Nancy Oakes, Boulevard Restaurant, San Francisco
Twelve years after Nancy Oakes opened the doors of the much lauded San Francisco eatery Boulevard, she and long-time collaborator and chef de cuisine, Pamela Mazzola have finally published Boulevard The Cookbook, the best culinary title I laid my hands on last year.
This month Nancy took time out with Jeremy Emmerson to chat about the book, Boulevard and life out of the kitchen.
On the book…
How would you describe Boulevard The Cookbook to your friends?
The cookbook is a true reflection of Boulevard the Restaurant, although the selections were carefully chosen to be possible for the home cook.
Why did you wait until twelve years after the opening of the restaurant to publish a cookbook on its food?
Writing is a different discipline from cooking in the kitchen. It was a difficult experience and I could have waited 12 more.
Do you wish you had done it sooner?
Yes, for the sole reason that it has strengthened the friendship between Pam and myself. It was a difficult experience but we both grew from it.
Any plans for a follow up, or is this like asking a friend who just had a baby "are you going to have another one?"
What is your favorite recipe in the book?
"Steamship" Short Ribs Bourguignon
Will you be going on a book tour to promote the title?
We have done some traveling already to Seattle, New York, and Chicago. This year we are planning a cooking class and cookbook signing trip, but we have nothing settled yet.
Could you offer a word of advice to the other chefs out there that would like to publish a book on their food?
Make the recipes approachable, no matter ho complicated your food is.
Why do you think your restaurant has become such a busy dining destination?
It's a combination of interesting approachable food, professional but friendly service and a terrific ambiance.
Do you have any big business plans for the restaurant for 2006, like opening another one somewhere else in the US or a "Boulevard Café"?
Yes, but not a Boulevard, a more fun environment.
Which five people, dead or alive would you invite to join you for dinner at the restaurant?
David Sedaris, Brangelina (just kidding), Mark Twain, John Adams, Ira Glass, Elizabeth David.
Outside the Restaurant…
What is your all time favorite cookbook?
I always seem to turn to Larousse Gastronomique, but then I have other favorites like The Gold Cookbook, and The Carolina Housewife.
What book is on your bedside table right now?
The Pearl Diver and Bob Dylan Chronicles.
What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Mustard and mayo, but I always have really good olive oil and balsamic vinegar on hand.
What would you want as your last meal on earth?
Caviar on toasted English muffins with lots of really good butter. (however politically incorrect it may be, it's the truth)
If you went to heaven what piece of equipment would you want the big man to have in his kitchen for you?
As I get older, the less equipment I seem to use, so by the time I meet the Big Man, I probably won't need anything special.