Real Food Chefs who are revitalizing Sierra Foothills dining

Meet the chefs, restaurateurs & caterers in the Sierra Foothills who are revitalizing dining in our Sierra FoodWineArt special report:

Ike Frazee
Ike is the chef and owner, along with his wife, Adrienne, of Ike’s Quarter Cafe in Nevada City. Now in its 11th year, Ike’s is a favorite for New Orleans-style cuisine, made with fresh ingredients from local farms—all listed on a colorful chalkboard inside the restaurant.

Menu specialities include Po’ boy Deluxe; Muffuletta (pronounced “muff-u-LOT-uh”); Gumbo; Vegetarian Jambalaya; Red Beans and Rice and more.

Growing up in Nevada City, Ike worked in many local restaurants, including the kitchen of Peter Selaya (now co owner of the New Moon Cafe, across the street).

Ike later moved to San Francisco to attend the prestigious California Culinary Academy. He also worked at the famed Tassajara bread bakery while in San Francisco.

Ike sums up his food like this: “Serve organic locally grown foods made from scratch that you can feel good about eating.”
401 Commercial St., Nevada City

Peter Selaya
Peter and Buzz Crouch are co-owners of the New Moon Cafe in Nevada City.

We consider Peter the dean of real food cooking in the foothills. He was cooking with fresh organic food long before it became fashionable.

Peter’s passion for cooking came from his dad, a longtime chef at well-known San Francisco Bay Area restaurants. He learned to trim meat at the age of seven (and there’s a picture in the kitchen to prove it).

“I’ve been cooking my whole life,” says Peter, whose creativity and flair with cooking has been an inspiration to other local chefs (Ike Frazee and Stephen Cicatelli, among them).

Big-city dining with a small-town atmosphere best sums up their restaurant. Foodies from San Francisco and Los Angeles (including our guests) regularly are “blown away” by the quality of the cooking.

The restaurant’s menus change with the season; and the wine and beverage menu, and the dessert menu, changes with each full moon (literally). The wine list (Buzz’ forte) is exceptional.

Menu items might include homemade Ravioli; Roast Beet Salad; Raspberry Duck (seared Muscovy Duck with Raspberry-Cognac compote over a wild rice pancake); Chimichurri Flatiron (a grass-fed Flatiron Steak) and Wild Fish (the freshest, wild, line-caught fish available).
203 York St., Nevada City

John Kane

Editor’s note: John Kane passed away unexpectedly in July, but his influence in revitalizing Sierra Foothills dining will continue.

John is chef and owner of Kane’s Family Restaurant in Grass Valley, where you can see him seven days a week. John has a distinguished culinary career. He worked at the University Club in San Francisco, one of only five chefs in its 118-year history. He also was the chef for the San Francisco Giants, among other positions.

A fourth-generation San Franciscan, John grew up eating and working at Original Joe’s, a landmark restaurant famous for its homestyle Italian-American cooking. John followed his heart to Grass Valley, where he met Maria Ramos, his true love and business partner.

After moving, John opened Kane’s to provide fine dining. (Maria owns Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Grass Valley, which serves authentic Mexican food).
120 East Main St., Grass Valley

Susan and Angie Purdy
Susan Purdy, her daughter Angie, and her husband, Frank Cooney, own Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro in Grass Valley.

Susan and Frank have more than six decades of combined restaurant experience between them. The dinner selections draw from Susan’s background as a French chef and are influenced by Frank’s favorites from his family’s Italian- style restaurants in San Francisco and San Jose.

The menu includes fresh fish specials, Italian meatloaf, lasagna, prime rib and ravioli and pasta. Breakfast at Tofanelli’s is one of our favorites.
302 West Main St. Grass Valley

Matt Margulies
Matt, an affable and knowledgeable restaurateur, owns Matteo’s Public in Nevada City. His pub, housed in a Gold Rush-era brick building in the historic downtown, is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors.

Matt’s restaurant reflects his own skills and experience: working at popular restaurants with “good eats” and being a self-professed “beer geek.”

The menu features fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and grass-fed beef.

We like the Gruyere Pub Burger, Fish and Chips and Pulled Pork sandwich. Matteo’s specializes in craft beers, and some rotate with the season. Examples include Mammoth 395 IPA and Auburn Ale House “Gold Digger” IPA.
300 Commercial St., Nevada City

Amy Cooke
Amy Cooke is a chef and owner of Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli in Grass Valley. Amy has long been a proponent of using fresh, organic ingredients. Back in the ‘80s, when she was chef at an inn outside Santa Fe, Amy grew her own herb garden. Amy and her husband, Chamba, team up with local farms (such as Boxcar Farm) to supply their restaurant with fresh, local produce.

Summer Thyme’s sandwiches are piled high with all natural ingredients. Breakfasts come with local, organic eggs. Chile is made with grass-fed beef.

“People used to know where their food came from, and it tasted better,” says Amy. “We believe strongly in bringing that back.”
421 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley

Delia Gutierrez
Delia Gutierrez and Dave Francis own Las Katarinas restaurant in Nevada City. Delia received her culinary training in Mexico City. She exemplifies a chef who has brought authentic ethnic cuisine to the foothills.

The menu at Las Katarinas (spanish for “ladybug”) is pure Mexican. Dishes include pork chile verde, carne asada and tinga (shredded beef in a chipolte sauce).

The desserts include flan made from a century-old recipe, with homemade caramel. All of Las Katarinas dishes are made from scratch.
311 Broad St., Nevada City

(photo credits: Lisa Redfern)

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