to do so you have different notes
hitting your palate so you’re excited
when you’re eating. Or for me. I like to be excited. These are finger limes,
which probably are a little bit harder to find. So you can easily supplement
by getting limes and just chopping up the segments to
give little pops of acidity and whatnot. They’re originally
from, I believe, what? New Zealand. And a couple farmers
started growing them here. They definitely don’t look
like the ones from New Zealand. They’re really bright
pink and lovely. Afterwards if you want to come
up and try them on their own, they’re just little
tapioca pearls, kind of almost like caviar of acid. And they just bring little pops
to kind of surprise your palate while you’re eating. I also like using, as in using
kombu, agrettian sea beans, which one of my farmers,
Marin Roots, I think– I don’t know if they’re at
the Palo Alto Farm ever. But they’re always at the
ferry building on Saturdays and the marine
market on Thursdays. They have a lot of swamp,
and they can grow agretti. Which is like salty,
earthy, just brightness. Sea beans, like at Haven
right in Jack London Square, they used to grow out there. I would not use them. But they grow in
those kind of areas where you can just have
a salty brightness that’s not kosher or fleur de sel. And they’re lovely. I also like using
stuff like togaroshi, and other kind of peppers,
and sancho to kind of give it a little bit of heat. So we just got a little
togaroshi and some fleur de sel, and ground it
up that we’ll sprinkle on top of the tomatoes. This might be taking it too far
if you want to do it at home. But K&J Farms, which is
one of my favorite farms– she grows a lot of
great stone fruit. She goes kaffir limes,
which are bright, and green, and beautiful. And they’re great just
microplaned like on a salad. But I like to burn them. So I throw them in the
oven for about six hours at 500 degrees until the
point where they become a charcoal for the most part. But there’s so much
essential oils in the skins that it still smells and
tastes like kaffir lime, which I’m sure all of
you have had kaffir lime before at some point. I brought a fresh
one somewhere so that you can see the difference. And it’s crazy to
me that this was burned for five to six hours and
it still has the essence of it. And it just brings
it down a notch. But it still has that
subtle like, what is that? Oh, that’s kaffir lime. I love the thought of people
being like, what is that? And just thinking constantly. So we burn that out. We made the salt.
We made the kosho. Tomato water. Let’s just pretend this
dashi is done and beautiful. We’re doing it vegetarian style. So instead of
seasoning with salt, I like to season with soys. Normally it’s a shiro soy,
because it’s like a clear. But if you don’t have shiro
soy at your house or shio koji, a regular tamari or
soy sauce will do. It’ll just adjust the
color a little bit. And this will make it so
it’s not just a hit you in your face, like,
uh, that’s salt. It’ll just be like, oh,
that’s a lovely little water. Tasting everything
along the way too. I make my cooks
taste all day long. Like from the point where
it’s almost inedible so they understand where it’s at, to
an hour later to being like, OK, that’s where
it’s at in an hour. Here’s where it’s at two hours. And so they’re constantly
understanding the process of seasoning, and
cooking, and opening their minds to what it’s
supposed to be, in my eyes. So the tomato water is
seasoned and beautiful. We have the blanched tomatoes. Do you want me to
plate on a plate? May I just take this one? AUDIENCE: Yeah. KIM ALTER: You can kind
of do whatever you want. My go to vinegar
is always Banyuls, because I think it’s not
as sweet as balsamic. It’s not as acidic as Sherry. It’s a little bit more refined. I never use something
like white vinegar. Only to clean things. Personal preference. But fresh citrus is
always a go to for me. So I thought, let’s
sub it with lemon. So you’re getting a
lemon dress salad. My hands are clean. But we’ll just go like this. You’re not going to actually
eat this vinaigrette. You don’t want seeds. So just some straight
up lemon juice, salt, like right in the beginning. Something that I do
in the next salad, I like to crush
garlic, and just let it sit in the actual
vinegar and oil so it infuses maybe
some garlic flavor, but it’s not going to
