Tag Archives: San Francisco

Slow Cooked Smokey Barbecue Chili


I tell you this every time I post a recipe, but I’ll tell you again. I love to cook because it’s creative. There are generally so few activities that get us away from the computer, and allow us to use our hands. That is precisely why the kitchen is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Yesterday was a quiet day at home. I spent the morning with the ladies from Team In Training going for a Saturday morning jog, brunch and then drifted through my favorite local Farmer’s market at Lakeshore in Oakland.

On a Fall day with three hours to do as I choose there is no greater joy than pulling out the slow cooker and losing myself in some heavy duty chopping.

Dish purchased at Cost Plus World Market

Slow cooked food always tastes better. The dish soaks up all kinds of flavors given that it has more time to marinate. That being said, slow cooked chili is one of my favorite things to make. It opens up your pores just as much as a salsa dancing class would. And if you like spice and flavor, there’s no shortage of variations you can do. I like to kick the heat and spice into high gear. You can control how spicy the dish is with the optional ingredients listed below.

You don’t have to make this in a slow cooker but it adds a lot of flavor.

Smokey Chili Recipe Ingredients:

1 lb heirloom tomatoes (the fresher the better)
1/3 cup of smokey barbecue sauce
1 lb extra lean beef (organic if possible)
1 green bell pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 yellow onion chopped
1 can of Cuban black beans
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Optional Chili ingredients:

1 cup Israeli cous cous or another grain to serve with
chili powder or chipotle seasoning [check out the Rancho Gordo Chili Powder found at the SF Ferry Building or Farmer’s Market]
2 Habanero Peppers


1. Spray pan with olive oil spray or pam. On medium heat saute the chopped onions in garlic. Chop green pepper and add. Once soft, add ground beef and break up the meat in the pan. You might add some of your chicken broth to avoid having to use olive oil and keeping the meat moist.
2. Heat slow cooker and add in all chopped ingredients stirring every 45 minutes or so. Add water if soup is too thick. Heat on high for about 4 hours on high, or 8 hour on low.
3. Serve with Israeli cous-cous and a spritzel of cheese on top garnished with cilantro or fennel.

I always just use what I have in the fridge or pantry. There’s no sense in starting your car up and driving to the market for one small ingredient.

I garnished my soup with fennel rather than cilantro. Fennel, while probably an uncharacteristic garnish, still tastes wonderful. Frozen cilantro went into the soup but wouldn’t have looked very becoming on top of the meal.

I took one bite of this soup and melted on the kitchen floor. The fresh heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market and all the spices made this dish an absolute pleasure to eat.


To dress the table for your meal, depicted below are a feast of Dahlias.

Heirloom tomatoes, golden beets, carrots and cucumbers from Lakeshore Farmer’s Market.  Fresh veggies make all the difference. Once you get your veggies directly from the farmers you won’t ever want to get your veggies from a plastic case at Trader Joe’s again. I promise you this.


Enter Jordan’s Kitchen–A Place of Education, Professionalism And Unpretentious Stellar Cuisine


If leaders want to know how to successfully manage highly creative people in a chaotic environment with high stress, they should talk to a chef. Actually they should talk to former Jersey boy Jordan Shachter of Jordan’s Kitchen.

In the two courses I took with Chef Jordan, I was very impressed with the professionalism and the quality of his courses. As you know I never endorse things on my blog, but I can honestly tell you this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in anyone’s kitchen. The classes are pretty affordable too.

Jordan wants cooking to be fun, unpretentious–and will always answer questions about fancy kitchen tools by saying “Don’t let Sur La Table fool you….” As someone who obsessively watches the Food Network and Iron Chef, Jordan helped demystify some of the wrong notions I have about the culinary world–largely created by TV.

Jordan creates all of his own menus–he also creates all of this own recipes. This is pretty ambitious considering how busy he is–with a newborn baby girl!

Jordan takes great care in the uniqueness and balance of the flavors. You wonder if he ever took some kind of Six Sigma or lean course–or studied Quality Assurance.

At any rate, I highly recommend Jordan’s class if you are looking to host a dinner party, do team building at your company, or are looking to learn some great new culinary techniques.

You will be delighted by the quality of the cooking, the class and the overall customer experience.

