If you're reading this blog post, it means that KQED's Interactive team is doing its job. We oversee KQED.org and ensure all of its content is up 24-7, which is no easy feat. There's the technical folks (engineers and developers) who manage the nuts-and-bolts of our site, and then there's producers like myself who create the original stories, videos, news reports and other features that are showcased online.
Since we're behind a computer for most of the day tinkering in the virtual realm, it's nice to take a break and interact with our colleagues in the real world -- and there's no better way to do that (in my biased opinion) than with a gathering that's centered around food.
On a recent afternoon, we headed to the Dogpatch (a lovely 20-minute walk from the station) to Hands On Gourmet for a a collaborative cooking session. (One of the co-founders, Stephen Gibbs, had a brief stint blogging for Bay Area Bites.) When we arrived at Hands On Gourmet's spacious, sunny loft space, we indulged in a sampler of cheese and wine as we took in lovely views of the city.
As much as we would have been happy spending the entire day chatting over wine and cheese, it was time to start cooking. Chef Dan introduced himself and his fellow chefs to us -- Joshua and Christine -- who were going to help us prepare an Indian feast.
It was a full menu with fried vegetable fritters (pakoras), naan, eggplant stew (bengan bharta), cucumber and mint salad, and keema gobi, a lamb-and-vegetable curry (which we also made a vegetarian version of with squash). We tied on our aprons, divided into groups and headed to our stations which were already stocked with our ingredients.
Chef Joshua managed our table, which was in charge of the keema gobi and cucumber mint salad. Tim Olson, Tina Barseghian, Craig Rosa and AJ Alfieri-Crispin (Media Systems Admin) prepped the food for the curry, while I worked on the salad.
Joshua gave a lesson to Tim about how to quickly chop up an onion, then gave a brief tutorial to AJ on mincing ginger: first peel the root, then slice it into thin planks, then thin matchsticks, and finish up with mincing them cross-wise. Tina and Craig got the squash ready for the veggie version of the curry.
Meanwhile, the pakoras were well underway in the capable hands of Amanda Stupi (Interactive Producer, News), Carol C. and Emmanuel Hapsis, who were happily deep-frying a huge batch of chickpea-floured vegetables.
Colleen Wilson (Director, Interactive) passed them out with a fantastic sweet-and-sour achar chutney that their team had also prepared.
I had put in a healthy dose of cayenne into my cucumber salad, but luckily it didn't make it too spicy. Justin gave it a thumbs up after I added a bit more lemon zest and juice and second bunch of mint to mix in. (We served the cilantro on the side as not everyone on our team was a fan of the herb.)
My other colleagues were busy working at their stations on raita, naan and dessert.
After about two hours of working away in the kitchen, it was time to savor the fruits of our labor. But of course, as media employees of KQED, we had to thoroughly document our meal beforehand prior to sitting down for lunch.
As we dived into our food, we debated which team's dish came out the best. I personally think the cucumber mint salad stole the show, although those highly addictive pakoras were pretty tasty.
Somehow, after polishing off our huge plates of food, we still had room for dessert: a date walnut cake with a brandy-caramel sauce. We loosened the strings on our aprons and dug in -- I mean, how could you resist this?
Afterwards, we thanked the chefs for a fun and delicious day. They were great to work with and I think we all walked away with a little bit more culinary savvy under our belts.
We slowly roused ourselves from the table and as we had some extra time, thought about where to venture next. One of our discussions over lunch had turned to the subject of our favorite ice cream spots, and as Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous was a mere block away, we magically found an appetite for more dessert. Coffee soon followed at Piccino, and then it was onto Yield Wine Bar for one last round of drinks. Fortunately, there were no technical difficulties back at the station in our absence. I don't know if they would have been able to rouse us from our food comas.