How 3 SRJC graduates are using their culinary arts education to influence our eating habits

“I oversee restaurants when our chefs are out, and every once in a while I’ll be in charge and cooking,” she said. “I work very closely with our chefs… and I look at work, quality control and how we can get better.”

She credits SRJC’s program with showing her what working in the food industry is like, including the physically demanding work of being on her feet day and night. Taylor said she enjoys when it gets really crowded and everyone has to pull together and, in restaurant jargon, get out of the weeds.

“It’s great team building and I think it brings out some people’s personalities,” she said. “Once you’ve found your people, you can be a little weird. It is in order. No one will judge you while you’re sweating in the heat, hungry and doing 350 covers.”

Like any chef, she’s used to getting her own meals on the go.

“There’s no better place to eat than by the Dumpster, that’s just the way it is,” she said. “At night, it’s a quick midnight snack with quesadillas, grilled cheese, or a bowl of granola. The last thing we want to eat is the restaurant food. You smell like it when you come home.”

The recipe below was created by Estate Chef Forest Kellogg of J Vineyards & Winery, who sent it out in a newsletter to wine club members. You can cut these in half and serve as an appetizer or as a main course for lunch.

Shrimp Toast

Makes 4 toasts

1½ pounds raw shelled shrimp

1 yellow onion, small cubes (about 8 ounces)

1 stalk celery, small cubes (about 4 ounces)

1 carrot, small cubes (about 4 ounces)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 bunch of thyme

1 liter of olive oil

1 loaf of unsliced ​​bread of your choice

1 tablespoon butter

2 oranges, 1 sliced ​​and 1 juiced (save juice separately)

1 head haircut, washed and separated

1 bunch of Italian parsley, washed and chopped

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 shallot, chopped (about 2 ounces)

¼ cup sherry

2 lemons

2 avocados, thinly sliced

Rinse shrimp under cold water. Devein and peel, then cut in half vertically to create two identical halves. Reserve the shrimp shells and tails and roast the shrimp shells in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes until golden brown. Crack, break, or chop the clams into pieces (about the size of a thumbnail).

In a large, heavy saucepan over high heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the carrot, onion, and celery until tender. Add the peels and tomato paste and cook another 5 to 8 minutes.

Carefully pour in the remaining oil and add bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Make sure all the ingredients are covered in oil; Depending on the shape and size of the pot, you may need to add more than a quart. Let stand over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to low and cook for at least 1 hour.

Switch off and let cool for at least 1 hour. The oil should be a deep red color and none of the solids should be burned. Once cool, pass through a sieve and collect the oil. Discard the solids and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth at least twice. Once the oil has completely cooled, transfer to a bottle. Shrimp oil can be stored in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for up to three months. Excellent as a topping for pasta, pizza, seafood and vegetable dishes.

Cut the bread into four 1.5 cm thick slices. Drizzle with shrimp oil and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, add enough shrimp oil to fill the bottom of the pan and heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Place the sliced ​​bread oil side down and bake until golden brown. When done, remove from the pan, slice diagonally and place on a clean plate.

Season the halved shrimp with salt and pepper. In the same pan you used for the toast, add enough shrimp oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat until you start to see smoke. Add the shrimp carefully, being careful not to splatter the oil or overcrowd the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you may have to work in batches. Let the shrimp develop some color before adding them to the pan. Cook until slightly undercooked. Place on a large plate.

Once the shrimp are removed, reduce the heat to minimum and add the shallots, chopped garlic, and 1 teaspoon shrimp oil. Simmer until translucent, being careful not to burn or develop color, about 1 minute.

Add the sherry and orange juice to deglaze the pan and gently scrape off any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat to medium and reduce the sherry until almost all of the liquid is gone. Reduce heat to simmer.

Add 2 tablespoons shrimp oil and 2 tablespoons cold, diced butter. Quickly add shrimp, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and the juice of both lemons. Stir constantly until the butter has melted and an emulsified sauce has formed. Taste and add more salt and lemon if desired.

In a mixing bowl, drizzle some of the warm sauce over the frisée and orange fillets and lightly salt.

Serve sliced ​​avocado on toast and season with salt. Follow with shrimp, then frisée salad. Finish with pan sauce, parsley and a drizzle of shrimp oil.

“My cousin Candice and I came up with this one summer day in the pool at the Rio Nido Roadhouse,” Liz Guerra said. “It blends our love of summer flavors with fun little twists from our melting pot heritage.”

If you can’t find furikake, you can substitute toasted black and white sesame seeds. Gochugaru, a Korean chili flake, is sold in Asian markets and Oliver’s Markets.

Cucumber and Watermelon Salad

Makes 4-6 servings

For the salad dressing:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar or mirin

2 teaspoons gochugaru

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the salad:

1 English cucumber or 4 small Persian cucumbers, small cubes

2 cups seedless watermelon, diced small

1 cup mung bean sprouts, roughly chopped

For painting:

Furikake spice

In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Add cucumber cubes, watermelon and bean sprouts. Mix everything together and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle your favorite furikake mix over the salad and serve alongside grilled treats in summer.

“These are always things I have on hand for summer get-togethers,” said Kaitlyn Taylor, who shared this favorite casual salad recipe. You can add more or less ingredients depending on how many people you will be serving.

Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad

Sliced ​​heirloom tomatoes

Peaches, preferably Dry Creek Peach, cut into wedges

Red onion, sliced

Burrata cheese, shredded

Basil, freshly picked

Fleur de sel and pepper

balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Overlap a single layer of tomatoes and peaches. Garnish with red onions, burrata and basil. Finish off with a sprinkling of fleur de sel, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of your favorite balsamic and extra-virgin olive oils.

Contributor Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or On Twitter @dianepete56.

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