Two Twos

Caprial and John's new show and Lisa and Jonathan's new restaurant.

A CERTAIN EDITOR of mine has no patience for the current chefs-as- celebrities vogue. "Leave them alone and let them cook!" he barks. He really doesn't have too much patience for the cult of celebrity in any genre—unless the celebrity in question is incredibly hot and/or he happened to catch them in some obscure production of an obscure opera in the '60s. The guy just doesn't suffer the Food Network's fools gladly. I was a little surprised, then, when he cheerfully dropped off a DVD copy of two episodes from the second season of Caprial and John Pence's national cooking show, Caprial and John's Kitchen, which will premiere on KCTS at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12. (This editor also allowed himself a very brief reprise upon hearing that Brasa's Tamara Murphy and New York chef and son-of-Salumi Mario Batali will face off on an upcoming episode of Iron Chef America.) I suppose with the Pences, it's the distinction between public television and mega-cable showbiz, and of course, there's the local angle and the idea that these former Seattleites have definitely done good. Beyond that, Caprial and John just don't come off as stars. They use too many plural pronouns, repeat each other's dorky cute-isms, and behave so casually—and teenagerly—that you just don't experience them as members of the cognoscenti. As "Cappy" does the real work (she so wears the pants in this relationship), John says that if you've ever been to their house and looked in their refrigerator, you know their only condiment is mustard. It actually seems plausible that you've done that, whereas, who can imagine going over to Emeril Lagasse's? Though a little too publicly affectionate for my taste, the Pences are great hosts and teachers. They know what to breeze over and what to slow down for, and they seem to be truly committed to local products—a very natural bias in this neck of the woods. I'M NOT A HUGE Food Network fan myself; I'd much rather read a cookbook than watch Rachel Ray open another can of tomato sauce, and the camera angles on Alton Brown's show make me seasick. Still, I couldn't help but wonder which Seattle-area culinary couple could best the Pences. The news that Lisa Dupar will finally be opening her much-anticipated family restaurant, Pomegranate, made me think of her and her husband and partner, Jonathan Zimmer. When the new place opens in Redmond on Wednesday, May 11, Dupar will be back working the line for the first time in many years. Although she's been the main force behind Lisa Dupar Catering—working first as executive chef and then taking on a creative recipe-testing and development role—she's been effectively out of the kitchen since her daughter was born 16 years ago. What's she cooking up for her return? Pomegranate's menu is homey, reflecting a very cross-cultural American sense of that world. The inspiration for "sushi tacos" (Dungeness crab, flying fish eggs, and other ingredients wrapped in nori squares) came from executive chef Grover Ramsey's kitchen, but his Japanese wife cautioned Dupar that no Japanese chef would serve this very casual, quick home-style meal in a restaurant. Fine by Dupar; the Pomegranate menu is purposefully approachable and folksy. (I imagine plates like celeriac lasagna and pomegranate molasses pork chops will split the difference between homey and high-end.) And hey, with the kitchen situated behind a huge wall of windows and Zimmer available for offering wine suggestions, it'll be like the couple has their own public-access show—only better. Don't despair if you were dreaming of getting Dupar to cater your next big event; that aspect of her enterprise continues. At the Women's Funding Alliance's Art of Dining auction Thursday, April 21, I tasted Dupar's star-quality duality. Her passed appetizer was a sushi roll topped with a wonderful whipped avocado/wasabi garnish, and the morel-crusted salmon entrée, co-created with Chris Keff, was absolutely champagne-toast-worthy—but your Uncle Earl would've dug it, too. lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

 
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