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David Gilbert New Chef at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk


David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk has announced a change to the hotel’s culinary program and its signature restaurant, Citrus. David Gilbert, a StarChefs.com “Rising Star,” has been named the executive chef, and will supervise all culinary operations.

Gilbert brings with him a wide array of culinary works, including international tenure at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Vermeer in Amsterdam. Gilbert has worked in the kitchens of the The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta, and the The Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other pursuits include time as the executive sous at the Inn at Perry Cabin by Orient-Express, where Gilbert initiated a fresh farmers market menu that gleaned national recognition. He was named chef de cuisine at St. Louis’ Eau Bistro in Missouri and executive chef of the Beverly Hilton’s landmark restaurant.

In Texas, Gilbert was at Luqa in Dallas, and at Sustenio at Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa in San Antonio. For his work at Eilan, he was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a 2013 Best Chef Southwest Semi-Finalist. Most recently, he pursued his passion of Southeast Asian cookery and in the same year opened Tuk Tuk Taproom.

Gilbert’s addition will usher in a new restaurant concept and menu, which will be formally announced in the coming weeks. “We could not be happier as we add Chef Gilbert to our Valencia family and can hardly wait to see what he has in store for our guests,” says Chad Taylor, Hotel Valencia general manager.

Gilbert replaces Robbie Nowlin, former head chef, who recently stepped down to focus on his philanthropic efforts within in the community.

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Tuk Tuk Taproom Offers a Feast for the Eyes and Taste Buds


Bahn Tom Ha Noi are yam and shrimp fritters you fold up in a lettuce leaf and top with herbs and fish sauce.

Bahn Tom Ha Noi are yam and shrimp fritters you fold up in a lettuce leaf and top with herbs and fish sauce.

Time is running short on Culinaria’s Restaurant Week, which runs through Saturday. There’s still time to grab the special dinner at Tuk Tuk Taproom, which runs long on flavor.

Chef David Gilbert’s menu is a feast of small plates worth sharing. He presents a riot of colors, Asian-infused flavors and textures, all of which are perfect with many of the beers available, such as the Hitchitano Nest Real Ginger Brew or the light, seasonally welcome Wasatch Apricot Hefeweizen. If beer’s not your think, try the Proseccco on tap or the kombucha that’s made specially for the Taproom.

Rather than sing the hymns of the many dishes we sampled, here are photos of several to whet your appetite. Surprising flavors abound, but for this one time, we’ll let the photos do the talking.

 

Ya Rou Mian is a crispy noodle salad with tofu, Sichuan chiles, scallions and a sesame-soy dressing.

Ya Rou Mian is a crispy noodle salad with tofu, Sichuan chiles, scallions and a sesame-soy dressing.

Gat Tod Samoon Prai is Thai-style fried chicken with lemon grass and other seasonings.

Gat Tod Samoon Prai is Thai-style fried chicken with lemon grass and other seasonings.

For an extra $10, you can add a plate of pork belly to your table.

For an extra $10, you can add a plate of pork belly to your table.

Kaeng Matsaman Curry featured stewed lamb in a sauce with potato, eggplant, clove, cinnamon and peanuts.

Kaeng Matsaman Curry featured stewed lamb in a sauce with potato, eggplant, clove, cinnamon and peanuts.

Che Chuoi Chung is a refreshing mix of poached bananas, tapioca pearls, coconut soup and litchi.

Che Chuoi Chung is a refreshing mix of poached bananas, tapioca pearls, coconut soup and litchi.

Tuk Tuk Taproom
1702 Broadway(210) 222-TAPS (8277)
tuktuktaproom.com

 

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Tuk Tuk Taproom to Serve Up Some Asian Street Food with Beer


Chef David Gilbert, who opened Sustenio at Eilan Hotel Resort and Spa with Stephan Pyles, is teaming up with Steve “Beard” Newman from the Friendly Spot Ice House and Alamo Street Eat Bar on a project that will pair Asian street food with beer.

David Gilbert (left) and Steve "Beard" Newman are teaming up on Tuk Tuk Taproom.

David Gilbert (left) and Steve “Beard” Newman are teaming up on Tuk Tuk Taproom.

The project, called the Tuk Tuk Taproom, will be at 1702 Broadway, north of the the downtown area near the Pearl Brewery.

Expect a menu inspired by many of the dishes Gilbert encountered on his trips through Southeastern Asia, journeys that he related in his book, “Kitchen Vagabond.”

Gilbert and Newman have been at work developing the beer list, which is being selected to partner with the food. Plans are for 60 taps, which will include non-alcoholic offerings as well as beer.

According to a press release announcing the restaurant, “The combination of street food in Asia and beer is the most common food and beverage pairing amongst the locals” across the Pacific.

No opening date has been set yet.

