Nov./Dec. 2016 California Bountiful magazine
Story by Shannon Springmeyer
Chef's passion for sharing fresh flavors sends her around the world
Chef Joanne Weir has spent a lifetime sharing fresh, bright Mediterranean flavors with others, through culinary travel, cooking shows, cookbooks and classes. Photo by Thomas J. Story.
Joanne Weir just won't stop. The globe-trotting chef has won awards for just about anything one can do in the food world: as an author, a TV cooking show host, a restaurateur and a teacher.
"I have this incredible drive that keeps me going and looking and seeking," Weir said.
She tells the story of a lifetime pursuing good food and adventure in her new book, "Kitchen Gypsy" (see Book Reviews), and forthcoming PBS series of the same name.
It's a journey she began at a young age. Into Weir's earliest memories are woven the flavors of homemade, seasonal food. She recalls the chicken salad sandwiches her grandfather would make from hens he raised on his New Hampshire farm, fresh biscuits and homemade mayonnaise.
"I really did get very spoiled, and very early I developed a palate and loved food," she said.
Weir studied French culinary arts under the legendary Madeleine Kamman and soon after landed her dream job at the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. There she had an opportunity to explore the bright, Mediterranean flavors of top-notch, California-grown ingredients: figs, garlic, olive oil, farm-fresh vegetables, citrus and herbs.
Weir left after five years, but Mediterranean flavors followed her throughout her culinary career. She's stayed busy sharing her passion with others, teaching cooking classes on five continents, hosting several cooking shows, writing 18 cookbooks and numerous magazine articles, and opening a popular restaurant of her own, Copita, in Sausalito.
"I love getting people excited about food," Weir said. "You can teach people simple things and a few tricks, and they can turn out good food for their friends and their family. I think it's a really important part of life."
Spanish tortilla with spicy sauce
Almond, anchovy and fennel toasts
Roasted carrot hummus with vegetable chips
Warm olives with fennel and orange
Braised clams with preserved lemons and cilantro
Mushroom bruschetta salad