Only one event remains for Greens Restaurant’s popular Summer Dinner Series in San Francisco. Featuring three accomplished Bay Area women chefs, the Dinner Series is meant “to foster unity and culinary exploration”. In this case, this year’s guest chefs present inventive and flavorful cuisines from Native America, West Indian and Ethiopian cultures. In addition, Greens Restaurant is donating a portion of its proceeds to benefit Foodwise. With all this in mind, take a look at the highlight’s from last week’s dinner from 2022 James Beard-nominated chef Heena Patel.
Greens Restaurant Summer Dinner Series
Led by Executive Chef Katie Reicher, Greens Restaurant features three San Francisco Bay Area chefs for this year’s Summer Dinner Series. The first of the three dinners brought in Chef Crystal Wahpepah of her namesake restaurant Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Oakland. Born and raised in Oakland, she was the first Native American chef to compete on Chopped, the popular show on the Food Network. Most recently, Chef Wahpepah was a 2022 James Beard finalist in the Emerging Chef category. Next month, Chef Adiam Tsegaye of Mela Bistro in Oakland will present the last of the three special dinners. Specializing in modern Ethiopian cuisine, Mela Bistro is among the East Bay’s best restaurant. Each of the dinners are $120 per person with an optional wine pairing.
About Chef Heena Patel
A native of Gujarat in Western India, Heena Patel is the executive chef and owner of Besharam. Chef Patel got her start in the San Francisco foodie scene after graduating from La Cocina Culinary School. However, as a lifelong vegetarian, she had long had a passion for healthy cuisine. Her first restaurant was Rasoi, in San Francisco’s Mission District. The growing success of that eatery led her to open Besharam in 2018. Known for Chef Patel’s creativity in providing delicious Gujarati cuisine, the restaurant quickly gained widespread recognition and rave reviews. In fact, the following year, Eater San Francisco named Besharam its restaurant of the year. What’s more, Chef Patel was a semi-finalist in this year’s James Beard Awards for Best Chef: California.
Chef Patel’s First Course – Sabudana Khichdi
Chef Patel’s first item was a surprise amuse-bouche of sev puri crackers with three delicious Gujarati fillings. However, as good as the delightful surprise was, the first course really helped establish the evening. A popular street food found in Gujarat, Sabudana kchidi has main ingredients like potatoes and peanuts. On the other hand, Chef Patel elevates her take with sweet potatoes, tapioca, roasted peanuts and topped with edible flowers. As a result, the dish was so exceptionally delicious, one could presumably ask for a second helping. Wine paring for this gluten free, vegan dish was a sparkling Asti Spumante from the famous Piedmonte region of Italy.
Chef Patel’s Second Course – Makai Handvo
Another very popular traditional Gujarati dish is Makai Handvo. A vegetable cake made with cornmeal, rice and lentils, Chef Patel’s version is an inspired delicacy. In addition to steamed corn and Opo squash, she introduces coriander chimichurri and heirloom peppers. With all this in mind, it’s amazing how delicate this presentation was. Of course, it was also amazingly tasty, particularly when adding a dab of the sauce. Furthermore, with no empty seats in sight, the enormous task of serving several dishes was quite impressive. You can credit, Chef Patel, her staff and Greens Restaurant’s dinner staff for expertly making this happen. The Makai Handvo came with an optional wine pairing of a Riesling-Pino Gris blend from Napa Valley’s Robert Sinskey Vineyards.
Third Course From Chef Heena Patel – Moong Dal & Navaratan Korma
This third course of Chef Patel’s fabulous dinner was her pièce de resistance of the evening. In this case, must have more than one server to assist you at your table. To put it differently, you are served not one, but three separate dishes. For one, you have Khichiya rice crackers, Basmati rice and parathas (flatbread). For the others, you have two curry dishes with braised veggies known as navratan korma. Blended in a creamy sauce, both were extraordinary accompaniments to the rice crackers, rice and flatbread. When combined together, you had to wonder whether you would be able to finish the grand finale dessert. By all means, you could also have the optional Grenache blend from France-based Domaine Pinelli.
Chef Patel’s Fourth Course – Pistachio Kulfi Affogato
In case you haven’t had affogato once before, most likely you would love this flavorful treat. Indeed, as a popular Italian treat typically served with espresso and vanilla ice cream, it’s quite delectable. With this in mind, Chef Patel’s dessert recipe was absolutely divine. Yet before you could indulge yourself with a bite, your server had to pour Masala chai onto the kulfi ice cream. Even if you felt full from the first three courses, you just had to have a taste or three. This superb dish was paired with nocino, an Italian liqueur. Of course, you could also ask for coffee, espresso or anything else to your likings. Lastly, if you think this all sounds fabulous, you must visit Chef Patel’s Besharam restaurant.
About Greens Restaurant
2 Marina Blvd.
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
A landmark vegetarian restaurant, Greens Restaurant was among the earliest purveyors of the 1970s farm-to-table movement. Originally a part of the San Francisco Zen Center, Greens has been credited for bringing vegetarian restaurants to the global forefront. In fact, the New York Times says Greens was the restaurant to establish green-centric cuisine in America. Since its opening in 1979, Greens has held the same bayside location at historic Fort Mason. Over the years, the restaurant has been known for its illustrious women chefs, including founding chef Deborah Madison. Two years after its opening, Annie Somerville took over as executive chef in a position she held for 37 years. Succeeding the renowned chef was Denise St. Ong until her departure in 2020. Today, Greens Restaurant is led by executive chef Katie Reicher. With the prestigious Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park on her resume, Chef Reicher continues the culinary legacy. That legacy includes distinctions like being mentioned among the best restaurants in America. Unsurprisingly, Greens is also listed in the California Michelin Guide. Earlier this year, Chef Reicher helped create the Summer Dinner Series. A native of New York state, she has had a working relationship with Greens since 2015.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012