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Three from San Antonio Among James Beard Semifinalists


Semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary world’s equivalent of the Oscars, were announced Tuesday, and the list includes three from San Antonio.

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., was included on the list of Outstanding Service in the entire country.

Included in the list of semifinalists for Best Chef in the Southwest are Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn, 152 E. Pecan St., and David Gilbert, who recently left Sustenio at Éilan Hotel, 17101 La Cantera Parkway.

Michael-Sohocki-300x295

Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn.

A number of other Texas chefs are included in various categories across the list of semifinalists. Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin and Stephan Pyles Restaurant in Dallas are on the list for Outstanding Chef nationwide.

How many of the semifinalists will make it to the finals will not be known until March 18. The awards will be presented in New York on May 3 and 6.

For a full list of the semifinalists, click here.

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Santa and the Flavors of the Season Fill Eilan, Sustenio


Eilan in Gingerbread.

The sights and aromas of the season are filling Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway.

Pastry chef Keith Cedotal teaches Alexander (left), Peyton and Genesis.

The lobby has a large replica of the hotel made in gingerbread by pastry chef Keith Cedotal, who works in the resort’s restaurant, Sustenio.

Cedotal had some help in creating the house. A few would-be pastry chefs, Alexander, Genesis and Peyton, pitched in to help with the creation. They were chosen from a drawing of kids who wanted to help out. Their labor of love will be on display throughout the holidays.

Sustenio’s executive chef, David Gilbert, will be helping people with their holiday entertaining by offering a cooking class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The cost is $75 a person and lunch is included.

The restaurant is also offering Breakfast with Santa Claus from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday. The cost is $16 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

For reservations for either event, call (210) 598-2950.

 

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‘Food Is Always Changing and Moving Forward,’ ‘Kitchen Vagabond’ Author Says


Chef David Gilbert has written a food memoir, “Kitchen Vagabond.”

“What’s your favorite dish?”

It’s a question chefs get asked over and over again, so often, in fact, that many no longer give the matter any real thought. But David Gilbert isn’t like most chefs. His take on the question led him on a journey that resulted in the book, “Kitchen Vagabond: A Journey Cooking and Eating Beyond the Kitchen” (Infinity, $27.95 hardback, $17.95 paperback). In it, he talks about his culinary adventures and includes a few recipes he’s picked up over the years that feed both body and soul.

Gilbert wears another hat. He’s also the chef at Sustenio in the Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway.

But it was the book that he wanted to focus on in the following conversation:

Q: You’ve recently written a book, “Kitchen Vagabond.” What disciplines, if any, that you learned in the kitchen helped you when writing?

A; I could have never written this book had I not been taught by my parents the mentality to work hard for what you want, and always follow through. The book writing process is a challenge in self-discipline, much like perfecting the culinary craft. I took the same focus to writing — and completing — “Kitchen Vagabond” as I do with projects in the kitchen. For me, this meant relentlessly pushing hard every single day and never loosing focus on the end goal. There were a lot of uncharted waters in learning how editing, book layout, publishing and distribution work. It was all foreign to me, but humbled myself and took a step back to learn to take a step forward to grow.

Q: Your book is about your culinary journeys around the world and dishes you’ve discovered along the way. What dishes have you learned since your move here?

A: San Antonio shocked me with the amount of its deep-rooted culture that makes this city so wonderful! There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of off the beaten path restaurants! I have recently been introduced to the famous puffy taco and from what it sounds like my new local friends have more treats to introduce me to.

What are yours? Please let me know! Email me at eauchef@yahoo.com.

Q: What culinary journeys do you have planned for the future?

A: There is no shortage of destinations I would like to experience, starting with Vietnam (one of the few Asian countries I did not have the chance to visit while living/traveling in Asia), Southern India, Nepal, Israel, and Egypt. I am currently holding a multiple entry visa into Brazil (a trip I had to cancel last minute) so, who knows what’s next?  Guess we will just have to see!

 Q: What food trend or trends are you excited about these days?

A: Food, as we know it, is always changing and moving forward. However, the refinement and flare of avant-garde cuisine is still there — there has been a slow shift in delivering simple and familiar foods with the edge of avant-garde presentation.

The most current trends, I feel, are more in the crossover between the kitchen and the beverage program. Chefs are getting involved to assist with flavors and modern techniques. For example, we slow roast pumpkin with clove, all spice, and cinnamon for our bar team for the rum-pumpkin cocktail. The truly chef driven magazines, blogs and information emerging are all pushing the incorporation of chef-driven ingredients into the mixology forefront.

Q: And, in honor of what prompted the book, what are your favorite dishes?

A: The idea for “Kitchen Vagabond” came as a response to the question, “What’s your favorite dish?”

