Chef Roundtable

Culinary Personalities

Kevin Webber, Executive Chef at The Cliff House

I would do a cioppino. It’s such a traditional fall dish, especially here in the Bay Area. At Thanksgiving, the season for Dungeness crab has just started, and that’s when the meat is the fullest and heaviest. It’s a hearty meal, and as elegant as it looks, cioppino is very easy to make. You need a tomato sauce, which you can do the day before and just reheat it later. I think tomato sauce always tastes best when it’s a day old. On the day of the dinner, you can shop for your fish. I’d recommend Fisherman’s Wharf, where the crab is fresh out of the water. Maybe add some prawns, some local rock cod, some clams, and scallops. Slice up some Boudin Bakery sourdough and serve the cioppino with a nice bottle of Chardonnay.

Cioppino from Chef Kevin Webber of The Cliff House
serves eight


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, medium dice
3 ribs celery, medium dice
1 large red bell pepper, medium dice
1 leek, white part only, medium dice
1 fennel bulb, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried tarragon
6 oz tomato paste
28-oz can diced tomatoes
28-oz can tomato sauce
4 6-oz bottles clam juice
1 glass white wine
2 c water
1 Tbsp Pernod (optional)

1 lb 16/20 prawns, peeled and deveined
1 lb rock fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb Manila clams, washed and scrubbed
8 oz scallops, cut across the grain


In a deep pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onion and celery until opaque (approximately 3 minutes). Add the peppers, leeks, garlic, and fennel. Sauté 2 minutes. Add all the dry spices and sauté briefly. Pour in 1 glass white wine. Add the Pernod. Add all the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, clam juice, and water. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add prawns and clams to sauce. Cook 2 minutes. Add scallops and rockfish and cook 2 more minutes. Check to see if all the clams are opened and the fish is cooked through. Serve in large bowls with San Francisco sourdough bread and a Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Josiah Slone, Executive Chef at Sent Sovi

What most holiday dinners lack are vegetable dishes, so I try to make that a focus of mine. One dish that I like doing is Roasted Brussels Sprouts. First, I render some bacon, then use the grease to roast the quartered Brussels sprouts until they’re almost burnt. Next, I’ll put them in a casserole dish with the bacon, some chopped shallots, allspice, salt, and pepper and reheat them in the oven. If we have to have a bird, I’ll do a whole duck. For that, I’ll boil some water and pour it over the skin, which causes it to seize up. Then I dry it with a hair drier. This allows it to get really crispy while it's roasting. That takes about three hours, and you want to baste it several times with the fat using a ladle. By the end, the skin is crispy and the meat just full of flavor. It’s a nice change from dried-out turkey and stuffing from a package.

Whole Roasted Duck with Brussels Sprouts from Chef Josiah Slone of Sent Sovi
makes one duck


1 whole duck (preferably from Sonoma Valley Poultry "Liberty Ducks")
kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
Brussels sprouts

shallots, chopped


In a large sink, pour boiling water over the duck in order to "seize" the skin. Hang from the neck and dry throughly with a hairdryer. The skin should have the consistency of parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season liberally with salt and pepper and roast on a rack in a deep roasting pan for approximately 3 hours, or until the thigh joints are loose. Baste every 30 minutes. Rest 10 minutes and carve.

Roast Brussels sprouts until almost burned. Render bacon in a pan over medium-low heat. Once rendered, toss bacon and bacon fat with Brussels sprouts in a roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice to taste, then add chopped shallots. Reheat in the oven and serve with duck.

Robert Helstrom, Executive Chef at Kuleto’s

Prime rib. You’ve gotta do the prime rib for Christmas. Everybody loves prime rib, and it’s easy. It’s such a good winter dish. When it’s cold outside, it makes the house smell so great. When people walk in the door, they just breathe in that warmth and savoriness. It appeals to all the senses, too: It has a wonderful smell, it tastes fabulous, and it’s a great visual. Just before dinnertime, everyone wants to come into the kitchen to see the meat being cut. Making prime rib is simple, but you’ve got to get a choice, truly prime cut of prime rib. Don’t get the cheap stuff. It’s got to have the bone in, too, and the fat on the meat. Once you’ve got the right meat, there’s almost nothing to it.

Prime Rib from Chef Robert Helstrom of Kuleto's
serves several hungry people


1 18 to 20 lb prime rib
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
horseradish, for garnish


Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Salt and pepper meat all over. Place vegetables in the bottom of a roasting dish, then add the meat, skin side down, in the dish. Bake for 3 hours. Flip. Cook 2-1/2 hours more, or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees.

David Lawrence, Executive Chef at 1300 Fillmore

Maple Syrup-Braised Beef Short Rib. Why? Well, I work during the holidays, so I need the perfect dish to make ahead of time. I can put it in the oven and take it out 4 hours later. That way, after I get off work, my wife and I can sit down and have a great Christmas dinner together. I just place it on a bed of whipped mashed potatoes and serve it with braised collared greens—oh, and a glass of red wine, of course.

Short Ribs from Executive Chef David Lawrence of 1300 Fillmore
serves some hungry folks


Short rib cure:
1 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp allspice
1 tsp chile flakes
salt and pepper to taste

8 short ribs
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 lb celery
1/2 lb onion
1/2 c hoisin sauce
1/2 c oyster sauce
2 pcs star anise
6 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 c red wine
1 gal brown chicken stock
1/4 c blended oil (extra virgin olive oil and canola oil)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, roll the short ribs in the cure until nicely coated. In a large pot, heat oil over low to medium heat. Place short ribs in pot, making sure the temperature is low enough to avoid burning the sugar. When well-browned, remove from pan. Add vegetables and sauté until brown. Deglaze pan with red wine. Add chicken stock spices, herbs, hoisin, oyster sauce, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Pour hot stock over short ribs in a large roasting pan. Make sure you completely cover the short ribs. Place in oven and cook for about 3 hours, or until ribs are very tender.