Chef teaches exotic spices

Celebrity chef uses authentic Chinese style during campus visit


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Chef Joey Altman pours sesame seeds atop a daikon salad during his Chinese-style cooking demonstration in the culinary arts demonstration classroom on Oct. 10. Altman is an award-winning chef and television host.

By Anthony Kinney, Advocate Staff

Award-winning chef and television host Joey Altman left a savory taste on the palates of those who attended his mouth-watering cooking demonstration for culinary arts students Oct. 10 in the Student and Administration Building.

The new state-of-the-art culinary arts demonstration classroom filled with taste-bud teasing aromas as chef Altman prepared Chinese-inspired dishes. The meals ranged from sesame daikon salad and duck liver sausage to Sichuan fried chicken.

“It’s new and exciting,” culinary arts major Christopher Williams said. “To have such a successful chef take time out to come in and talk to us is an amazing opportunity.”

The well-seasoned chef and host of numerous TV shows started the demo by giving praise to CCC’s “impressive” student kitchen and described how his journey also started at a community college.

“Anything is possible — it just takes dedication,” Altman said. “You’ve got to have the passion to be a good chef. You’ve got to have the desire to always want to make your customers happy.”

Classically trained in France, Altman became an executive chef at 25 for the Bay Area restaurant Miss Pearl’s Jam House.

From there, the chef opened Wild Hare Restaurant in San Francisco while being featured on television cooking shows such as The Food Network’s “Appetite for Adventure” and “Tasting Napa.”

During his Contra Costa College demonstration, Altman awed his audience (and their noses) as he prepared steamed Jasmine rice with Chinese duck liver sausage, shiitake, and shoyu in a clay pot, an old Chinese cooking tool that is similar to the crock pot.

Culinary arts major Marianna Romero said she enjoyed the demonstration because Altman’s choice of Chinese food promoted a variety of flavors and introduced students to spices they may not have known about before.

“I’ve never had duck liver sausage before,” Romero said. “It was pretty exciting to taste something like that.”

Altman shared kitchen tips with the students as they eagerly anticipated tasting the savory-smelling meals he prepared on the culinary art department’s kitchen demonstration table.

He told the students that the key to a great tasting meal is balancing the salt and the acidic flavors of the dish.

“If your dish tastes like it’s missing something, it’s probably salt or acidic-like vinegar, wine or lemon,” Altman said.

He also talked about how most people “eat with their eyes first” and the importance of having a variety of colors in one’s dishes.

Rhonnie Schwartz, a first year culinary arts major, said the demonstration has inspired her to become more aware of the colors different vegetables and fruits provide to dishes, as well as the flavors they produce.

Shirley Sanders, also a culinary arts major, said the demonstration was different for her but still fantastic.

Sanders said, “I wasn’t expecting the Chinese cuisine, but it was delicious. And it wasn’t your basic Chinese food either. It had flair to it.”

Sanders said she left the demonstration inspired to try these recipes in her own kitchen.

Sanders, however, wasn’t the only aspiring chef moved to incorporate these selections into her personal recipe book.

Williams said, “It was delicious. These are definitely new recipes I’m adding to my recipe book.”

Altman’s demonstration was just a tease for what he said can be expected from his current project as the culinary director for “ChinaLive,” the new upscale three-story Chinese restaurant that will open its doors in San Francisco in January 2017.