A Sea of Salmon and Smiles


We love you. I can't tell you how much Osa, Osito, myself and the rest of the Cow by Bear gang appreciate your support in our little dining experience experiment. It's grown to a point I never imagined when we first opened up in my apartment, and you are to thank for that. There's nearly 10,000(!) on the receiving end of this Bear's Necessities newsletter now, and we're so grateful to have you as part of our Bear family. 

This is the time of year I always find myself thinking about my favorite cousin Ricoand how we tragically lost him during the great 'Salmon Stall of '94.' When I shared his story last year, a frequent guest and Cub Club member made an incredibly kind gesture by making a donation to the Salmon Defense Fund in cousin Rico's name (thanks Steph!). I was very touched and vowed to do what I could to help the salmon and keep cousin Rico's spirit alive. Salmon are such an integral part of bear life, and you may be surprised how vital they are to the entire ecosystem.

We'll be donating $1 for every ticket sold in both San Diego and Seattle from now until Labor Day to the Salmon Defense Fund in honor of cousin Rico. We've added many summer dates in both locations, so take a look at the up-to-date calendar at cowbybear.com and come spend an evening with us! 

Upcoming openings are:

San Diego: Saturday June 2 / Wednesday June 13 / Sunday June 17 / Saturday June 23  / Wednesday June 27 / Thursday June 28 / Saturday July 7

Seattle: Saturday June 2 / Thursday June 14 / Thursday June 28 / Saturday June 30 / Saturday July 7 / Friday July 20

Bear TV

Those who know me know me as a pretty bashful bear. I politely decline most media requests, simply because I'm often unsure of what to say and what to do with my hands. One of my New Year's resolutions was to overcome this fear by saying "Yes" more.

I recently appeared on two TV segments that you can check out below. The first documents a Cow by Bear dinner, and the second is a cooking segment where I make my favorite new menu item, the Sea of Smiles. It's a loose take on a classic Thai dish, khanom jeen, and I've provided the recipe below. I actually had a lot of fun and think maybe I'll even keep saying "Yes" more often!

Sea of Smiles

Sea of Smiles (Feeds 4)

1 package thin rice noodles
8 large fresh prawns, marinated
4 c coconut broth*
2 c pineapple broth*
2 c pickled mustard seed*
4 tbsp crispy shallots*
4 tbsp thinly sliced scallions
4 tbsp thinly sliced thai chilis
1 lime, half juiced half cut into wedges

for the coconut broth
2 cans coconut milk
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp salt
1 inch ginger, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped
2 lime leaves

for the pineapple broth
4 cups pineapple juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp white sugar

for the pickled mustard seed
4 tbsp mustard seed
3 c rice wine vinegar
1 c sugar
1 c water

crispy shallots
2 c raw, very thinly sliced shallots
4 c canola oil

For this dish you'll want to start with the crispy shallots so you'll have the reserve oil to marinate the prawns with, and the pickled mustard seed as it needs a couple hours.

pickled mustard seed:
1. Combine the vinegar, sugar and water in a sauce pan. Put mustard seeds in a jar or other heatproof container.
2. Bring vinegar mix to a boil for 10 seconds, then pour over mustard seeds.
3. Refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is best).

crispy shallots:
1. Cut the shallots using a mandolin or crazy sharp knife and slice as thin as possible.
2. Put the room temperature canola oil and the shallots into a pan on the stovetop.
3. Turn the heat on high and continually stir the shallots, gently, in the oil.
4. The shallots will first bubble off all water content and then fry, about 8-10 minutes. Keep stirring or else they'll be unevenly cooked and/or burn. You will want to fry them until you think they are just underdone, pale golden in color, because they will continue to cook out of the oil.
5. Take the shallots out and spread them on paper towels in as thin of a layer as possible, and salt them liberally. 
6. Let cool and they're ready. Make sure to reserve the oil in the pan to marinate the prawns.

prawn marinade:
1. Marinate the prawns with the lime juice and reserve shallot oil, at least two hours before cooking.

coconut broth:
1. Simmer the coconut milk, palm sugar, salt, sliced ginger, garlic, smashed/chopped lemongrass and lime leaves all together for about 60 minutes on a very gentle simmer. You don't want to reduce the broth, just let all the flavors get to know each other. Strain and set aside for later.

pineapple broth:
1. Combine the pineapple juice, fish sauce and white sugar and reduce by half. Cool in the refrigerator until use.

