Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
May 7, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

The chefs’ slate at 2012 ZinFest Cooking School


It’s all about foods we love to eat with Lodi’s lush, juicy wines under the 2012 ZinFest Cooking School tent this coming May 19 in Lodi Lake Park.

The Cooking School will start off at 1 PM with Chef Fabrice Dubuc of Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant & Spa – which has been rated among the Top 10 Most Romantic Inns by American Historic Inns – who will be demonstrating the pissaladiere of his native Southern France.

What is pissaladiere?  Chef Fabrice tells us, “pissaladiere is a pizza dish made in the regions around Nice, Marseille, Toulon and the Var, and also in Southern Italy.  It is usually made with a bread dough like focaccia, with toppings such as a strong onion compote, cooked for several hours at low temperature.  Cheese and tomatoes arei not usually used in pissaladiere, although some bakeries and restaurants in Provence add a little fresh or roasted tomatoes to the dish.  Quite often you will also find Nicoise olives, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and moderate amounts of fresh anchovy paste.”

Dancing by Lodi Lake at 2011 ZinFest

ZinFest is also proud to host, for the first time, Chef/Owner Mark Berkner of Plymouth’s acclaimed Restaurant Tastethe winemaker hangout in the Foothills of Amador County.  Mark and his wife, Sommelier/Co-owner Tracey Berkner (who will be presenting a seminar on Lodi terroir in the Wine School tent), are extremely wine conscious when it comes to food, and the duck tacos he will be demonstrating makes a perfect match for Lodi’s spicier reds made from Zinfandel or Syrah.  At the end of this post you will find a recipe Chef Mark’s duck tacos.

Our 2012 ZinFest Cooking School schedule:

Chef Fabrice Dubuq

1 PM – Chef Fabrice Dubuc
Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant & Spa
Southern French Pissaladiere; demonstrated with the 2011 McCay Cellars Lodi Rosé.


2 PM – Chef Mike Midgley
Midgley Catering
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Chef Mike of Stockton’s Midgley Catering attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco; and as a former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” (Season 2), he know entertainment as much as great cooking.  Chef Mike’s sausage stuffed mushrooms will be demonstrated with the 2009 Michael-David Freakshow Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lodi's Molly Prima

3 PM – Chef Molly Prima
The Dancing Fox Winery & Bakery
Berry Almond Bliss
Rising star chef Molly Prima has recently become a fixture in several of Lodi’s venues; and for the first time, she will be demonstrating her remarkable pastry talent with the 2011 Dancing Fox Lodi Muscato di’Amore.

Mark Berkner, Restaurant Taste

4 PM – Chef Mark Berkner
Restaurant Taste, Plymouth
Duck Tacos; demonstrated with the 2009 Klinker Brick Farrah Lodi Syrah.

Mark Berkner’s Duck Tacos

2 cups water
1 cup ice
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar

12 each corn tortillas
2 each duck breast
2 oz plum sauce
1/2 head green cabbage – shred very fine (chiffonade)
1 each carrot  – julienne very fine
1 each jar (7 oz.) hoisin sauce
2 each garlic clove – chopped very fine
1/4 bunch mint  – shredded very fine (chiffonade)

In a medium sauce pan, heat water to boil, remove from heat add salt and sugar, stir 1 minute, and add ic.  Add duck breasts to brine solution for 2 hours; remove duck breasts and pat dry with paper towel.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a knife, score duck skin by making diagonal lines to create a diamond pattern.  In a medium sized oven proof saute pan at medium-low heat, add 1 table spoon of oil.  When oil is hot, add duck breasts skin side down for about 5 minutes to render the fat.  Place pan with duck breasts into oven for five minutes remove from oven and let rest for ten minutes.  Reserve the rendered duck fat (can be done 2 days ahead of time)

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons of oil.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until translucent.  Add hoisin to garlic and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add plum sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool in small bowl (can be done 2 days ahead of time).

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved rendered fat.  When the fat is hot, add one tortilla at a time, cooking tortillas to make shells for tacos drain on plate lined with paper towels.  Slice duck in very thin pieces and toss with the hoisin plum sauce.  Place in tortilla shell and top with green cabbage, carrots and mint.  Enjoy!




Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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