hit you in the face. It’s all about, I think,
subtleness with me. So you could do
something like that. Editing and doing what you
want with the recipe I think is why recipes are there. Following a recipe,
and myself included, it’s never going to come out, I
think, how the person intended. So just throw your own. Add more salt. Add
some lemon zest. Change it up and use– I normally use shiro soy. But we’re using tamari today. That’s how you get
creative and start thinking about different ways to cook. And so recipes are
always like a base. That’s why my recipes
probably weren’t the best for these lovely people
who were figuring them out. They were a little weird. So we have a little bit of
lemon juice, a whisk, a fork. You can make it kind of
a broken vinaigrette. I always like to use olive
oil when I’m making a salad, just because sometimes
extra virgin gets a little bit too bitter. So since we already
have bitterness from the kumquat, and
peppers, and things like that, I’ll just use a
straight up olive oil. I use a 90/10 from
[? Scabika, ?] which is a farm in Marin. So we barely made any here. Oh, you know what I
didn’t talk about? The sesame. This one you’re going
to have to do at home. But you need a Teflon pan. Do you have one? AUDIENCE: I don’t. KIM ALTER: Then we’ll fake it. So there is a pan de tuile,
which is basically a bread tuile that you make in a pan. We have time, right? AUDIENCE: Yeah. KIM ALTER: And I think most
people have Teflon at home, because it makes it
so you don’t have to clean them as much, right? So everyone has a
Teflon even if you’re using it for a purpose
that’s not for Teflon. A pan de tuile is
basically something that makes this salad
look very beautiful. I’ll show you on my Instagram
what the salad normally looks like, just so you can
see, since it’s probably not going to look the same. But basically a pan de
tuile is really easy. This is just sesame paste,
oil, flour, and water. I’ve done this
without sesame paste. I’m going to do something sweet
and just do flour, water, oil, and salt. And then you can add
like a dehydrated strawberry. And you have a
pretty tuile that’s going to be on top of a
dessert, like a creme brulee that you made at home. I’ve put it on a lobster
salad without sesame paste. And it’s just brown. And then we sprinkle a
different kind of powder on it. So it’s a different color. You just basically want
to get this ripping hot. And the heat is going to
evaporate the water, which will make holes in the
tuile, which they have some examples in case this
doesn’t work out perfectly for me right now. But while that is getting
hot, I will plate this salad. I always like to season with
a little bit of kosher salt, even though we’re going to
put on fleur de sel as well. And then tasting throughout
the whole process obviously. I’m not going to eat with
a microphone on, though. So we’ll pretend
that I did taste. And then plating is
always up to you. Put your own style on it. I always like to think
of food as something like a mountain or
a desert, and things are growing out of other– this is a little slippery plate. So it might not be it. But you always want height. If everything was flat, which
is what’s happening right now, it could be a little bit boring. So this definitely looks
a little bit different than I would normally
do at the restaurant. But I think that
you’ll get the idea when I show you my Instagram. So you’re kind of
building a salad. And then all of the components
that we talked about. I like to just kind of
put little pluches almost of like the finger
limes everywhere, just so you get little
hits of acidity. And then this is pretty spicy. So not like a ton. So not every single bite will
coat your palate with pepper. And then have like
sea beans growing out of the ground a little bit. This might be hot enough. You basically want it smoking. But I don’t know if you can see. But the water
automatically evaporates. And the holes start. Which is what gives the
cool kind of effect. And really my mom can do it. So that means that
you guys could. AUDIENCE: How did you
make the paste, again? KIM ALTER: So I have the
recipe I’m happy to give you. But it’s just water, oil,
salt, and a little bit of sesame paste. And you just shake it up. And you really want
the pan super hot. But it just starts to
create little holes. I made a bunch earlier today. So you will see a better
representation of it. Microplane is definitely
