Chef’s Corner with Chris Kobayashi

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By: Inna Shamis

Talk about the fulfillment of a childhood dream! Executive Chef Kobayashi has turned his restaurant – Artisan – into one of the top thriving dining spots in Paso Robles, California’s hip new wine country!

Gaining extensive culinary experience in the kitchens of some of California’s best restaurants, Kobayashi’s experience ranges from Asia de Cuba at The Clift Hotel to Roy’s in San Francisco and Brix in Napa Valley. Along with brother/business partner Michael Kobayashi, whose background includes having been the “go to guy” for top performers in the music industry (we’re talking names like: Aerosmith, Mick Jagger, Def Leppard and Lisa Marie Presley – to name just a few), its no surprise that Artisan is at the top of everyone’s mind these days. Chris Kobayashi’s culinary expertise, coupled with Michael Kobayashi’s years in the entertainment industry has evidently given the brothers the finesse and flair to make it so!

Located just a few blocks off Paso’s award-winning downtown area, the 3100 square-food restaurant boasts an inviting décor of soft hues and dramatic black n’ white photography.

Featuring a seasonally-changing menu, highlights from the Chef include (but naturally not limited to): Garlic Stuffed Lamb Loin, Slow Braised Natural Beef Short Ribs and Crispy Gulf Brawns; and a selection of desserts that include: Crème Brûlée, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Marquis, a selection of fresh sorbets and the impressive West Coast Cheese Flights.

Follow us for an inside look with this culinary maestro:   

How did you get your start in cooking? Did you learn to cook at home? Where did you study?

My Grandma cooked most of our meals at home, which had strong Southeast Asian influences and she taught me how to make everything from fried eggs to complex curries. My Aunt owns a Thai restaurant in Beverly Hills and I spent a lot of time there learning kitchen dynamics from her. My first “job” was making petit fours for a wedding when I was 12. My first “adult” position was as a cook at a UCSD operated research station in Bishop.

I graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and I received my Baking and Pastry Certificate from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California.

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Have you traveled anywhere that has influenced your flavors and recipes?

I traveled a lot when I was younger, but now I really get my ideas from reading. I’m constantly reading food magazines and cookbooks from around the world.

If you were ever on Iron Chef, which cooking battle would you hope for?

After watching this show for many years, the one I wanted to be on was Battle Farmer’s Market.

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What’s an upcoming trend in cooking?

Going green. Local, sustainable and organic. This is something that we ( at Artisan) already put a tremendous amount of time, money and effort into. We feel really strongly about supporting local farmers that farm organically, as well as sourcing proteins that are hormone and antibiotic free, wild caught, sustainablyfarmed, etc

What’s your favorite indulgence food?

Really good BBQ!

What’s your favorite ingredient?

I really don’t have one favorite – truly, whatever is at it’s very best in season is my favorite at the time!

What’s the most exotic ingredient you’ve ever used?

Blanchan – dried fermented shrimp paste that is roasted to accentuate the flavor. This is used in Southeast Asian cuisine.

 

Name three things you cant cook without:

Butter, wine, salt (and my favorite knife).

Is there anything you won’t eat?

Insects.

If you didn’t do this for a living, what would you do?

I would always be involved in food in some way… but if it had to be something non-food related I would be a mountaineering guide. I love the outdoors and used to go hiking all the time. 

On your night off, where do you go to eat in Paso Robles?

Living in a small rural town with limited time off, I typically choose to eat at home with my wife and one-year old son. We mostly throw something on the grill.

Though, when we lived in the (San Francisco) Bay area we would go to Bouchon, Town Hall, Ton Kiang (dim-sum) and the Asian noodle houses in Chinatown.

It’s 2 a.m… you’re leaving work, where do you head for a cocktail or a bite to eat?

Again, small town – nothing is open at 2:00 a.m.! I enjoy a nice glass of wine when I get home.

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Artisan – A first-class establishment in every sense of the word – along with gustatory selections that rival some of LA’s and San Francisco’s best – Artisan takes classic comfort food and injects it with fresh and innovative ingredients and techniques. Chef Kobayashi shops daily at the local farmer’s markets and uses only organic foods and hormone-free proteins.

Make sure to get a taste of the Seared Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, served with fried green tomatoes, frisée and rémoulade. Follow that up with the Pan Roasted East Coast Dayboat Scallops served with potato risotto and maine lobster or the Colorado Lamb Chops with pea risotto, prosciutto and mint salsa verde. And, in the case you still might have room for dessert, you must check out the Coconut Sorbet with chocolate sauce – light but satisfying enough to finish the dining experience off just right!

Check out our podcast from Paso Robles–The Hip New Wine Country!

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