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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 9:27 am | Fair 59º


Laurie Jervis: Santa Ynez Valley Chefs Showcase Traditional Jewish Celebratory Foods

Pico’s Drew Terp and K’Syrah’s Brooke Stockwell team up with winemakers to showcase Hanukkah-inspired menus over 8-night event

Traditional meals with a modern twist will be the focus of a celebration coinciding with the eight days of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, or Chanukah.

The lead chefs at two North County restaurants, Pico at the Los Alamos General Store and K’Syrah Catering & Events in Solvang, will oversee menus for what each called an inspiring foodie event.

So far, four Santa Barbara County winemakers had committed to collaborate with the chefs to pair their wines with the respective menus: Sandy Newman of Cebada Wine/Forbidden Fruit Orchards, Mike Roth of Lo-Fi Wines, Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines and Ofer Shepher of Spear Winery.

The winemakers will pour their wines on various evenings, said publicist Anna Ferguson Sparks of Stiletto Marketing. She hopes to confirm additional winemakers leading up to the start of the event, on Tuesday.

Billed as “Eight Days: An Edible Hanukkah Collaboration,” the evening meals begin Tuesday, Dec. 12, and will continue through Dec. 19.

The first six meals will be offered at Pico at the Los Alamos General Store, at 458 Bell St. in Los Alamos, where Drew Terp is chef/co-owner, and the following two events will be held at K’Syrah Catering & Events, at 478 Fourth Place in Solvang, where Brooke Stockwell is the executive chef.

The eight days will culminate with the final candle night of Hanukkah on Dec. 19 with an eight-course, seated dinner with wine pairings at K’Syrah.

I emailed questions to Schaffer and Stockwell, and spoke with Terp about ingredients, meals and wine for the celebration.

Stockwell, who grew up in and still resides in Lompoc, has worked in Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Morro Bay.

She got her start as a private chef at age 19 while still in culinary school in Santa Barbara. In Vegas, she worked for celebrity chef Rick Moonen and, once back on the Central Coast, she was the executive chef of the Inn at Morro Bay.

I asked Stockwell to share her childhood memories of Hanukkah — in particular, any favorite dishes.

Lompoc native Brooke Stockwell is executive chef of K’Syrah Catering & Events in Solvang. Click to view larger
Lompoc native Brooke Stockwell is executive chef of K’Syrah Catering & Events in Solvang. (Britney Matson photo )

“Growing up, Hanukkah was about celebrating one of the nights at my grandma’s house each year with a feast of latkes!” she recalled. “All of my aunts, uncles and cousins would be there along with lots of friends.

“We would always invite our non-Jewish friends over to experience lighting the menorah, spinning the dreidel, grubbing on latkes and hearing us say the Hanukkah blessing in Hebrew. Every year my grandma would fix a pot roast as well as steamed broccoli to accompany our latkes, sour cream and apple sauce.”

Stockwell said she hopes the wines and recipes she and Terp will craft at K’Syrah and Pico will “work in synergy to create a beautiful evening for folks to come celebrate the Festival of Lights, aka Hanukkah, in a rad foodie environment!”

For his part, Terp “loves being pushed past what feels comfortable,” flavor wise, he said.

Stockwell will utilize her family’s own latke recipe at K’Syrah.

“I’ve had lots of latkes in my life, and my family’s recipe is by far the standout latke of my life,” she said.

Stockwell believes that the Edible Hanukkah Collaboration will be “a modern take on Jewish food,” or more of a “foodie event” than a traditional one, and “is excited to showcase traditional Jewish foods in a modern way.”