one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, because
you can zest anything. Herbs, or like
nutmeg, the kaffir, lemon zest, just to
give it some brightness. And I just like to go a little
bit over with the charcoal. That’s one of my favorites. And then kind of
garnish with salt. Eh, not my best one. But I’ll steal one of those
if there’s going to be any– I might be forgetting something,
but for the most part it’s– oh, tomato water. We make a gel at the restaurant
to give different textures. But you can just pour a little
bit of the tomato water. And it’ll be like a
nice bright salad. So kind of. It’s kind of like this. All right. On to the next. Thank you. AUDIENCE: So chef, I was
looking and listening to all the ingredients you have here. And as our program is– KIM ALTER: I swear
it’s not overwhelming. AUDIENCE: Well, what’s
really interesting is there’s a lot of parallels. And Chef Marty can
probably contest. We have a huge focus
on getting users to enjoy eating more
plants and vegetables. And when you have something
as beautiful as this, and as complex as this,
I guess the question is, what is your philosophy
on having fruit and vegetables really be at the forefront? You’ve got so many
interesting aspects here. It’s very intentional. You’ve got a lot of
flavor, depth of flavor, textures, colors. Has this been something that
you’ve always focused on? Has it evolved over time? KIM ALTER: You know, I
think my mind changed when I worked at Manresa, for sure. Working with such amazing
people, like Marty, [? Kinch, ?]
Jeremy, James, who I think was here a few
weeks ago doing this, it just changes your mind. And then physically
working on a farm. And it’s such hard work,
and planting things, you really just want
the vegetables to shine. And working for
Daniel Patterson, obviously, like he’s
very vegetable focused. And there’s a lot of
different reasons behind that. I think a lot of
it is food cost, and just really letting
California shine. Like I moved to Chicago. I lasted one winter and
then came right back. But the reason why
I came back was because I couldn’t
understand not going to the market every day. I couldn’t wrap my head around
manipulating like an apple, and then deconstructing it,
and then turning it back into an apple. Like that’s rad. And I respect that so much. But for me, I’m
not on the length of like Alice Waters, where
it’s like figs on a plate. But I’m somewhere in between. I really just want the tomatoes
to be amazing, and then have highlights of whether
it’s an Asian ingredient or a succulent to make that
vegetable kind of shine forward. AUDIENCE: That’s great. KIM ALTER: So I think
it’s definitely grown. Chef Marty influenced me a ton. I mean, just blew my mind
when we were working together. I heart him the most. So on to the next. Tofu. So one of my first ever dinners,
I was paired with Hoto– which Ming Tsai is the owner. And it was his first
dinner ever as a farmer. And I got to go on the first
tour to see how it was made. And growing up in
a very hippie town, we would get tofu mushroom
burgers, all a little tipsy after going to parties. And then I thought
it was amazing. And then I tried his tofu,
and I was like what have I been eating my whole life? Like what is this
disgusting stuff in water that you get at Safeway? His tofu, there’s so much
fat and protein, and so much deliciousness in it, like
the soy milk you can drink, and you can create so
many different products from this that you just
start thinking, how can I make this, not like meat, but
how can tofu be the forefront? How can we make something that
people think is gross really– most people aren’t
tofu and tempeh fans– into, wow, I want
to go eat some tofu? So I love curing things in
miso, whether it’s a vegetable, curing carrots in miso,
or curing tofu in miso. It really adds a different
flavor and texture to something. And I’m actually
working with Min about hopefully producing
something on a bigger level that someone could
buy at home so they don’t have to sit there, and
get all dirty, and wait for it. I have some miso that I’ve
been curing for six months to see what happens. I have a lot of weird
experiments in my refrigerator at home, because we don’t have a
lot of space at the restaurant. I have some cream
that I think has been aging for about two years now. My partner hates it. [LAUGHS] But for miso, I think
