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David Bazirgan
BARAKA
288 Connecticut St.
San Francisco
(415) 255-0370

Biography »

Interview:
Amy Tarr: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
David Barzirgan: I spent summers as a dishwasher during high school and gradually learned enough to be promoted within the restaurant. I didn’t do very well in high school, didn’t leave my options open. We were always cooking food at home – both my parents cooked so I would help them. It just sort of developed from there.

AT: Which early job position and/or restaurant do you feel was most influential in shaping your culinary style and business philosophy?
DB: I learned a lot about pastas while working at Galleria Italiana with Barbara Lynch, but I think I really honed my skills when I worked for Barbara at No. 9 Park, where I worked for 5 years. I also learned a lot working at Olives with Todd English – it was his only Olives at the time. He purchased all of his produce seasonally and it exposed me to a lot of ingredients that I hadn’t seen before.

AT: How would you describe your cuisine?
DB: I’d call it Mediterranean food with French technique.

AT:Who do you consider your primary mentor?
DB: I’d say Barbara [Lynch] is my primary mentor. She taught me that technique isn’t everything. The end result flavor and texture is more important to me than how the plate looks.

AT: What chefs do you admire?
DB: I look to New York – Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Jean-Georges because he brought a strong Thai influence using flavors such as lemongrass. Daniel for continually coming out with refined French food that does not necessarily have unusual combinations but always raises the bar. Also Alain Ducasse – his is the type of food I love.

AT: Are there any unsung regional ingredients that everyone should know about?
DB: I like to use ground sumac – it’s got a nice, acidic flavor and can be used in place of juice when I want to start the cooking of a fish or meat. It has a nice amber red color and is used in place of lemon in the eastern Mediterranean. I use it in a couple of marinades and to season the lamb tartare – it really brightens up the meat.

AT: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
DB: A Japanese mandoline – I use it for fine and really thin layers of cuts. Also a mortar and pestle because we ground so many different spices.

AT: What advice would you give to aspiring young chefs?
DB: Make sure that this is really what you want! If you don’t love it, forget about it. And read as much as possible. Expose yourself to different options in the culinary food – becoming a chef isn’t for everybody – there are so many options in the field.

AT: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
DB: Who’s your favorite chef in New York and why? I think New York is a mecca. There are just so many chefs to embrace and such great things are happening there. I think all young chefs should spend time in New York – at least go out and eat there. The availability of ingredients is amazing.

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David Bazirgan
BARAKA | San Francisco

Many a great chef has gotten his start by washing dishes, and David Bazirgan is a prime example, dunking his hands in the suds at the age of 15 in his native town of Newburyport, MA. Working for Boston celebrity chefs Barbara Lynch and Todd English, Bazirgan learned early on what it means to be a part of a winning team. From Chef English he gained an understanding of layered flavors; from Chef Lynch he developed his exacting technique and appreciation for hyper-seasonal menus. Two years ago, Bazirgan brought his passion and experience to the San Francisco culinary scene, first at Elisabeth Daniel and then at Baraka, where he has given Moroccan and Spanish classics a refined edge. Like his mentor chefs English and Lynch, Bazirgan has learned the art of successful restaurant multi-tasking, overseeing the kitchens of Baraka, Chez Papa and La Suite, all of which are owned by restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow.

 

La Belle Farms Foie Gras Torchon with Brûléed Figs,
Ras al Hanout Gastrique

Chef David Bazirgan of Baraka – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 6-8 Servings

Ingredients:

    Foie Gras:
  • 1 (1 ½ pound) lobe "A" grade foie gras
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sel rose
  • 2 fluid ounces sauternes
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    Gastrique:
  • 1 cup fig balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon ras al hanout (allspice may be substituted)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
    Figs:
  • 16 ripe Black Mission figs, cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
    Additional Garnishes:
  • Chopped chervil
  • Grilled walnut bread

Method:

For Foie Gras:
Allow the foie gras to sit out for 2 hours at room temperature. With curve of spoon, scrape foie gras off veins, set cleaned foie gras aside, and refrigerate. Discard veins and blood. Combine sea salt, sugar, sel rose and sauternes with foie gras and refrigerate. Marinate for 24 hours. Pull foie gras out of refrigerator and lay cheese cloth on counter. Arrange foie gras on one end in cylinder shape, about 2 inches in diameter, and roll with cloth from one end to other as tightly as possible. Using 2 pieces of twine, tie each end of cloth. In a pot, bring water, bay leaves, and thyme to a boil. Place foie gras in water and reduce heat to a light simmer. Cook for 90 seconds. Using tongs, remove foie gras and shock in ice bath. Leave in bath for 10 minutes. Remove and ring out water from both ends. Lay out towel and roll again. Tie again on both ends, leaving one length of twine a foot long. Hang in the refrigerator overnight. Foie gras will be ready to serve in 24 hours. When ready, cut off twine and remove the towel and cheese cloth, leaving only the foie gras. Wrap foie tightly in plastic until ready to serve.

For Gastrique:
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and reduce by half over low heat. Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

For Figs:
Sprinkle sugar over figs, one at a time, and brûlée with torch until golden brown.

To Assemble and Serve:
Slice the foie gras into desired thickness using a warm blade and place on chilled plates. Place 2 figs on one side of foie gras and drizzle gastrique on the other. Sprinkle foie gras with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and garnish with chervil. Serve with grilled walnut bread.

 

Wine Pairing:
Quady Elysium Black Muscat, Central Valley, California, 2004

 

Interview Cont'd
AT: Is there a place that you want to travel to for culinary researching purposes? Why there? Which place that you’ve already been to has had the greatest impact on your menus?
DB: I definitely want to go all over Spain but haven’t had a chance yet. I’d like to go to Japan, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. Before I open my own place I want to do expanded travel and research for a while in order to figure out exactly which way I want to take my food.

AT: What are your favorite restaurants in San Francisco?
DB: I like Thep Phanom for Thai food and Delfina for simple Italian.

AT: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry right now?
DB: I wouldn’t necessarily call it a new trend but a lot of people are doing sous vide cooking. Right now I don’t use the technique much in my cooking but I plan on using it more. I’d start out with a cheaper one because we don’t really have a huge equipment budget.

You can get a small cryovac machine for a few hundred dollars. I plan on using it with foie gras to prevent moisture loss - also fish, meat, storing vegetables to freeze them and use them in the middle of winter, mushrooms.

AT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
DB: Right now I’m running three restaurants for Jocelyn Bulow – Baraka, Chez Papa and La Suite – and I plan on doing this for a few more years. They’ve given me a great opportunity.

AT: How do you manage being at three places at the same time?
DB: I have strong sous chefs at all three restaurants. I come in and make sure that things are going well and help with prep before service. Baraka was the first place I started at. I’m excited to do new things and I obviously like to keep very busy. And I’m happy to be chosen for the award. It’s nice after working really hard to get exposure and recognition like this.



   Published: October 2005

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