Executive Chef at Grand Cafe
Alicia Jenish, Executive Chef at Grand Café in San Francisco, has a career that's been at a steady sizzle since she grew up grilling in Arizona. Always one to think healthfully, she likes to put veggies over the fire and makes a mean grilled bread salad.
- Q: What are your favorite things to throw on the fire?
- A: Being an Arizona girl, I love grilling all year long. I gravitate toward mesquite and fruit-tree woods, like apricot or apple. They pair really well with grilling lamb or pork.
- Q: Have you ever done a whole animal on the grill?
- A: I've grilled a whole pig on coal under banana leaves. I'm a big fan of doing a mixed grill, a blend of different cuts from one whole animal. Then you get variety lamb chops, lamb sausage and lamb leg on one plate. I find it's best to break a whole animal down since all the different parts and pieces grill differently. I like grilling whole birds too, especially chicken and quail.
- Q: Can you share a little bit about the difference between cooking over coal and wood?
- A: You can definitely taste the difference between, say, steak cooked over wood and steak cooked over coal. The wood-fired steak gets a much cleaner smoke flavor. I prefer to grill leaner meats and fish over wood. Cherry wood in particular really imparts a nice taste.
- Q: Can you spill some secrets for good grilling?
- A: Patience! People build a raging inferno and chuck everything on it and wonder why their food is charred and tough. You have to build a fire with a strong coal base, and not grill over the hottest part.
- Q: How do you put your stamp on grilled items?
- A: I like to grill vegetables and make salads with them. I love making grilled bread salads, like panzanella.
- Q: What are the must-have tools to use when working with fire?
- A: Tongs, a meat fork and spatula.
- Q: What the craziest thing you've ever grilled?
- A: With a guest chef from Australia, I grilled kangaroo! It was rubbed with chili and the texture was really tough. I have to say, it was gross!
Behind the Apron: Featured Recipe
In the spirit of Fire, Alicia is serving something special:
For a little of the flavor at home,
Grand Cafe | 501 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | Phone: (415) 292-0101 | www.grandcafe-sf.com