the longer that you let it go, the more moisture
is getting sucked out, because it’s salty, and
it’s all these things. So this has only
been a couple days. And then we’re going to sear it. So this was a play on gribiche. Which I love gribiche. And how can we let a
vegan or a vegetarian enjoy something that I
get to enjoy on a day to day, because I eat like
four boiled eggs a day. So working at
Ubuntu and Manresa, we used to do a lot
of gribiche I think. And this was my
kind of play on it. So to make the gribiche, you
can either do just regular tofu, or the miso cured tofu,
and kind of cut it up, almost emulating an egg. And you can either use
a knife, or if you want, use a microplane if you wanted
a little bit more kind of soft. I like the texture
of the knife cut of something like a brunoise. So I will cut them like an onion
dice or something like that. Sorry. I’ve only had coffee today. I’m really shaky. I just don’t want
to cut my finger. Cut it into any shape you
want as big as you’d like. And then I like to use
fermented black beans a lot. You can get a container
of fermented black beans that will probably be OK for
your whole life at Chinatown for like $2.99. I like I think the
Yang Jiang brand that you can get on Amazon. And they do a flavored
one with ginger. But I just like the
straight up fermented beans. I just think it’s a really good
substitute for, in this case, the anchovies, or just bringing
some umami to the plate that you normally wouldn’t
have from just salt. Definitely I don’t know
if you guys ever had from eating them before,
kind of get a good grip as to where the salt
level is, because it can get overpowering. And it has, I don’t even
know how to explain it, almost like miso kind of umami. I’ve used that word
like four times already, but it’s just got a
really rich flavor that’s going to bring some
depth to a salad that could be maybe boring. We have a couple different
components going on. I’m just going to take this. Add a little bit of oil. And then I put chives
kind of in everything. I’m that person who eats onions. And I think it stems from
when I was working in really strict four-star kitchens. And you had to have perfect
cuts of leeks and onions. I didn’t want the
chef to ever see. So I’d eat them when they
weren’t the perfect cut. And so now I just see myself
eating chives and onions for no reason. Now that I’m the
chef, I still do it. But I kind of put in shallots,
onions, and all those things, and everything. So a little bit of chives. You can just like
even tear parsley if you don’t want to cut it. Or skip that if you don’t want
to buy a whole bunch so it doesn’t go bad in your fridge. I like to put, like I
said, kind of shallots and garlic in everything. And you can either cut
them really small, or just bigger like me, since I
like to eat them like that. And then you can kind
of put it to the side. You normally don’t need
to add too much salt, because the fermented bean
is going to be your salt. But tasting, like I said, will
always be a way you can tell. With the tofu being
cured in miso, that’s adding a lot of flavor. So you don’t need
to add too much. Searing it, the miso
definitely can stick. So using actually
your Teflon pan is probably a better
way to go than what I’m about to do right
now, because it’s going to stick and
burn, and maybe smoke out this whole place. So we might pretend
a little bit. But basically, you kind of
can wipe off some of the miso. And you can reuse the miso too. Like I’m a big fan of
thinking that there’s flavor that has created into that. A good amount of oil. And it’s probably
not hot enough. So, again, we’re pretending. And we can just let it sit
there and start to caramelize. You want to get a
little bit of a brown. If you get it a little
black, that’s no problem. I like trying things a lot. I mean, you don’t want
to think cancer black, but like char
black, where it just gives a little bit of flavors. Lovely. This might be a little
bit much at your house. But I love yuba. So yuba is kind of
in the same lines. We used to do it with milk. And then also soy milk. And a kin forms on the top. And if you ever get an
opportunity to go to a tofu– I don’t want to say farm– a center where they
make it, it’s just like a swimming pool of soy milk
with these wood kind of planks, and then people just pulling
up the skins, literally the skins that have
