Celebrity chef Joanne Weir is coming to Eureka next month to host a dinner and present a program for members of PBS North Coast and their guests.
The Oct. 1 event — set for the Ingomar Club’s Carson Mansion — also serves as a fundraiser for the local public television station.
Weir — whose show, “Joanne Weir’s Plates and Places,” is currently being shown on PBS North Coast — is also an international cooking teacher whose passion for good food has inspired her travels in France, Germany, Italy, Morocco and Greece.
And now she’s coming to Eureka for her first-ever visit to the North Coast.
“I have lived in California for almost 30 years and have never been to this part of Northern California and am excited to be there,” she said.
While in town, Weir will preside over the specially designed dinner for PBS North Coast. For the past month, she has been coordinating the evening’s menu with Ingomar Club Chef Dan McHugh. All selections will be made using Weir’s recipes.
“The food I cook is predominantly Mediterranean,” she said. “I love anything from Spain, Morocco, Provence in the South of France, Italy, Greece and the Middle East. I love anything using olive oil.”
To kick off the night, Weir will meet guests at a pre-dinner Rufino Prosecco reception where her cookbooks will be available to purchase and for autographing. She will then host the dinner, sharing stories and recollections along the way.
The meal begins with Rice Olives and Fig Jam and Fresh Goat Cheese Toast hors d’euvres. The four-course menu with chef-selected wines includes Fried Oyster “Caesar” Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Honey-Pecan Butter, Beef Tenderloin with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Almond and Chocolate Semifreddo. An alternative entree, Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Green Beans, is available for those who do not eat beef.
Weir — whose cookbook titles include “Kitchen Gypsy,” “Cooking Confidence: Dinner Made Simple” and more — has an impressive culinary resume. In fact, it seems, she was born into the culinary scene. Weir’s great-grandmother operated Pilgrim’s Progress in Boston in the early 1900s. This legacy was passed down to her grandfather, then to her mother and now to her.
“My mother was my mentor,” Weir said. “She was a professional cook along with my grandfather and great-grandmother. Cooking was an integral part of growing up. My mom and dad were incredible gardeners and, growing up in New England, everything was seasonal. My grandfather had a large dairy farm in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. He was also a phenomenal cook who made every single thing from scratch. We would go to his house for picnics under the maple trees. He made chicken salad sandwiches and he would have butchered the chicken, made homemade mayonnaise, homemade rolls and served the sandwiches with homemade potato chips. For dessert, he hand-churned maple walnut ice cream with maple syrup he made and walnuts from the trees on the farm. I thought every kid ate like that. Then, I went to school and snapped into reality.”
Weir’s professional training includes a year of full-time study and apprenticeship with Madeleine Kamman in New England and France after which she was awarded a Master Chef Diploma. She then worked for five years at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
“I loved every moment,” she said of her time at the award-winning Bay Area restaurant. “I always tell people it was like working at the Harvard of restaurants. Everyone who worked there had the same philosophy, was so passionate and also experienced. I learned a lot.”
A James Beard-award winning cookbook author, Weir is also the recipient of the first Julia Child Cooking Teacher Award of Excellence. She has been featured on a variety of television shows and writes for an abundance of national magazines and newspapers. She is also a partner in Copita, a modern Mexican restaurant and tequileria in Sausalito, and tours and teaches throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and France.
“We cook together in lovely kitchens, we wander out to wineries to enjoy special tasting and lunches al fresco, we visit olive oil mills and cheese makers, rice growers,” Weir said of her classes. “I share experiences that you can’t find in travel books, but experiences I have gathered after years of visiting these special places.”
The PBS North Coast event, the third of its kind in so many years, was conceived by the late Marge Custis who, while vice president of the board of directors of KEET-TV, proposed the fundraiser to benefit North Coast public television.
The inaugural event, 2016’s “Dinner with Nick Stellino,” was a sold-out success, as was the 2017 gathering featuring New Orleans Chef Kevin Belton.
“To have nationally and internationally recognized professional chefs come to our special corner of the world is delicious in so many ways,” said Cindy Denbo, current vice president of the PBS North Coast Board of Directors. “Our guests enjoy a great evening, of course. And, our visiting chefs are enthusiastic visitors, interested in who we are, what we do and what we like to eat.”
Tickets to “Dinner with Joanne Weir” are $150 each, including tax and gratuity. Members and guests can make reservations by calling PBS North Coast at 707-445-0813 or emailing email@example.com. For more information about the event or how to become a member of PBS North Coast, go to www.pbsnorthcoast.org.
“Our dinner with a chef known for her dedication to public television and its audience is a fine way to support PBS North Coast while relishing the flavor of international cuisine and the unique qualities of the North Coast,” said PBS North Coast Director David Gordon. ”Delicious and entertaining, an unforgettable dinner and great company … this will be a very special evening.”