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BEER WEEK: Chefs Reveal Kitchen Secrets

From left: Kyle Bergman, Amy DiBiase and Gunther

Photo by R. Adam Ward

Adding beer to food shouldn't intimidate home cooks. And giving a wide range of ideas to become adept at cooking with beer was a large focus of the Chef Celebration of Beers event. The outing, which helped wrap up San Diego Beer Week,brought food and beer lovers to the Irwin M. Jacobs Hall on the Qualcomm campus. The crowd sampled creative combinations by chefs from some of San Diego County’s most mouth-watering restaurants.

“Chef Panel Discussion: Cooking With Beer” featured chef Gunther Emathinger, of Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Kyle Bergman, sous chef of The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and chef Amy DiBiase of Roseville restaurant in Point Loma.

Cooking with beer shouldn’t be intimidating but does involve a “little trial and error and a little luck,” says Emathinger. He also advises home cooks to keep their recipes simple and start out with malty, low-hop beers.

The chefs agreed that hoppiness could be a balancing act with the flavor profiles of the ingredients. Cooking hoppy beers for a long time can make a dish bitter.

“The easiest and best application for beer in food is marinade,” says Bergman. Even vegetarian fare can benefit from the added complexity of beer’s flavor--hesays adding it in at the end of the dish will keep it from overwhelming the subtler flavors of a vegetable-based dish.

These chefs don’t necessarily think that unbottling top-shelf beer for cooking is a wise move. Instead, they suggest using another, middle of the road beer with similar qualities to the beer that a home cook might be pairing with the dish.

“Beer has a multitude of flavors,” says Emathinger. “What makes beer enjoyable ( to cook with) are all of those flavors.”

Beer even complements pasta, Bergman says. “Instead of oregano or another bitter herb, finish with an IPA,” he suggests.

Brandon Hernández, a food writer, contributor to SanDiego.com and who has appeared on the Food Network's Emeril Live, put together and moderated the panel.“I wanted to get people I knew had experience at more upscale than traditional restaurants," says Hernández.

Enjoying cooking and beer was a definite theme. Emathinger notes one big benefit: It gives the home cook an excuse to have a beer in his or her hands while cooking.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Address: Irwin Jacobs Hall: 5775 Morehouse Drive