formed from the air. And then they just drain. I feel that hotos are the best. The ones that we make
at the restaurant don’t hold up to frying. I mean, this is insane. And that’s because
of all the protein that they have in theirs. So we make as much as we
can in the restaurant. We make our own butter. Everything gets made
in the restaurant. But I will not make
my own of these, because I think
that they’re good. And we use them. We’re a tasting menu
restaurant in a city that has a ton of restaurants. And so we try to
be as accommodating as we can to everybody. So if someone’s a
vegan, gluten free. Someone came in with the
Whole30 diet the other day. And I was like, what that? And I’m like googling like
what these things are. But we want to make
everyone feel welcome. So we have a lot of
things to supplement. I always am thinking
when I’m doing a menu, will a vegan like this? What can I do? So we always kind of have yuba
as a possible gluten supplement if we’re doing like a pasta,
or a supplement for meat if it’s a vegan, and it’s
not the entree course. So I recently have been
told I shouldn’t eat gluten and sugar, which really sucks. And when my staff makes
pasta, which they try not to so I don’t feel bad, they’ll
make me some with yuba. And it’s a great supplement. Just throw it in the water. If you guys have ever
been to State Bird, it’s one of their signatures. Just some yuba in a pan. Toss it in some garlic and oil. It’s amazing. Yeah. We’re faking this. So at the restaurant
we’ll fry it. I’m just going to put
it in there with it and see if anything happens. And we fried it a
little bit ahead of time to kind of have a crispiness. So you have a couple
of different textures. So you’re going to
have the raw tofu as a gribiche, a seared
tofu to have the more earthy carmelization
flavor, and then the fried yuba as crunchiness. Having no texture in something
I think gets people bored. It’s kind of along the same
lines of not having acidity and brightness in chili. So having different textures
gets you interested, especially if it’s
something like a tofu salad. So while that’s frying,
we can kind of mix greens. I personally love chickpeas on
this, because they’re bright and they hold up to what
will be the vinaigrette. If you want to do this
with arugula, spinach, or anything, like I
said earlier, making it your own makes it yours. So on this one we
have chickarees. To make the
vinaigrette, it’s kind of like a play on a Caesar
salad, which is not vegan. But you can. I’ve done this dressing
with a soft tofu in supplement of the egg. So when you’re
making a Caesar, you want a nice ribbon
on your egg yolks. And we use a Robot
Coupe sometimes. But when we’re feeling old
school, we’ll do it by hand. I have a way tougher
right arm than a left arm. And then once you get it to a
nice ribbon, you add the acids, which, for me, are a lot–
and this I’m actually going to reference my recipe– I use red wine vinaigrette, rice
wine vinaigrette, or vinegar. Dijon mustard kind of
also holds and makes the vinaigrette stable so
it kind of stays emulsified, and it isn’t like a gross,
broken egg vinaigrette. I put miso in it to kind
of just really bring home the fact that I love
using Asian ingredients. And some soy and Parmesan. And we’ll microplane
some garlic up in there. Sorry. Like I was saying
earlier with the garlic, to add a little bit of heat
without making it insane, throw in some chili, just
like a couple pieces. And while you’re whisking
everything together, it’ll infuse that chili flavor
without killing your palate. I am a baby with spice. I can’t really take a lot. It could be the 20 years
of cooking, and drinking, and I don’t know. Too much coffee. So I go really light
on anything spicy. And, again, this is something
that at the acidity level that you like, the
dressing that you like, you can add as much oil or as
little to make it your own. Maybe I don’t understand how
your guys’ flat tops work. AUDIENCE: Jared’s on it. KIM ALTER: Oh. We’ll fake it. Or you can fix it. You can kind of see. I don’t know if you
guys can see this. By slowly adding a
little bit of oil, you’re just creating
an emulsification, which is how you make like
a non-broken vinaigrette. Constantly whisking. It’s how you make
an aeoli, anything. And then just a
slow stream of oil brings it all together,
which I’m not going to lie. At my house I normally just
throw a tortilla on a stove and put a little
