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Fun, not fussy

May/June 2019 California Bountiful magazine

Chef advocates for simple fare—with a twist




Chef Ozzie Chavez says the restaurant business is difficult but rewarding: "When you see people smiling and taking pictures and sharing their plates, that makes it all worthwhile." Photo: © 2019 Fred Greaves

The menu at The Paisley Café is eclectic, much like the owner herself.

"I've always liked to do my own thing," said chef Ozzie Chavez, who opened the café and bakery in suburban Sacramento last winter.

A peek into her background might explain why she leans toward unique combinations of ingredients and culinary styles: Chavez was born in Israel of Jewish parents, raised in England by her grandmother (a chef), is married to a Mexican-American and has lived on both U.S. coasts.

The chef's signature scrambled egg dish is one example of how her varied influences translate to the plate: Chavez uses lox and cream cheese to add flavor and richness—along with a portion of Jewish tradition—to the breakfast staple.

"Lox and eggs was a favorite growing up," she said. "I told my kids we have to put it on the menu, and they kept saying, 'No, no one's going to eat it.' And it's one of our most popular dishes."

Other twists on standard fare: Chavez dusts mango muffins with mango-habanero sugar; livens chicken salad with celery, walnuts and dried cherries; and fills Mason jars with herb-enhanced fruit crumbles.

"I like creating interesting flavor combinations. It makes me really happy," she said. "I just try to build on basic food, taking simple things and elevating them."

Elevated doesn't necessarily mean complicated. In fact, when it comes to food for casual gatherings—the mainstay of summer—Chavez advocates for simplicity.

"You can make a nice meal for your friends and have all the flavors of the season without driving yourself nuts with intricate recipes," she said. "You've just got to let loose and relax."

Barbara Arciero

Recipes

Brie en croûte with blueberries and pistachios

Tri-tip sliders with creamy horseradish sauce

Roasted red potato salad with bacon

Watermelon salad with arugula and feta

Blueberry and lavender crumble in jars


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