Owned by Heather and Russell Thomas, Two Cooks Catering in San Luis Obispo makes “global cuisine with a conscience.”
Heather wears multiple hats “running the business, cooking, and handling client relations.” Russell is the executive chef, bringing more than 25 years of culinary experience, ranging from cooking at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch to pastry chef at Novo in San Luis Obispo.
The husband-and-wife team says that “our exclusive use of local farmers market produce, fresh meats and local seafood brings out the best of the Central Coast’s exceptional foods with our distinctive global touch. Our core philosophy to maintain a high level of quality in everything we do is showcased in the seasonal dishes we create.”
Q: What is your favorite local/seasonal ingredient that you’re currently using in your menu, and why is it your favorite?
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A: Russell: Lipstick peppers, because they not only add a wonderful flavor to dishes, but also a lot of vibrant color.
Q: How are you currently using it?
A: Russell: In a dish of roasted lipstick peppers stuffed with Happy Acres Goat Cheese, scallions and mint.
Q: How does this particular dish represent your culinary style/background/philosophy?
A: Russell: We’re big supporters of the local market, and you can find us shopping farmers markets every week. We cook seasonally and love ingredients that are simple, fresh and flavorful.
Q: How would home cooks approach this ingredient in their own kitchens?
A: Russell: To make this dish at home, grill the peppers over a gas flame until they are slightly blackened on the outside, or cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until the outside darkens and begins to crack.
Bring your goat cheese to room temperature and fold in chopped scallions and mint. When peppers have cooled, slice open the tops and stuff with the goat cheese mixture.
You can either stuff with your fingers, a spoon, or (our preference for big quantities) use a piping bag. (If you don’t have a piping bag, simply put the mixture in a sturdy plastic bag, cut off the tip of one corner, and squeeze out the filling.)
Q: What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
A: Russell and Heather: Anything off the grill. It’s a running joke that we have a lot of them. Between work and home we currently have 10 various barbecues and two smokers. We cook the obvious tri-tip and chicken, and then branch out to pizzas, vegetables and desserts.
Q: What is your favorite food-and-wine pairing?
A: Heather: Summer tomatoes and a good Italian wine. There is nothing more satisfying than picking fruits and vegetables from a home garden. We had three types of heirloom tomatoes growing this summer, and I love pairing them with Clesi’s Barbera or Dolcetto. (Clesi Winery is a family-owned and -operated label in San Luis Obispo.)