He took some time to answer a few of my questions. Photos are included below the interview.


Blake Landau: What inspired your career in culinary arts?

Jordan Shachter: My favorite courses in college were my Sustainable Ag. classes. By sophomore year I was working on organic and biodynamic farms. Growing food cultivated my love for cooking. I always had a sense that I wanted to “feed people.” After college I worked two front of the house gigs in nice restaurants for some extra income and liked the service end of things. In 2005 living in SF a friend (who was a local chef at the time) and I wrote a business plan to open a gourmet food truck. This was before the huge food truck craze but there was so much red tape that we dropped the idea. Too bad, we really would have nailed that trend…

Around this time I was cruising Craigslist for something (unclear what) and saw an add looking for a private chef. I though, Oh, I can do that and I replied. I interviewed, did a trial dinner and was hired instantly. He told his friends about me the very next week and within a month I had four new clients. just like that it was meant to be… The whole thing has unfolded very organically.

BL: What is the key to running a tight kitchen?

JS: Clarity, organization, integrity, high standards, focus and attention to every detail.

BL: What is the number one misconception about cooking?

JS: There are several misconceptions. What comes to my mind is: That you need a lot of tools, expensive equipment and years of training to be a good cook. Start with a sharp knife, a good pot or pan and the best ingredients you can buy (or harvest).Some fire wouldn’t hurt either.

The other misconception is that cooking is a glamorous profession. The celebrity chefs that you see on television have probably worked between ten and twenty years prior in kitchens, starting in the dish pit or picking parsley. Cooks work their asses off! the hours are long and unconventional> did I mention cooks work their asses off?

BL: Name your top three tools for being a good teacher for your courses?

JS: Top three tools:

1. It starts with customer service before anyone ever even steps foot into the kitchen. I’m always trying to create a very personal experience; food is love. I always refer to the students by their names, it helps to foster a real connection. People are shocked when I actually answer their phone calls or emails personally and promptly. But this allows me to connect with them before we even meet.

2. Humor. Be funny! I am anything but pc in my classes. I tend to curse a lot. I do this intentionally, it’s not just because I’m from Jersey… I find that it lightens the mood and reminds people that we are cooking because it’s fun. Kitchens are not stuffy places. Well, a few three stars are but that should not concern the home cooks that come through our door. I want people to feel relaxed. We can be ourselves, it’s easier to create better food (or better anything) from this place.

3. Be organized and mindful. I am managing a growing business. I’m also managing every cook/student in the class while making sure that we successfully execute very ambitious four course menus. I need the food to get cooked but I also need to be sure that everyone is participating, receiving my attention and having a good time.

BL: What are the five and ten year visions for Jordan’s Kitchen?

JS: The five year vision:  I am in the process of developing a system at Jordan’s Kitchen that will enable me to hire other cooks and personalities to lead classes in the future. This system will clearly emphasize and teach our philosophy and style both with food and teaching. It will then be easier to train others to offer the same caliber of experience that I am able to under the Jordan’s Kitchen “umbrella”.  It would be so great to offer more classes so we can connect with more home cooks and continue to build and strengthen our food community. But I am very clear that I am unwilling to grow at the expense of the class experience. They must remain intimate, extremely hands on and personal.

In ten years I hope I will be ready to shift the energy of Jordan’s Kitchen towards more charitable work. I envision a community soup kitchen to feed as many people in need as we can. It’s important to me to always give back. The courses made during my classes were [photos taken with my iphone]:


Classes and Photos A Ala Blake

CLASS 1 — “Delicious Desserts”

Profiteroles with coffee ice cream and chocolate sauce

Apple and pear tart with slivered almonds

Chocolate souffle with creme anglaise

[That’s me looking very happy–next to my new friend Mr. Souffle]

Mexican hot chocolate with chili and cinnamon

note: Grapefruit and tarragon sorbet and Meyer lemon sorbet not pictured

[I don’t have a photo–I guess I ate it too fast 🙂 sorry!


CLASS 2– “Spring’s Sprung”

Baby artichokes,Gioia burrata and black olive crostini

Monterey Bay squid, fingerling potatoes, arugula and salsa verde

Roasted organic chicken with asparagus two ways, puree and tips

& extra virgin olive oil cake with strawberry and rhubarb couli