All over the world, people select foods, they cook and they eat. We all receive an early education in these processes, based mainly on where we live and on our national history and culture. I didn’t imagine until well into my teens that I would embark on a career that would direct my restlessness towards what other people cook and eat, how they do it, and what it tastes like. If we are interested and attentive, we cannot separate a dish from the people, places, and events that create the sensory experience of its taste. The ingredients, the preparation and the satisfaction of eating a favorite dish have been the vehicles for me to reflect on the developing flavors of my life. Currently my favorite dish is green papaya salad — sitting on the Kata Beach, Thailand. Now that hasn’t always been my answer, as my environment has changed so has my answer, and I bet by the time I am done traveling and experiencing more of those countries we just talked about then, perhaps, my answer may change.

 

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Bacon and Eggs Like You’ve Never Had Them


David Gilbert cooks his scrambled eggs slowly — and in pork fat.

Chef David Gilbert had never tasted pork until he was 19 years old. Then, while away from home to study at Johnson & Wales culinary school in Charleston, S.C., he found himself biting into a pork chop at a soul food kitchen near the school.

It was a life-changing experience. “It took a moment to determine if I had committed an enormous sin or had just been transported to heaven,” he remembers. “I decided, after 19 years without pork, that I now knew what ecstasy felt like.”

That story is but one of the culinary odysseys that Gilbert, now head chef at Sustenio in the Eilan Hotel Resort and Spa, recounts in his new book, “Kitchen Vagabond: A Journey Cooking and Eating Beyond the Kitchen” (Infinity, $27.95 hardback, $17.95 paperback).

And it led up to a recipe that Gilbert shared in a cooking demonstration he offered at the Pearl Farmers Market, an unusual but welcome take on scrambled eggs.

Like many recipes, the chef’s version has evolved over time.

It began with his father, who would, whenever Gilbert’s mother wasn’t watching, use butter in the pan and whole milk  in the egg mix, thereby creating a richness that the future chef appreciated.

David Gilbert and Christina Narvaiz, line chef at Sustenio.

He watched his father closely and learned to whisk the eggs gently with a fork, not a whisk. He also saw that it was important not to rush the eggs as they cooked. “That is my little secret,” he says. “I believe in slow cooking because it gives the eggs the opportunity to coagulate and the natural proteins to slowly set.  There is nothing worse than dry scrambled eggs.”

But Gilbert’s recipe took a turn in an entirely new direction after he headed to South Carolina for school. One morning, after a forgotten night of drinking, he found himself staggering to the kitchen, trying to step carefully around a handful of co-eds sprawled all over the floor. Once he made it to the kitchen, he tossed a chunk of sliced bacon into the pan and let the fat render slowly. Once the meat had crisped up, he removed the strips and then started to cook the eggs in the leftover fat.

The end result was a hangover cure as effect as San Antonio’s menudo. Though science may disagree, both are so good that you forget the hangover and concentrate on the restorative powers that the flavors of both dishes provide.

The crowd that had gathered at the Pearl open kitchen area hung on Gilbert’s every word and even applauded as he added more milk to his egg mixture and more pork fat to the eggs as they cooked. The end results were delicious, thanks in part to the fact that the pork he used was from South Texas Heritage Pork, which sells its meat at the market.

During the demonstration, Gilbert crumbled up the bacon, not too finely, and returned the pieces to the eggs before serving. He also topped the dish with chopped parsley to add both color and flavor.

Southern Hangover Cure (or Bacon and Scrambled Eggs)

1 pound sliced bacon
12 whole eggs
2 ounces whole milk
1 pinch of black pepper
Room full of co-eds, optional

Heat a large cast-iron skillet on medium-low heat; add the sliced bacon. Break apart the bacon with a whisk (in my case) or, properly, with a pair of stainless steel tongs. Remove bacon to drain excess fat (on a paper towel), once crispy.

Crack one dozen eggs into a bowl, add a splash of milk, whisk gently. Add to bacon fat; slowly stir with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with black pepper. Watch football the rest of the day and try to figure out what occurred the night before.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Kitchen Vagabond: A Journey Cooking and Eating Beyond the Kitchen” by David Gilbert

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Get Grilling with Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert


Stephan Pyles

Want to pick up some grilling tips before the Fourth of July?

Chefs Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert are hosting a summer smoking and grilling class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Sustenio, which is in the Eílan Resort Hotel & Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway.

The menu will include:

  • Passion Chile Margarita
  • Smoked Tomato Gazpacho with Goat Cheese-Horseradish Panna Cotta and Olive Oil Powder
  • Grilled Watermelon-Arugula Salad with Soft Shell Crab, Queso Fresca and Tomato-Ginger Jam
  • Watermelon Rind Pickles
  • Molasses Grilled Quail with Corn Pudding Tamales and Morita Salsita
  • Rosemary-Citrus Grilled Peaches with Jamon Serrano Ice Cream

Tickets cost $75 a person. For reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

 

 

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Stephan Pyles Brings His Brand of Southwestern Cuisine to San Antonio


Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles is known as one of the progenitors of the Southwestern cuisine movement, which introduced all corners of the nation to a host of beloved dishes, including the cowboy rib-eye and a variation on the caesar salad that includes a welcome kick of chili powder and a jalapeño polenta crouton. Together with Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks, Dean Fearing and Robert Del Grande, he made sure people came to love a new balance in their food, through the lively addition of heat and other regional ingredients, thereby broadening their palates.

