Eat With Your Eyes First 3

Evan’s Kitchen Shares Secrets to “Comfort Gourmet” Cooking at Home

Chef Evan Elsberry’s customers love how each dish is fresh and bursting with flavor yet straightforward and exactly what the menu describes. Italians praise his minty lamb lasagna and Irish guests celebrate the corned beef. College students dream about his French toast. A true southern gentleman was defeated in a country gravy battle, and one guest, after finishing her meal, satisfyingly announced she could die now.

Chef Evan is humbled. He has been cooking for 35 years and spends each day doing what he enjoys most, preparing “little pieces of art” for his customers. Evan’s Kitchen has been in business for 11 years and much like its neighboring antique stores, Chef Evan has created a special culinary experience that is similar to a cozy visit to Grandma’s house. The furniture is old-fashioned, you are never rushed, and if you have special dietary restrictions, you may even get a custom menu. Customers call Chef Evan’s mother/business partner “Grandma.”

When it comes to lending advice for at-home chefs, he’s found that a few simple rules can make the process easier and the results tastier. The first he describes as “mise en place,” a French term for getting organized and having all your ingredients ready. He recommends shopping at Trader Joe’s or Corti Brothers, where you will get a personal touch, and stopping by the farmers market at W and 8th streets or at Cesar Chavez Park, where the colorful combinations of fresh produce are beautiful.

“You eat with your eyes first,” says Chef Evan, who incorporates as much color as possible into his honest cooking practice and takes advantage of being located in the farm-to-fork capital of the nation.

With a vegetable medley, he creates a vibrant display by adding three bell peppers, zucchini, squash (butternut or winter depending on the season), broccoli, red onion, shallots and carrots. Sauté with garlic until it is perfumed, add a little salt, pepper and butter, and it’s ready to serve.

Chef Evan builds food from the bottom up, comparing it to building a house. The flavors found in his eggs benedict, prime rib and eggplant lasagna are distinct and carefully selected. He recommends having a good array of fresh herbs on hand to experiment with.

“Cook up a scrambled egg and put an herb in there to see what it tastes like,” says Chef Evan. “Eat it with tarragon or dill. You get a feel for what different things taste like.”

A few secrets from the Chef?

  • Take time to make roasted garlic — it’s less harsh and a little sweeter (cover whole garlic cloves with canola oil, put foil over the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes).
  • Consider cooking with Cupcake wine, it’s simple and straightforward.
  • Want to add a twist to your beer batter? Add in three ounces of 7Up. You’ll love the results.