Photo Credit for Chef and Food Shots: Ben Davidson Photography
Anise Halibut with Ribbon Squash Skewers & Pistachio-Mint Salsa Pearl Couscous
1385 N. Hamilton Parkway
Novato, CA 94949
Biography by Ben Davidson:
When local PBS-TV celebrity chef, writer, restaurateur and cooking teacher Joanne Weir recently descended on the Key Room at Homeward Bound in Novato, Marin’s foodie fans were enraptured. Weir was the headliner of the evening’s Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project of Homeward Bound of Marin, benefitting shelter and job-training programs in the county. Fresh Starts culinary programs are presented at the center year-round.
Guests spent an intimate evening with the spry, amiable Weir, hearing about her storied career as a chef and teacher, and tasting her culinary inspirations. “I’m a fourth generation professional cook.” “In my work as a teacher,” says Weir, “I’ve traveled all over America and the world but I’m always drawn back to the place that owns my heart, the kitchen.”
An author of 16 cookbooks, Weir says “The food that I love is anything from the Mediterranean and the wonderful thing about Marin is that it’s actually on the same latitude as the Mediterranean, the 37th parallel, and it has the same products.” I love anything that fresh, seasonal, and sustainable. That’s really my philosophy.”
Weir has worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, which she describes as “an absolutely cathartic experience. It’s the Harvard of restaurants because you’ve got the crème de la crème.” “I feel so fortunate that I worked at Chez Panisse for five years.”
Weir also studied with Madeleine Kamman in New England and France and received a Julia Child Cooking Teacher Award of Excellence and a James Beard Foundation Award. In addition, the chef has hosted PBS-TV shows that include "Joanne Weir's Cooking Class" and "Weir Cooking in Wine Country" and her current show “Getting Fresh with Joanne Weir” appears regularly on PBS. A prolific writer, Weir says she’s “always written about the Mediterranean but one book, my 16th,, is about tequila. That’s when I opened Copita (a Mexican restaurant in Sausalito). The food there is phenomenal.”
Weir travels and teaches all over the world, using villas in locations like Spain, Morocco, Italy, France and Greece for her cooking classrooms. “It’s fun,” she says, “because it’s a complete immersion into a culture. It’s not just cooking classes, it’s getting to know the (local) people.” “
For the Fresh Starts program, Weir presented a menu from her new book, “Kitchen Gypsy” and filled the evening with entertaining anecdotes from her wide travels and experiences. Choosing from some 100 new recipes in her book, including treasures from her travels and family favorites from people like Great-Grandmother Lettie, one of several professional chefs and food lovers in her family tree, Weir’s menu included Carrot Soup, Anise Halibut with Ribbon Squash Skewers, and Pistachio-Mint Salsa Pearl Couscous with Parsley and Lemon.
The evening of cuisine and conversation was capped with her delicious rendition of Chocolate Pavé and all guests received a copy of "Kitchen Gypsy" and had the opportunity to get a personal autograph from the chef. It was a Marin foodie experience nonpareil.