Now, he’s bringing those flavors to San Antonio in Sustenio, a new restaurant that anchors the Éilan Hotel and development off I-10, near Fiesta Texas.

Sustenio isn’t about blazing new culinary trails in a city known for its Tex-Mex and Texas cuisine, Pyles insists.

“I would never say that I was bringing (Tex-Mex) to San Antonio,” he says. “Here you have a wonderfully rich Hispanic culture. I think, at Sustenio, the food I’ll be doing will have some unexpected twists, but it will be food San Antonio is comfortable with.”

That includes a parade of his greatest hits, including tamale tart with Gulf Coast crab and that Southwestern Caesar.

Diners will also get to sample various styles of ceviches from the raw bar that’s part of the restaurant’s big open kitchen.

Passion fruit margaritas at Sustenio

“I like to do ceviche with a lot of different flavors and colors, like a tasting tray of eight different ceviches that looks like a rainbow of color,” he says.

He starts each variation with sashimi-grade seafood. Then he takes a fish, such as Texas flounder, and pairs it with avocado and tomatillo for a soothing green color, while ahi tuna could be paired with chile and golden tomato for a sunburst yellow flecked with red and Ecuadorian rock shrimp are marinated with orange and popcorn.

Each is refreshing and welcome on a hot day, while sitting on the restaurant’s spacious patio or at the community table near the raw bar. Both  overlook the kitchen, with its brick oven, which is used for pizzas. The rest of the menu includes poblano-asiago soup with golden pepper foam, a tamal made with seared foie gras and corn pudding, coriander-cured rack of lamb with Ecuadorian potato cake, bacon-wrapped Devine wild boar loin and Texas beef tenderloin with modern chiles en nogada.

Meanwhile, there’s a colorful bar area where the staff will be creating a vast array of liquid favorites, including several of Pyles’ signature cocktails. One is the Piña Diablo, which mixes three types of rum, fresh pineapple, piloncillo, mint, serrano chile and vanilla; another is a passion fruit margarita with both sugar and a serrano pepper on the rim on the glass.

Pyles, known to many from his PBS series, “New Tastes from Texas,” was born in Big Spring, to the west of Dallas. He made his start in the restaurant business in the 1980s before opening Star Canyon in 1994. The restaurant put him on the nation’s culinary map and earned him accolades from many in the national media.

The wine tower at Sustenio

His focus these days has been on his eponymous restaurant in Dallas as well as Samar by Stephan Pyles. His food has also evolved, incorporating flavors from his global travels into its decidedly Texas base. Many of these dishes are, after all, taken from what he grew up and provide a level of comfort that can’t be beat.

Though he has a host of commitments from his other restaurants and his charity work, Pyles plans on spending every weekend in San Antonio at the beginning, then cutting back to every other weekend. The rest of the time, Sustenio will be under the operation of executive chef David Gilbert, who has been working at Pyles’ side for several years. Local favorite Philippe Placé is general manager.

When Pyles is not working, he’s often found working for charity, such as Share Our Strength and UNICEF, both of which were given generous checks raised at Saturday night’s grand opening. His efforts for these non-profits mean a great deal to him. That includes the annual awarding of the Stephan Pyles Scholarship, a $15,000 gift that is given to a top culinary school student. Mention the effort and his usually easy-going speech suddenly takes on a greater excitement at the thought of the number of chefs in the making he’s been able to help.

One of the big fundraisers benefiting the scholarship fund is a dinner in which the previous year’s winner joins a lineup of elite chefs, including San Antonio’s Jason Dady, to prepare a multi-course dinner. Last year’s winner was a student at the San Antonio campus of the Culinary Institute of America.

A chef at Sustenio makes shrimp ceviche.

In the meantime, Pyles’ attention is on launching Sustenio successfully. It’s been more demanding than creating a gorgeous restaurant, from the private dining room in the glassed-in wine cave to the tower of bottles that dominates one end of the dining area. Living up to the name has meant forging relationships with area farmers, ranchers and other food producers, so that the kitchen offers a high level of sustainable foods, from bison to honey.

The region has a greater wealth of foods to choose from when compared with Dallas, he says, which makes it especially attractive to food lovers, whether they chefs or merely eaters.

“I’m thrilled to be in San Antonio,” he says.

Sustenio at the Éilan Hotel, 17103 La Cantera Parkway is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

Chefs work their food stations at the Sustenio grand opening.

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