Sea of Smiles:
1. Cook the thin rice noodles al dente, coiled into nests, and cool.
2.  Heat the coconut broth over low heat in a pan so it's ready to go.
3. Remove prawns from the marinade, salt liberally, and sauté on each side on high heat until orange and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes.
4. To assemble, place a nest of rice noodles in a bowl. Arrange 1 tbsp each of chilis, scallions, pickled mustard seeds and lime wedge in their own little sections next to the noodles. Pour one cup of the hot coconut broth over the noodles. Then place two prawns on top of the noodles. Finish with a small spoonful of the pineapple broth and a pinch of the crispy shallots.
5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Oh Osito!


Happy May Day humans! I’m pawsitively stoked about our going ons at Cow by Bear. We've rolled out new Spring menus in both San Diego and Seattle and I think it's some of the best food we've ever served.

Collabearating with Osa and Osito is a dream come true, and it's been especially rewarding to see our cub, Osito, grow as a chef and bear. It's amazing to watch him balance it all; being a chef, going to school and trying to just be your average teenage bear. Osa and I fantasize about handing Cow by Bear over to him some day, retiring on the beach and devouring salmon by day and sitting back drinking Loco in Acapulcos by night. It will be in great paws when that time comes, but for now we're so enjoying working together as a family and seeing Osito shine.

He's provided a few of his latest creations below. Enjoy!

Osito's Green Eggs & Ham

for the pea and parmesan broth    1 tbs olive oil 1 large onion 2 celery stalks 2 large carrots 1 bunch green onions 8 cloves garlic, minced 8 sprigs fresh parsley 8 sprigs fresh thyme 1 tsp salt (more to taste) 2 quarts water 2 three-inch rinds of parmesan cheese    cavatelli pasta or your choice eggs to poach   3/4 lb prosciutto to bake   For this dish, you can choose your favorite type of pasta and most shell varieties work great. I prefer cavatelli. Cook the pasta to the instructions on the packaging.   Pea and Parmesan Broth  1. Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1 inch chunks. 2. Heat oil in a soup pot. Add the vegetables and herbs. Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  3. Add salt, water and parmesan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard the vegetables.   Crispy Prosciutto  1. Preheat oven to 350. 2. Place prosciutto on baking sheet and drizzle with oil. 3. Bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.  To assemble, pour the hot broth over your pasta. Garnish with crispy prosciutto and a  poached egg. 

for the pea and parmesan broth
1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
2 large carrots
1 bunch green onions
8 cloves garlic, minced
8 sprigs fresh parsley
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
2 quarts water
2 three-inch rinds of parmesan cheese

cavatelli pasta or your choice
eggs to poach

3/4 lb prosciutto to bake

For this dish, you can choose your favorite type of pasta and most shell varieties work great. I prefer cavatelli. Cook the pasta to the instructions on the packaging.

Pea and Parmesan Broth
1. Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1 inch chunks.
2. Heat oil in a soup pot. Add the vegetables and herbs. Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. 
3. Add salt, water and parmesan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard the vegetables.

Crispy Prosciutto
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place prosciutto on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
3. Bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.