bit of butter on it. And that’s what I eat. But when I’m feeling
fancy, I’ll do something like this, which is rare. But it happens. I think that’s an extra virgin. You can already
taste the bitterness in it, which is fine. Could I just have a
plate to plate the salad, if you don’t mind? When I’m dressing a salad
I never really put it directly on the greens. I kind of always put it like
around so you’re not just drenching the greens. It can pick up the
dressing along the side. And then season the
lettuce as well. I’m not a big pepper person. I normally don’t
put it on a lot. But on this salad, I
think it’s pretty nice. Sorry. Tasting. Pardon my eating. So gribiche is normally
like creamy sauces at the bottom of the plate. So we’ll put it on the bottom. I just did something
actually for bon appetite. Very similar. Except we added asparagus. So we just roasted some
asparagus, a fried egg, and had the tofu gribiche on
the bottom, roasted asparagus, a bunch of like beautiful
greens and flowers. And it looked really nice. And then yeah. Just a little bit of height. And then seared
tofu and fried tofu. Sorry it’s not searing. Once you sear it and you
get it beautifully brown, just some slices. And you can kind
of intermittently put it in your salad so
you get little surprises. And then fried tofu
chip kind of on top. And then if you want to be
fancy, a little bit around. And super easy tofu salad that
has some meat to it I think. OK. AUDIENCE: Now you get to
take a break for a second. [LAUGHS] KIM ALTER: Sorry I
talk fast and a lot. [LAUGHS] SPEAKER 2: So we have a
few minutes for questions. I have a few that I’m
going to start off with. But this is always
our interactive. And we have chef for
another 10 or 15 minutes. So if there are
initial questions, raise your hand quickly. Otherwise I will start. Yes. AUDIENCE: Besides
tortilla and butter, what are some like
quick, if you’re tired, or you have half an hour. KIM ALTER: At my house? AUDIENCE: Yeah. Like what do you
make for yourself? AUDIENCE: What was the question? SPEAKER 2: Yeah. Repeat the question. KIM ALTER: So when
I’m at home and I just worked an 18 hour day, and I’m
like what do I want to cook? And it’s not a tortilla. Well, it’s normally
an ice cream bar. No. I was actually on a child
video where they’re like, cook something late night. And they took six chefs. And I’m like green beans. I love green beans. So it was just like seared
green beans, and chili flake. And I’ll just eat them. I like to eat with my hands. And I would just cook some
green beans real quick. Five minutes. Throw in some chili flakes. Squeeze some lemon. A little bit of salt. Done. I wouldn’t even clean the sides. And then, of course, like the
chefs from the video after me, it was Daniel Humm. And he made a peach
gazpacho with fois gras. [LAUGHTER] Charles Phan from Slanted Door
busted out his wok at his house and did a whole fried fish. And I’m looking like a real jerk
eating green beans in my ghetto kitchen. But I do things like that. Normally actually I always
have rice in my fridge. Rice and kimchi is kind of
my go to with everything. It’s what I eat on
my day off and when I’m at home to try to stay
healthier and satisfied. AUDIENCE: What is it
again with kimchi? KIM ALTER: Brown
rice and kimchi. Always. I cook for my dog. Well, I make– [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: He eats
better than anybody. KIM ALTER: My dog eats
better than anybody I know. His name’s Ralph. But we always have brown
rice and chicken for him. So I don’t take his food. But I mean, I always make
extra brown rice for myself and then have it there, because
we always have my dog’s food. But yeah. That’s what I cook. SPEAKER 2: Yes. AUDIENCE: What’s
your favorite thing that you’ve cooked in
one of your restaurants? KIM ALTER: That’s really hard. I know what I get pegged
to cook a lot of times. But for me, it’s normally
the simple thing. When I have guests
come to Nightbird, they still request
things that I used to cook at Haven,
which is I think normally frustrating for chefs. It’s funny. I change my menu
every two weeks. And I try not to
replicate anything. When I go out to eat, I get
the same thing every time, no matter where I’m at. If I’m at a Thai restaurant,
I order the same thing every time. We went to Blue Plate
the other night. I get the meat loaf
and the burgers. Or the meat loaf and
