On the menu on Chef Julian Yeo’s July 16 Macy’s presentation were golden potatoes with smoked onion fennel soubise and Ikura 63 degree egg. The dish took close to an hour to prepare and it was worth the wait. Each guest sampled a wedge of the mealy Yukon gold potatoes nestled in a light cream sauce and garnished with sprigs of fragrant dill and glossy orange balls of salty salmon roe.
“Every month when we do these demos, the people who come can learn about the restaurants and chefs in the area they might not know about,” says event moderator Carolyn Jung, a Bay Area food writer and creator of the blog Foodgal.com. “A lot of times, after demos, people are excited and can’t wait to go to the restaurant to have a meal.”
Yeo’s demonstration occurred days before the weekend opening of his family’s new Santana Row restaurant, Roots & Rye. He refers to the restaurant as a craft cocktail bar and American gastro-lounge.
“We’re going to specialize in hand-crafted things,” he says. “We make everything in-house. We make our own pasta. We make our own butter. For cocktails, we make our own infusions. We cut our own ice. It’s a super craft bar. It’s very labor intensive but I think it’s worth what we’re trying to do. [We have] 150 whiskeys. Some of them are pretty rare.”
When Jung asked if the potato dish Yeo was making would be available at the restaurant, Yeo assured her that the item would eventually be on the menu, though it is not offered now.
Preparing the eggs in a special machine that cooks eggs in water heated to 63 degrees Celsius, Yeo gushes about the resulting “perfect poached eggs.”
“I’ll go over the ingredients,” he says, surveying the items spread out on the kitchen counter. “I would prefer to roast the potatoes but that takes a long time. For today I will be hand roasting them. At home what you would do with that is you would dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper and then dice them however you like them. I prefer wedges. And then throw them in the oven until they’re how you like them … The longest thing [to prepare] is our smoked onion and fennel. I smoked these the other day. They took about three hours but it’s really worth doing. I smoked them with some cherry wood. It’s not a necessary step, but for my dish, I think it creates a different layer of flavor, with the smokiness that comes out of the onion.”
Attending the cooking demonstration was Yeo’s father, Chris Yeo, whose restaurants include Santana Row’s Sino, a Chinese restaurant, and Straits, a Singaporean restaurant.