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Monday, March 29, 2010

Bar Agricole's Brandon Jew: The SFoodie Interview, Part 1

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 8:15 AM

Brandon Jew. - M. LADD
  • M. Ladd
  • Brandon Jew.
Until SOMA's long-awaited Bar Agricole opens in late spring or early summer, its executive chef ― Brandon Jew ― is working at Oakland's Camino, Bar Jules, and as a private chef. After getting an undergraduate degree in biology, the San Francisco native surprised his family when he told them he'd decided to cook for a living. Since then, he's clocked time at Quince, Magnolia, MarketBar, Zuni, Roy's in Newport Beach (Orange County), and even worked briefly in Italy and Shanghai. He shared his thoughts with SFoodie about his early inspirations, favorite off-night haunts, and the ingredients that'll show up at Bar Agricole. Part two of our Q&A with Jew drops tomorrow.

SFoodie: Hey, Brandon, tell us about the food epiphanies you experienced in your early cooking days?

Jew: My first epiphany in a kitchen was when I was doing my apprenticeship in Bologna. Walking into a butcher shop full of beautiful cured meat hanging everywhere and the paté in the glass cases. I will never forget the wonderful smell ... people would probably go ape shit over it if it were a cologne. It's carnal in every way.

What's your first Bay Area food memory? Being born in S.F., my first food memories here were when I was a kid, going to Chinatown with my grandma. We bought one or two things from each store until we had all that we could carry. Dried scallops here, gai lan there, duck legs there, tangerines there ... so on and so on. Looking back on that, it's how we are going to be buying things at Bar Agricole. Daily purchasing of the best stuff each purveyor can offer and making something delicious with it.

What flavors, ingredients, or techniques do you have an irrational attachment to? I have a fascination with fennel pollen, squid ink, and chiles. This last summer I've done a lot of traveling to Paris, London, New York, Chicago. Coming back to S.F. I can truthfully say we have the very best vegetables in the world. I've been fascinated lately on all things vegetables, which is kind of remarkable because I consider myself a butcher. Technique-wise, I love making terrines. They are like little edible mosaics.

Tomorrow: Part two of our interview with Brandon Jew.

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Mary Ladd

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