Tag Archives: Cooking

Conversations with Hilary: Executive Chef Howard Ko

This month I sat down with new friend and member of the PlumpJack family, Chef Howard Ko. We are so excited to have him on board as Executive Chef of Balboa Cafe Mill Valley. In his career to date, Howard has already worked at some of the most well-respected establishments – The Restaurant at Meadowood with Christopher Kostow, The French Laundry with Thomas Keller and in the kitchens of Goose & Gander in St. Helena, Melisse in Los Angeles, Hanilkwan in Osaka, and Daniel in New York.

Howard lives in Napa with his fiancée, Wendy, and dog, Whiskey. If you haven’t experienced Chef Ko’s food yet, you’re in for a treat. Howard takes bistro classics and adds his own modern twist. Locally sourcing his ingredients, and sometimes even foraging for them in the wilderness.

Bon Appetite Test Kitchen NYC with Chef Christopher Kostow & Chef Pancho (Restaurant at Meadowood)

Bon Appetite Test Kitchen NYC with Chef Christopher Kostow & Chef Pancho (Restaurant at Meadowood)

What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
Asking my fiancé Wendy to marry me. I never thought in a million years someone as wonderfully strong as her would agree to put up with my antics and this crazy adventure with me. We are getting married in August at San Francisco City Hall and am so excited!

What qualities do you think others love about you?
I think that I am understanding but stern at the same time. People know that I am fair and I think people are drawn to my work ethic, but also my sense of humor and lightheartedness.

If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would it be?
I would own a barbershop. I spent a lot of my childhood at barbershops and I can do a killer fade. That was my side gig during my youth.

What do you like most about what you do for a career?
Making people happy. I never got into cooking just to feed people. I got into this career to create memories.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit the snooze button – ha, just kidding. Make it to CrossFit. I have to take care of my body due to the demands of the business. I either CrossFit, go to the gym or for a run, and I am getting into cycling now.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
I’ve been working on Friday nights ever since I can remember but on the rare occasion I do have one off I like to try out a new restaurant and probably watch a movie.

What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
To get better at my craft. Cooking was something I knew I was going to do since I was in the 6th grade. I’ve been trying to perfect it ever since.

What are you passionate about now?
I’ve been cooking for 10 years now homing in on the things I don’t understand and researching them. Not knowing how to do something really bothers me when it comes to cooking. I want to know everything there is to know about it. My cookbook collection is getting rather extensive.

What’s your favorite season and why?
Spring! It’s when everything starts to come back to life. All the vegetables and fruits are so beautiful. They really add so much to dishes.

If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
Jameson neat. Nothing fancy. It’s a cook thing. Oh and chase it with a Chimay.

What’s the #1 most played song on your music rotation?
Right now it’s Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.

If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My grandma who passed a while ago. At a young age she was the one who raised me and I felt I never appreciated that enough. I’d like to talk to her and get to know her and thank her.

If your life was made into a movie, what would it be called?
Sacrifice

Do you have any regrets?
I think everyone does to some extent. I have a lot. I could have been better, I could have loved more, I could have worked harder, but then I could have sacrificed less and spent more time with family. It’s the nature of what I do and I do it because I love it.

Wendy and Howard in Napa

Wendy and Howard in Napa

Define Freedom.
Being able to cook the food I love and want, and to have the support of every guest that comes into my establishment.

What are your personal core values?
To always be kind and genuine. I will help anyone out who needs it and I want to leave a legacy. Like the memories that I am trying to create, something that outlives me, my restaurant, our company.

What three things would you bring with you on a desert Island?
My fiancé Wendy, our dog Whiskey and some beers. I am a simple man with simple needs.

Conversations with Hilary: Chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, Executive Chef and owner of the award-winning Atelier Crenn, is a true inspiration to women and chef’s alike. She is the first female chef in the U.S. to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars and she has held those stars since 2012. Being a woman in a leadership role and having two daughters, I celebrate women like Dominique who are innovators, leaders, and role models for young girls, and boys for that matter. Like the food she prepares, her answers were very thoughtful, creative, and insightful.stephen curry shoes 2013 for sale

What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
Being able to touch people doing what I love to do.

Do you have a prized possession?
My kindness. I think that people often think of an object for such a question however for me I have very few objects yet have spent my life working on what I think is important with regard to how I interact with others.

What qualities do you think others love about you?
I’m playful and kind.nike free 30

If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would it be?
photography.

What do you like most about what you do for a living/career?
I am a creative and am appreciated for being a creative, and am able to touch people with my creations.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I review my dreams.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
I am with my guests at the restaurant and if I’m not there, I am often at a charity event as I am so inspired when I get to participate in bringing people together in the name of doing good for others. I love the people I meet, the stories I hear and later, the results of all of our efforts in helping those who need to be supported.

What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
I loved soccer, Adidas sneakers, and talking with my dad as we walked the sand dunes of Brittany.

What are you passionate about now?
Pushing myself to delve into the deepest parts of my creative calling.

What’s your favorite season and why?
Oh wow…that is a tough one for me as all seasons offer new foods with which I get to work. If pressed, I must choose summer due to my absolute love affair with the tomato.

If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
Kir Bretonnike free run men

What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
It must be ….

If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My father. I would like to ask him to explain again so many things he tried to teach me that I sometimes feel I’m only old enough now to truly understand. I’d want one last chance to learn from him.

If your life was made into a movie, what would it be called?
(In French) When Pigs Can Fly.

Do you have any regrets?
It’s not a regret rather a wish for the past…and that is that I was so busy working so hard I never got the chance to go and stage in some of the great restaurants around the world. I would have loved to have gone to Michel Bras and a few in Japan

Define Freedom.
Oh that is easy, being supported to do work what reflects what is inside of me.new balance athletic shoes

What are your personal core values?
Kindness, kindness, kindness and then after that I would say to work hard and play nice.

You can get up close and personal with Dominique’s food at her restaurant Atelier Crenn, where you’ll find her most days working alongside her team in the open kitchen.nike womens free run 5.0