A Tower of California Cuisine to Cook at Parkway Grill

Photo courtesy Sam Hannah Jeremiah Tower
Photo courtesy Sam Hannah
Jeremiah Tower

Those who enjoy California cuisine will have a chance to enjoy offerings from one of culinary style’s pioneers — Jeremiah Tower — when he serves as guest chef at Parkway Grill during a three-day window in November.
The renowned Bay Area chef, whose past enterprises include the famed Stars restaurant that got its start in San Francisco, will lend his skills to Parkway Grill’s kitchen from Nov. 6-8, replacing the restaurant’s dinner menu in its entirety during that span and mixing in choice offerings with the usual lunch menu. Tower is known for popularizing California cuisine, which emphasizes using locally produced, sustainable ingredients to match the season of the region.
“It’s going to be very nostalgic but exciting for me,” Tower said in a telephone interview. “I’ve been on a bit of a tour. It’s going to be great to be back in a kitchen like that. It’s going to be a lot of work and it’ll be great.”
Gregg Smith, owner of Parkway Grill, said Tower simply took American cuisine and “California-ized it,” a feat he accomplished without formal culinary training. Tower’s menus were once described by Anthony Bourdain as “a complete re-evaluation of not just American food and ingredients — but food.”
“He started a culinary revolution,” Smith said. “He’s smart. He just had the skills.”
Some of the dishes available for this special event include a teaser of oyster tartare with California caviar; appetizers of smoked sturgeon with quail eggs, brioche and caviar crème fraiche and wild mushroom soup with fresh pea timbale; main courses like lamb shank with rosemary-garlic roast potatoes, fondue of olives and fresh mint aioli and bacon-roasted salmon with artichokes and salted lemon relish; and desserts such as autumn fruit warm compote with caramel mascarpone cream and dulce de leche ice cream with espresso affogato.
“What I did was send a list of about a hundred dishes from my book and said, ‘Why don’t you guys just choose, because you know what you’ve got,’” Tower explained, citing details like kitchen layout and varieties of dishware as factors in culinary planning.
Tower will be Parkway Grill’s second guest chef this year, after the restaurant hosted chef Ken Frank several months ago for a guest stint. Smith, who is revisiting a practice he did earlier in his restaurant career, said he’s known Tower for years and sent him an email on a whim about coming back to Pasadena for a few days.
“I just thought one day, ‘What about Jeremiah?’” Smith explained. “He’s out of his restaurants. He’s consulting. I haven’t seen him in 20 years. So I just emailed him.”
Tower said he was happy to have gotten the invite from an old friend.
“All these years later, to reconnect was pretty amazing,” he said.
For reservations, call (626) 795-1001.

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