the mashed potatoes. And if it comes off
the menu, I’m pissed. But at my restaurant
I’m like, let’s change it after two weeks. So actually I’m really happy
with my menu right now. I’m doing kind of what
I call a crowd pleaser menu, which is like, I
really like our tomato salad. So I’m using Tenbrink
Farms tomatoes. And I made a burrata. So I got burrata. And I emulsified
it into a siphon, and made it aerated so
it’s a little bit more refined with lovage. Which I love lovage. It’s kind of like a
fruity celery almost in a pumpernickel crouton
with little baby cucumbers from Tucker Taylor. And it’s just bright. But it has a creaminess. But it doesn’t take
away from the tomatoes because it’s a spuma. So I think it’s definitely
one of my favorite dishes that we’re doing right now. AUDIENCE: I’m always
afraid to use that raw egg. How do you– is this always
safe to use a raw egg? Like can you use it
to make a [INAUDIBLE]?? KIM ALTER: For me,
I feel comfortable. I mean, I don’t put eggs in
refrigerators at my house. My farmers never have– I put them in a refrigerator
once it gets to the restaurant. But like at my house when I
get like a dozen eggs for me, they sit out on a counter,
because they never normally see refrigeration. And they’re perfectly fine. But I know where I’m
getting them from. I know what farm. I know when those
eggs were laid. And I know when I
shouldn’t use them. And if you ever don’t
know, put it in some water. And you can tell by
the floatiness of it if it’s gotten to the point
where you shouldn’t eat it. But I mean, eggs
pretty much stay good for a good amount of time. But normally I would say
get like a half a dozen so you go through
them in a week and you don’t have to worry about it. But, I mean, Caesar salad,
all those dressings, unless you’re buying
it from like a bottle in a store at a restaurant,
same difference. It’s just like an egg yolk,
Robot Couped, and oils emulsified into it. So it’s technically raw. But some people say that
it’s being cooked by the heat from like a blender. I mean, it all says– but
as long as you know where your eggs are– anything actually. As long as you know where
everything you’re eating is coming from, you
shouldn’t be worried. I have done pork tartar before. I called it tartaranosis, and
no one thought it was funny. And no one wanted to eat it. But I feel comfortable
eating it because I know what that pig’s name was. And I think California, we’re
really lucky to be in a place where the farmers care and are
at farmers markets every day. And I know you guys
are super busy. You can’t go to markets
every day like I can. If I had a job like yours
I probably wouldn’t either. But just going like on
a Sunday or something, and then that lasts
you for the week. I mean, you also have amazing
chefs cooking food for you here. But when you feel
like cooking at home. I think there’s a really
amazing farm not far from here. A farmer’s market not far from
here that a lot of my farmers go to. Or if you’re ever in the
city, the ferry building. And just ask them too. Like when was this picked? When did you kill these rabbits? And they’ll tell
you, cause they know. Cause they did it. SPEAKER 2: She
raises a good point. Just a show of hands– I’m not going to put
anyone on the spot– who here regularly shops
at farmer’s markets. So I think it’s a good
point the chef makes is to really get out there and
know where your products are coming from. I think the food industry,
for so many years, has hidden the story
behind the food. And I think what Chef
Kim is doing is actually celebrating that. So when you have time,
really get out there and see where those
local farmers are. AUDIENCE: So first of all,
I actually [INAUDIBLE] my roommate, [INAUDIBLE]. So those were [INAUDIBLE]. So I’m very interested
to learn more about kind of the process of
putting out a tasting menu. So [INAUDIBLE] So what actually
inspires you in this process? KIM ALTER: OK. My mom was just here yesterday. And so I did a menu for
my mom a few months ago, because she went blind. And through the grace of God a
year later a surgery happened. And she got transplants. And now she can see again. So when she was blind for
that year that I was aware of, I started making a
menu that I was hoping that she could appreciate. A lot of it touching
with your hands. A lot of things that were
just all whites or all brown. Because she could see blur. She couldn’t just see people. And then before the