Ferguson-Sparks shared Stockwell’s menu courses for Dec. 19, the eighth night: potato latke, smoked salmon, black pepper, salmon chicharrónes, crème fraîche and chive oil; roasted beet salad with honey vinaigrette, goat cheese crouton; fritto misto (zucchini, winter squash, apple, fennel, with sage brown butter emulsion); savory kugel (kale, cipollini, gruyere, challah breadcrumbs); parsnip latke, grilled quail, pomegranate, with charoset; braised brisket, fermented apple sauce, grilled root vegetables, smoked sunchoke cream and crispy taro root; olive oil cake, cherry soup, bay leaf chantilly lace; and finally, apple beignet, dulce de leche and sour cream ice milk.

Drew Terp is co-owner and chef at Pico at the Los Alamos General Store. Click to view larger
Drew Terp is co-owner and chef at Pico at the Los Alamos General Store. (Daniel Fulton photo)

Schaffer, who will pour his Tercero wines during the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, said his memories of Chanukah center around family.

“It was really a wonderful gathering of my parents, my brothers and other relatives who lived nearby,” he said.

The Solvang resident has four brothers, and described the holiday as “one of the occasions I could look forward to all of us being together.”

I asked both Schaffer and Stockwell if either had knowledge of a similar food event in the past, and neither had.

“I think (the concept) is an interesting one, for sure,” Schaffer noted. “I’m hopeful that along with the pairing, a bit of insight may be given as to why specific foods are eaten during this time, for perspective.”

I asked Schaffer for a snapshot of the holiday. He didn’t disappoint.

“First and foremost, Chanukah is a celebration of life — and that should be the first and foremost lesson taken away,” he wrote. “It is a time for family and friends to get together to cherish one another and life, and give thanks for all that we have.”

He described the traditional foods as “symbolic in nature, and each course represents a part of the Chanukah story.”

Pico’s Terp comes to Los Alamos with a broad background as chef or manager in kitchens ranging from Napa (Auberge du Soleil) to New York City (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Masa and barMASA) to Spain (under Chef Pedro Subijana at Akelarfe).

Terp opened, and served as executive chef for Las Vegas restaurants barMASA and Shaboo, and worked under José Andrés at Jaleo, in Washington, D.C. His formative years were spent in both Upstate New York and Alabama, and time in Spain included learning the art of charcuterie under the tutelage of the family-run company, Fermin.

When we spoke Nov. 30, the menus were still in his head and not yet on paper. Terp told me how he will opt for flavors “that go with broad strokes of wine. I will create seasonings and flavors, and make adjustments” as he meets with the winemakers joining him on Pico’s six-day run.

“Savory food is my forte, and my menus lean that way,” he said, noting that Syrah is an ideal wine for pairing with food that “can lean either way” on the spiciness or heat spectrum. An example would be smoked meat for a heavier flavor or meat shaved thin for a lighter tough.

“(The entire event) will be really fun and unique and classy for the holidays,” he said. “It will be inspiring — and that’s my job: To inspire people for the holidays.”

Winemakers who are scheduled to pour on Dec. 19 will also pour at Pico on select nights (Dec. 12-17). All evenings at Pico will also feature dinners from the regular menu. Table reservations are recommended, but not required.

During each night of the six-day stretch at Pico, Terp will “release” a new Hanukkah-themed dish on a special menu, with each dish hinting at the courses featured during the final night’s seated, eight-course dinner at K’Syrah.

Diners at Pico will be able to view all six nights’ special dishes, but only will be able to order the dishes as they are “lit:” Dish One will be available on the first night and all subsequent nights; by the third night, guests will be able to order Dish One, Two or Three, Ferguson Sparks said.

The Dec. 18 event will feature eight different Hanukkah-inspired plates in a passed hors d’oeuvres format. A cash bar will offer a full bar and craft cocktails utilizing ingredients traditional to Jewish celebrations.

Tickets for the food portion of the evening are $25 per person if purchased through Dec. 13 and $30 afterward or at the door. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Tickets for the Dec. 19 finale event are $85 per person with an optional wine pairing for an additional $40 per person (total $125). Click here to purchase tickets online. Seating for this night is limited, and advance tickets are required.

For additional information, email [email protected] or call 877.327.2656.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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