To assemble, pour the hot broth over your pasta. Garnish with crispy prosciutto and a poached egg. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Fields Forever

for the sponge cake
8 eggs, whites and yolks separated
5/8 c sugar, plus 1 1/2 tbsp
finely grated zest of one lemon
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

for the strawberry rhubarb butter cream
8 oz. butter, softened
1 lb. plus 5 oz. powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
8 oz. strawberry rhubarb jam

for the candied rhubarb
simply syrup

creme fraiche
micro basil

This dessert has made it's way on both the dinner and brunch menu at Cow by Bear in San Diego. Give it a whirl at home!

Sponge Cake
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed half sheet tray with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Add the 5/8 c of sugar and mix on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until pale and thick. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and sift the flour and salt directly over the egg mixture in two batches and sprinkle in lemon zest, folding through the mixture after each addition. 
3. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Whisk on medium high until soft peaks form, then slowly pour in the 1 1/2 tsp of sugar. Continue to whisk until firm peaks form, then slowly fold a third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated.
4. Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Even the surface out with a small spatula and bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
5. Remove from oven and cool about 5 minutes. Place a clean kitchen towel on top of the cake and flip it over so its now lying on top of the towel. Carefully peel away the paper and trim the very edges of the cake. Starting at the shorter edge of the cake, carefully roll it up (along the kitchen towel). This is to train the cake for rolling up again later after its frosted. After about 20 minutes, unroll the cake.
6. Frost the cake evenly and liberally with the butter cream, roll up the cake slowly and carefully, and even the frosting as needed. 

Strawberry Rhubarb butter cream
1. Combine ingredients in eclectic mixer with paddle attachment, mix until smooth.

Candied Rhubarb
1. Preheat oven to 175.
2. Slice rhubarb thinly on mandolin and soak in simple syrup
3. Place rhubarb on a parchment paper lined sheet tray and bake for approximately two hours, or until simple syrup is absorbed.

To assemble, smear strawberry rhubarb butter cream on a plate in a desired quantity and fashion. Place a piece of cake on the center of plate. Place a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche next to cake. Garnish with candied rhubarb and micro basil.

Four Paws

I love this simple little cocktail. Use your favorite tequila, or mezcal if you like it extra smoky. We prefer using Bee Local's Smoked Honey Sauce, but you can also use a simply honey syrup and it will drink very smooth on a nice Spring day.

fresh ginger, sliced
1.5 oz tequila or mezcal
1/2 oz smoke honey or honey syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Cut up three slices of fresh ginger and muddle in a Boston shaker. Add the booze or your choice, then add the honey sauce (or syrup) and lemon juice. Shake vigorously and strain in a double rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist (and candied ginger if you'd like) and drink up!

Swinging Into Spring

Welcome to Spring, humans! Where I sit it's currently 42 degrees and it snowed yesterday, but pay no mind to that. Clean off the grill and polish your best set of tongs, because it's grilling season if you ask me! I have a couple days off and am enjoying a mini Spring Break, hiking along the Oregon Coast touring the state's oyster farms and Pinot vineyards. I hope you're all able to get away at some point this Spring, recharge the batteries and do something that makes you happy.


Bear's 3rd Annual Bracket Challenge has come to an end, and what an exciting tournament it was with the upsets and Cinderella stories. I haven't had that much fun with the game since the Great Alaskan Pop-A-Shot contest when I was a cub. I may not been a winner on the scoreboard that afternoon, but I won in other ways. I'll never forget those life lessons.

Congratulations to our bracket winner, Steviejiii, who finished in the 99.9th percentile across the nation. Steviejiii takes home two tickets for an upcoming Cow by Bear dinner! Lindsay the Bracket Slayer had not only a fantastic name, but also the second best bracket of the bunch and takes home two tickets for an upcoming Brunch by Bear or $200 towards any other event. Finally, FluxxMeSideways finished third and will receive two tickets to Wine by Bear or $100 towards any other Cow by Bear event. Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone for playing!


In case you missed it, I am delighted to now be offering the Cow by Bear service as a private catering experience. I'd be honored to be part of your next big party, so shoot me a message at bear@cowbybear.com and let's plan it together!