restaurant opened she was able to see again. So the dessert was
all color and flowers. So I try to have a very personal
connection with each menu. But then also sometimes,
like my last menu, being a little
creatively drained, and dealing with a lot
of stuff with the city, it was like summer textures. So it was obviously things that
are at the farmer’s market that are really bright,
tomatoes and corn, and then trying to
put a technique on it. But I’m working on
a menu right now of like a lot of famous
chefs have died this year. So I’m doing a menu with
each course inspired by a different chef who’s
passed away that cohesively can kind of come together. I try to pull from pop– I did “A Christmas
Story” menu at Christmas. So I don’t know if you guys
have seen “A Christmas Story.” It’s my favorite. And my dog’s named Ralphy. But every course had something
to do with the movie. Or I’m doing a menu right
now built with a musician. Like each course is a different
song that he has written. So I try to do stuff
that interests me, that’s fun and a little kitschy,
but also has a cohesiveness to it. And it just depends on my
creative level at the time. I’m getting more sleep now. So it’s getting a
little more creative. AUDIENCE: Very cool. Thank you. KIM ALTER: Mhm. AUDIENCE: For someone who
didn’t go to culinary school, what would you recommend
as the most [INAUDIBLE] of learning about,
not necessarily how to make food
for everyday life, but things that are a little
bit more extraordinary? KIM ALTER: Technique. I mean, there are so
many cookbooks now. When I was starting off
cooking 20 years ago it was like “On Cooking,” and– AUDIENCE: There was eight. KIM ALTER: I know. But now it’s like– chefs are coming out with
cookbooks three years after being open. And so there’s so
much out there. Omnivore Cookbooks
in San Francisco. Cecilia is rad. It’s kind of like a Kitchen
Arts, which is in New York. Books that are inspiring to
me right now that you could take technique and
actually do them without having to buy
20 modern ingredients, I would say I really like
the Astrance Cookbook. I think it’s called– it’s a book for cooks. It’s a restaurant in
Paris that’s beautiful. I really like that. And, I mean, any
book, just I think the pictures inspire people. When they start reading
the recipes sometimes you just glaze over. I’m guessing sometimes
like when you’re reading code would be the same thing. So when you see these
bright, beautiful pictures, and then you went to
the farmer’s market and you see those same things,
I think that’s inspiring. So if you’re in
the city, I highly recommend going to
Omnivore Cookbooks. And she will find you whatever
it is you’re looking for. But I think that just
using your imagination and looking at the pictures
will make you push forward and create something, I think. But honestly, “On Cooking,”
it was my first cookbook that I got in culinary school. And it teaches you
a lot of technique, and how to do some
butchering things. So it at least
gives you the base so then you can move on
to the Alinea cookbook. I have a friend who was in tech,
and he got the Alinea cookbook. And he cooked his
way through it, and did every
single recipe, which is more than I can
say for myself, because that cookbook’s insane. AUDIENCE: When you have
traveled [INAUDIBLE] what would you say are your
top five favorite restaurants, like as a chef? Like this is [INAUDIBLE]? Don’t have to be
expensive, but [INAUDIBLE] KIM ALTER: I’ve traveled. I mean, I’ve been pretty ball
and chained to my restaurant. But I’ve been to Dubai,
Zurich, and Paris in the last few years. And actually outside of
Paris I was most entranced with La Grenouillere. And then I mean, at Astrance. In the city I go very
casual, and I love sushi. Japan is definitely
my next place. But I had an amazing
meal at Ju-Ni. I was just in Zurich, and
I’m actually hosting a chef at my restaurant. And his restaurant’s
called Jacob. And it was very much
like minded like me. And it’s random,
but like in Dubai going to Toro was delicious
and very eye opening. Because I can’t remember all
of the names of the places I went and ate lamb brains. But those would be
some of the restaurants in the last few years I’ve
gone that were inspiring to me. SPEAKER 2: Excellent. Well, let’s give a huge round
of applause for Chef Kim. [APPLAUSE] KIM ALTER: Thank you.