Taking a break from your regularly scheduled sad coronavirus news, we thought we’d serve up some comfort food. Eater SF reached out to star chefs around town, who are currently cooped up in tiny apartments just like the rest of us. Here’s what they’re cooking at home for their own partners and families, to bring some warmth and comfort to these dark days.
Rabbit Stew from Pim Techamuanvivit
Michelin-starred chef Pim Techamuanvivit from Nari and Kin Khao finally took a day of rest on Sunday to spend at home with her fiancé. She took home a couple of Devil’s Gulch rabbits, left over from a big order from her supplier, which she didn’t have the heart to cancel. “Rabbit stew is one of my favorites, it’s like my chicken soup,” says the chef. “The rabbit is a touch gamier, and it’s so simple and nourishing.” She quarters the bunnies, browns them in big pot, and jams in lots of leeks, carrots, and cabbage, along with tinned tomatoes, and an entire bottle of white wine (“because why not?”). She simmers it down for hours and seasons it with a lot of fresh pepper. For the full recipe, check out one of her old Insta posts.
Roast Chicken and Couscous from Mourad Lahlou
Mourad Lahlou had to temporarily close his Michelin-starred Mourad, but he’s still doing long days at Aziza, packing up to-go orders. His wife Mathilde Froustey is a principal dancer for San Francisco Ballet, and she’s been coming into the restaurant every day. The couple gets home after ten in the evenings, staggering through the door. “We’re just so mentally drained and exhausted, every day is a range of emotions, hopeful to doomed, devastated to angry,” says Lahlou. The Parisian ballerina loves her bread and cheese, so on the worst days, they drop bags on the floor and start pulling out Josey Baker bread, cheese, and butter, and toss together a salad. The chef also likes to throw a simple roast chicken in the oven and bring home leftover couscous from the restaurant to warm up with brown butter and preserved lemons. “What’s really therapeutic for us is just sitting down together to go over the day,” he says.
Indian-Style Jacket Potatoes from Heena Patel
Chef Heena Patel from Besharam, Eater SF’s restaurant of the year, always does Gujarati-style comfort cooking, inspired by how her mom and aunties cook at home. Growing up in a vegetarian region of Indian, she’s used to putting beans to work and stretching one vegetable across four or five different dishes. For example, she’ll take cabbage and shape it into muthia dumplings or stir fry it into a shaak, which is then folded into roti. Either makes a warm and comforting snack, especially served with fresh chai. Her grown children are in Seattle and Oakland, so she’s at home with her husband Paresh these days, who has his own cravings. The couple met in London, and he requested jacket potatoes stuffed with Heinz beans. “But you know I had to make it Indian style,” the chef adds. She stir-fried the potatoes and mashed them a little bit to get crispy edges before piling on garlic, chiles, cumin, and one of the many chutneys from the fridge. “Anytime you want some Gujarati-style comfort food, you call me,” the chef gets serious. “I have a curbside pickup.”
Baby Artichoke Carbonara from David Nayfeld
Chef David Nayfeld from Che Fico is currently kicking it in a tiny apartment with his partner, 14-month-old daughter, and a 90-pound pit bull. He’s on “daddy duty” in the mornings, heading into the restaurant in the afternoons, where the team is not only doing takeout, but also handing out free meals to more than 300 families per night. “People really need carbs right now,” the pasta maestro opines. His family loves Tuscan-style soups, almost like ribollita, filled with beans, leftover sourdough, and handfuls of dark greens. But when the going gets tough, he takes comfort in carbonara. Inspired by Trattoria al Moro in Rome, he does the traditional egg yolks, guanciale, and pecorino, and also folds in spring’s first artichokes. “Turning artichokes is the most cathartic thing, and it’s really simple,” says the chef, who posted a video tutorial to prove it. “And carbonara is exactly what you need to eat your feelings right now.”
Fully Loaded Cinnamon Oatmeal from Lisa Vega
Chef Lisa Vega from Dandelion Chocolate lives alone in a Marina apartment and has been out jogging solo at Chrissy Field. “I never have food in my apartment,” the chef says. “My fridge has never been this full. I sent a photo to my mom.” The pastry chef took home some oatmeal cookie dough from the bakery, in case of emergencies. But also, “I’ve been cozying out on breakfast,” says the chef, who usually eats the morning meal standing in her clogs in the production kitchen. She’s making green smoothies with kale and matcha, golden milk with turmeric and cardamom, and porridge. “Growing up, my mom would make oatmeal and put a whole cinnamon stick in it, which was like fancy breakfast, much better than cereal,” she says. She’s fully loading it up with fresh bananas, dried cherries, coconut flakes, and more. “It feels healthy-ish, but it’s still really comforting.”