Bear's Bracket Challenge is Back!


It's that time of year again where we all gather around a portable radio to listen to our favorite bear-mascot teams attempt to cut down the nets on their way to the NCAA college basketball championship. I can only imagine the elation the next champs will be feeling in that moment. It's my hope the winners of the 3rd Annual Cow by Bear Bracket Challenge will share in that same joy.

Just click here to join the Cow by Bear group and make sure to share with your friends!

1st place: Two tickets to Cow by Bear dinner experience.
2nd place: Two tickets to Brunch by Bear experience OR $200 gift certificate.
3rd place: Two tickets to Wine by Bear experience OR $100 gift certificate.

Good luck!


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Introducing the Cub Club!


I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! For those of you that have been around here a while, you probably know my origin story; how I lost my parents to poachers at a young age, was bear-napped and eventually paraded around for years in a traveling circus. Eventually, I was able to escape to France where I had what I refer to as my "awakening," when I began to walk, talk and cook.

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Since then, I've no doubt had a blessed and entertaining life cooking all over the world, but while I've bounced from country to country I've often felt overcome by what's missing; namely, a family. Of course, when family literally came knocking at my door, I didn't quite know how to handle it. 

With that background, imagine how grateful I am that so many of you have come into my life at the Cow by Bear experiences, becoming new friends and yes, even family. I wanted to express this gratitude and make our club a little more official. It's in that spirit that Osa, Osito and I are happy to introduce the 'Cub Club,' designed to bring the most devoted Cow by Bear supporters further into the family circle. The club will continue to evolve as we move forward but here's the deal...

'Cub Club' Rewards & Benefits:
1. Exclusive emails about last minute reschedules (no more months-long wait!) with a 20% discount on these seats.
2. 20% off all merchandise.
3. An official 'Cub Club' badge.
4. Invitation to an annual 'Cub Club' dinner with special menu and unique venue.
5. Entered into quarterly drawing for free merchandise.
6. Chance to have a cocktail named after you.

How to join the 'Cub Club:'
1. You've been to three or more dinners. (If you've been to two, come on back and we'll have a special induction ceremony for you!) OR
2. You've been to a dinner in both San Diego AND Seattle OR 
3. You've been to all three Cow by Bear experiences (Dinner, Brunch by BearWine by Bear) in San Diego. Don't worry Seattle, we'll be adding those experiences down the road!

We'll be reaching out soon if you've already qualified for the 'Cub Club' or if you're knocking on the door of eligibility. Thank you - we couldn't be more excited to have you in the club!

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Cow by Bear now offering catering!


It'll be summertime before we know it, and as you know I'm not much of a hibernator. If anything, I like to double down on my activity, get outside and bask in the sun and all it's glory. It's that time of year that many of you humans are planning your big summer events - be it a wedding, rehearsal dinner, or just a big ol' fashioned birthday bash. Whatever the event may be, I'd love to be part of it!

Cow by Bear is now offering catering services at these special events. Please reach out at info@cowbybear.com if you'd like to discuss your party and how we can make magic together.

Loco in Acapulco


Osa, Osito and I were able to escape to Acapulco for some much needed R&R a few weeks ago, and let me tell you; I got into it! I'd been kicking around the idea for this cocktail in my head for months, and it finally came together while south of the border. That night, cocktail in hand, I was treated to an intimate show by a few remaining members of the Four Tops. You haven't lived until you've heard "Loco in Acapulco" live.

2 oz tito's vodka
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz ancho reyes liqueur
1/4 oz simple syrup

1. Salt half of one double rocks glass with chipotle salt rim.
2. Pour all ingredients into a Boston shaker over ice.
3. Shake for 10-20 seconds and strain into glass over ice. 
4. Garnish with a lime wheel.
5. Drink responsibly.

Dear, Mama Bear.


I created this dish while living in Italy at a time in my life where I was really missing my Mama Bear. It was developed in her honor as a love letter of sorts. I have fond memories as a cub of tearing into the tents of unsuspecting humans and coming back to Mama Bear with cans of Chef Boyardee spaghetti. It was her favorite, and something I loved to surprise her with. I like to think she'd enjoy this even more.

5 lbs fresh bucatini pasta
1 lb crab meat
50 oz canned san marzano tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1/4 c chopped garlic
1 tbsp red chile flake
2 tbsp salt plus more for pasta water
micro basil

1. Heat olive oil in a deep pot or dutch oven. Sauté onions until soft, then add garlic and chile flake and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
2. Add tomatoes, a cup of water and the salt, and simmer on low for 1 hour.
3. Taste, adjusting seasoning, and blend in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender.
4. In a large pot of heavily salted water (it should taste like the sea), boil the pasta until al dente.
5. Drain and transfer to sauce pot, turn on the heat, add the crab and cook until everything is hot.
6. To serve, grab pasta with tongs and twirl to make a nest on each plate. Then ladle remaining sauce on top and garnish with micro basil and a drizzle of your fanciest olive oil.

4th Planet From the Sun


I developed this recipe during my stint cooking on a recent mission to Mars. Okay, okay, I've not been to Mars, but it's definitely on the short list! Who wants to go with me?

for the soup:
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground vadouvan curry
1/4 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
pinch of ground cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken broth
1 c red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste

for pickled cauliflower
2 c water
1 c vinegar
1/3 c sugar
3 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
6 green cardamon pods
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 tsp tumeric
3 lb head of cauliflower

for green harissa
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced
2 small scallions, sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves w/ tender stems
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fine sea salt


1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
5. Reheat soup if necessary and stir in lemon juice. 
6. Serve with a good olive oil, pickled cauliflower and green harissa.

Pickled Cauliflower:

1. Cut cauliflower into small florets.
2. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil and pour over cauliflower.
3. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours and eat within a month.

Green Harissa:

(Prep ahead if possible as it will last for 5 days)
1. Lightly toast cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Let cool.
2. Purée seeds with jalapeños, scallions, garlic, oil, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. 
3. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface of harissa, cover and chill until use.

More Cake in '18

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Hello humans, Happy New Year! 

2017 was quite the year at Cow by Bear. We saw our family grow with the opening of our Seattle location and the Wine by Bear experience in San Diego, added ten new friends to the staff and partied with thousands of you amazing homosapiens. We continue to constantly tweak the dinner experience to make it the best it can possibly be, and my Lil' Osito Bear is making exciting strides with Brunch by Bear. While I can't wait to see what 2018 brings, I've been reflecting a lot on last year and want to thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and willingness to come out and be a part of something different. We've met so many fantastic people and it just makes this bear's heart sing. To express my gratitude, I wanted to send out a digital hug and offer a 10% discount for anything in our Cow by Bear Shop (gift certificates included) from now until the end of February. Just enter BEARHUG at checkout!

With the turn of the new year comes a lot of resolutions. I've personally always struggled to keep mine - learn to bobsled, hibernate, pursue ventriloquism. The list is long of my tried and failed resolutions. So this year, I've decided to try something more practical that I knew I'd be able to keep up with, and I'd humbly suggest you give it a try:

Eat. More. Cake.

I know what you’re thinking: “But, Chef Bear, how am I going to shed all the pounds I put on from the holidays by eating cake?” It's a valid question that I don't have the answer to (I'm just a bear, after all). I can tell you, however, that it's working wonders for me. I just continue to slap on the LBs and I gotta tell ya I've never been happier and have never felt better. Fat and happy, as they say.

So give it a try. Sit down and just eat a whole cake. Trust me, it'll put a smile on your face. I'll even get you started with a recipe for a recent concoction that you can even pair with an ice cold beer. Enjoy!



for cake
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown butter
1 1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1/3 c grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

for jalapeno pepper jelly
4 1/2 c finely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 c finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 1/4 c cider vinegar
3 tbsp powdered pectin
2 c sugar
1 c honey

for cream cheese frosting
1/2 c butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

crispy bacon broken into small pieces, to taste

For the cake:
1. Combine the sugar and butters in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, and cream for 2-3 minutes on medium-high. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs. Paddle for 2-3 more minutes then scrape down the sides again.
2. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla all at once while mixing on low speed. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 5-6 minutes. The mixture will almost double in size and become very pale. Keep mixing if it has not, and then scrape down the sides.
3. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. While on the lowest speed, add the cake flour, baking powder and salt all at once and mix for about a minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Mix again on low speed for another minute until all dry ingredients have been completely incorporated. Using a spatula, slowly fold in the bacon.
5. Grease a quarter sheet pan, line with parchment or a silicone mat, and pour the bater evenly into the pan.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is set in the middle and no longer jiggly. Cool on a wire rack.
7. When cool enough to build, use a small cake ring to cut rounds out of the pan. If you can only get 2 circles, then use the scraps to make up the bottom layer (if you want three layers, which you do!)
8. Layer the cake in this order: cake, cream cheese frosting, jalapeno jelly, cake, frosting, jelly, cake, frosting, bacon sprinkled on top.

For the jalapeno pepper jelly:
1. Combine bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and vinegar in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly. 
2. Add sugar and honey. Return mixture to full rolling boil. Boil hard 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Let chill to room temperature.

For the cream cheese frosting
1. Combine butter and cream cheese in mixer fitted with paddle. Mix on medium speed until well smooth.
2. Add sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add more or less sugar to taste.

To Assemble: Layer the cake in this order: cake, cream cheese frosting, jalapeno jelly, cake, frosting, jelly, cake, frosting, bacon sprinkled on top. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

That Time I Cooked For Santa


Have I ever told you about the time I cooked for Santa? Long, long ago I was visiting family back in Alaska for Christmas. My cousins and I were in the middle of an intense game of 'Caribou Eyes' when we heard a crash louder than a hundred thousand ladies screaming at a Nickelback concert.

We made our way through the thick Alaskan brush and could tell we were getting closer, for the air became thick with the unmistakable scent of booze. As it turned out, Santa and Mrs. Claus had been going through a rough patch that particular season, and Santa had hit the hot buttered rums pretty hard before he and the reindeer set off on their mission. They'd barely even made it out of the North Pole before the sleigh came tumbling back down to earth. Upon our discovery as we finally came to the clearing,  a singular name we all exclaimed: "Santa!" A shout came from above: "Bears!" We looked up and found the poor guy holding onto the branch of a Douglas Fir for dear life. It took a little coaxing, but once we had him down and back at camp, it became painfully clear the old man needed a little TLC.

"Bear," he began, "my little mishap has set me back hours, and I'm afraid I've lost the pep in my step to make up the time. But I've heard about you. Word has spread across the globe that your magic in the kitchen can revive and rejuvenate. Can you help me, Bear?" Luckily I had the fixings for a carrot bisque, and my cousin Herb donated some pork belly from his swine farm to complete the dish. We fed Santa and his reindeer, warmed and sobered him up, and helped fill his sleigh with the necessary Christmas spirit. I named the dish 'Bisquey A Go Go,' in honor of getting Santa back on the move and saving Christmas. And that's the story of how this little number came to be.

You can find it on the current menu at Cow by Bear San Diego or make it on your own with the recipe below.



for carrot bisque
1/2 lb butter
2 onions, chopped
3 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 bottle dry white wine (or try Mead)
6 c chicken stock (richer the better)
2 c heavy cream
splash cider vinegar
salt, pepper, nutmeg

for braised pork belly
1 large carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 c high-quality cider
small splash vinegar, plus extra to season
4 1/4 c chicken stock
2.5lbs unscored boneless pork belly
2tbsp sunflower oil

for caraway cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp caraway seeds
salt and pepper

For the carrot bisque:
1. In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter, onions and garlic. Stir often until onions are limp. Add wine (or mead). Reduce by half then add stock, carrots and season with a hefty amount of salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced.
2. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Do not fill the blender more than half way (blend in batches if necessary). Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender (use a kitchen towel to hold lid down). Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add cream and stir over high heat until hot. Add the splash of cider vinegar and season to taste.

For the braised pork belly:
1. Day 1: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the pork belly ingredients except the pork and sunflower oil in a flameproof pan that will fit the pork snugly - a casserole dish is idea. Season, bring everything to a boil on the stove then turn down the heat to low and slide the pork into the pan. The pork should be totally submerged. Top with water if needed. Cover the dish with a lid or tight tent of foil and place in the oven for 3hrs. undisturbed. 
2. When the pork is cooked, leave it to cool slightly in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film. Carefully lift the pork into the tray and make sure you get rid of any bits of vegetables or herbs as they will end up pressed into the pork. Cover the pork with another sheet of cling film and cover with a flat tray or dish (the tray must be completely flat as any indentations will be pressed into the pork). Weigh the pork down with another dish or some cans and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. Strain the juices into a jug or small saucepan, cover and chill. 
3. Day 2: Unwrap the pork and place on a board. Trim the uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat. Cut the meat into equal pieces and set aside until ready to cook. Life off any bits of fat from the braising juices and tip what will now be jelly into a saucepan, then bubble down by about two-thirds until starting to become slightly syrupy. Add a few drops of vinegar, to taste.
4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan until hot, then turn the heat down. Add the pork to the pan, skin-side down. Be careful as it has a tendency to spit. Sizzle the pork as you would bacon for five minutes until the skin is crisp. Flip it over and cook for 3-4 minutes until browned. 

For the caraway cream:
1. In a saucepan, toast caraway seeds until fragrant. Add heavy cream and gently bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely in the refrigerator 2 hours or overnight, whip and dollop on just before serving.

To Assemble: Serve the carrot bisque in a bowl and top with the pork belly then a dollop of caraway cream. Delicious extra garnishes are: pumpernickel bread crumbs, micro sorrel, dill, pickled onions and diced apple.


Thanks so much for following along on the 'Bear's Necessities' newsletter! I hope you get as much out of reading it as I do writing. This is the place to get priority access on all of our announcements. I'm happy to say we will be hosting a special New Years Eve dinner in both San Diego and Seattle locations this December 31! As usual, each dinner is reserved for just 14 guests and will begin at 8pm. Price is $250/person. The dinner portion of the evening will wrap around 11pm, and we'd love you to stick around and celebrate the new year with us until 1am! Dinner is five(+) courses with paired fine wine and will include champagne at midnight and a few other surprises along the way. Tickets can be purchased here for San Diego and here for Seattle. Act fast as I expect this to sell out quickly!


I'm excited to have launched our website redesign this morning, which includes our new and improved shop! To celebrate and get into the Christmas spirit, everything in the shop (including Gift Certificates) is 15% off from now until end of day December 15. Just enter the code BEARDOWN at checkout!

Speaking of pricing, we need to make a small adjustment in cost for the dinner experience in San Diego by raising the ticket price to $195. Here's why: several months ago I made a change that resulted in both service fee and tax being inclusive in the ticket price, whereas before they were an additional charge. This has made it a cleaner process for guests, as it's just one flat fee and takes away some of the confusion that was present before. I decided not to increase the price at the time, but with this additional cost we are absorbing as well as rising costs from suppliers, it's necessary I make this adjustment in order to keep the dinners going. The price will remain $175 until January 1 and then increase that day. Seattle cost per ticket remains $195 and I intend to keep both locations at that price for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your understanding on this, and please reach out to me at bear@cowbybear.com with any questions!

Turkey Day Stories + Recipes

Hello my fabulous human friends! As I sit here watching the rain trickle down on a fog covered lake just outside of Seattle, I can't help but wonder whatever happened to Thanksgiving. These days I barely have time to put away my Don Flamenco Halloween costume before being bombarded with Christmas decorations and ads about black Friday and cyber Monday. Sale, sale, sale! Maybe I’m biased - being a chef and all - but that just ain't right. This is the one holiday devoted to remembering where you come from, who's been part of that journey and shamelessly stuffing your face, of course! There's simply nothing better than that.
One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was during my first year as an accidental chef in France.  As it turned out, the French have another word for this holiday -"jeudi," or simply, “Thursday.” I wanted to recreate the grand feasts I had growing up on Kodiak Island for my new friends, but finding all the fixings was more challenging than I had anticipated in a place that survives on butter, chocolate and bread (have I mentioned I love the place?). Needless to say, I had to get creative with some of my family’s old recipes, of which I'm including a couple below. To me, that’s what this day is all about; sharing what you have and know with family and friends. Oh, and the aforementioned shameless face stuffing, obviously. 

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Speaking of family, many of you are so sweet and continue to inquire about if and when I'll be seeing Osa and Osito. Sure enough, I've arranged for the three of us to rendezvous at a top-secret location near Lake Tahoe for a few days of fishing, foraging and bear-back bobsledding. It'll be the first time Osito has seen snow and I can't wait to get into a family snowball fight whilst teaching him the dangers of the yellow snow. After fishing with my paws and jaw all my life, I've recently been introduced to the wonders of a fishing pole and my oh my has it changed my life. Osa will be bringing her Dutch oven for bread and desserts over the fire, just like her father used to during their winters in Whitefish. As for Osito, he's been foraging his little heart out and promises to serve up all the fruit, veggies and weeds we desire. When all is said and done, we'll each bring offerings to the table made from the number one ingredient: LOVE.

Have a great Thanksgiving, friends. 

Fun fact: sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing. They each have their own identity, but because of improper labeling at grocery stores they get confused with one another. But, hey, after you top them with marshmallows does it really matter?

Yam, Bam, Thank You Ma'am

8 (6 oz.) yams
1 c upsalted butter
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
mini marshmallows (as many as you'd like)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the yams crosswise into ¼-inch slices, leaving about ⅛ inch intact at the bottom. Place the yams on an aluminum foil–lined baking dish; cover tightly with foil. Bake until slightly tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the sage in a large skillet over medium and cook, stirring often until golden, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove foil. Brush half of the butter mixture on the yams so it seeps in between the slices.  Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until tender, about 1 hour. 
4. Turn the broil function on in your oven. Wedge the mini marshmallows randomly between the slices and watch closely as the marshmallows will brown fairly quickly. 
5. Remove from the oven and brush the remaining sage butter over the tops and sides. Enjoy!


I came up with this when a truck-load of figs from Toulouse showed up at our restaurant one day. The chef wanted something interesting on the cheese board that night - a twist on a classic flavor. These babies are great on their own, paired with cheese, or as a funky substitute for cranberries on your Thanksgiving table.

Pickled Figs

1 lb. fresh figs*
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c sugar
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 allspice berries
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick

*A note on the figs: Figs are still available in the Seattle area but word on the street is they are now hard to find in San Diego. You can sub with dried figs, but you may need to cook a little longer on day two. Just make sure they are nice and soft.

1. Bring vinegar, 1 cup of sugar and the salt to a simmer in a small but heavy pot. Add the allspice berries, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover the pot and remove from the heat, allowing the spices to steep for 10 minutes.
2. Add the figs to the pot and return it to a simmer, uncovered over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, then cool, cover and refrigerate everything in the pot overnight.
3. The next morning, add the last 1/3 cup of sugar to the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the figs are soft and slightly shrunk, about 15 minutes.
4. Pour everything into a jar, cool and refrigerate before serving. Enjoy!