This month marks the launch of a new 13-episode TV series on PBS that definitely subscribes to the "go local" theme while highlighting the skills of some noteworthy Bay Area chefs. Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking is hosted by Pete Evans, who sports a too-cute Australian accent and says things like “Bob’s your uncle” while cooking. He is a celebrity chef, author and restaurateur in his native land and adds a mellow touch and marked enthusiasm to the TV screen.
The series is a collaboration between Fine Cooking magazine and Boston’s WGBH. Each episode is set up for chefs and food experts to do something called "culinary jams" -- as good a descriptor as any for this type of creative journey that gives visual insight into a region's terroir. A San Francisco episode that ends with a spice-centric group dinner at Cookhouse premieres on Saturday, September 14 (airs on KQED 9 Sat, Sep 21 at 8:30am) and features Cortney Burns and Jeffrey Saad.
"I think all chefs and food lovers have a soft spot for San Fran. I love the diversity and the push for organic and sustainable practices. Cortney Burns and Jeffrey Saad definitely know their town, and today was all about spice. We decided on a menu that would highlight cooking’s greatest secret... the use of intoxicating ingredients that turn humble ingredients into the sublime, with little fuss. Jeffrey played with galangal and shrimp to create a dish that anyone could master to rave reviews."
"Meanwhile, Cortney's turning TCHO’s (a San Francisco chocolate maker) chocolate into a spice enhanced dessert with chili, ginger and other exotic/tantalizing spices from this amazing planet we share. And lastly, I thought I would take the humble roast chicken and give it a makeover with an Indonesian spice mix of turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili and kaffir lime."
There is a slightly staged vibe to the program and one can see that the chefs were well coached to give thoughtful, detailed remarks. Each chef diligently explains cooking tips like why they want to obtain fresh spices, or how important it is to season shellfish before putting it into a hot pan. Cortney Burns verbally riffs on the use of ginger and spicy heat in her intriguing forbidden rice TCHO chocolate dessert, and it is pleasing to see a female cook with definite chops get her share of the culinary spotlight or 'jam' as it were. As far as TV goes, the show is a fresh take on learning about how chefs operate and think while they search for ingredients and put them to good use in the kitchen—no irritating competition, trash talk, or judges here. Just cooking and feasting with chefs and their friends.
Watch a preview of the series: