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Sierra Mar Steps up Daytime Dining

628x471February 4, 2014 – Post Ranch Inn’s Sierra Mar restaurant in Big Sur is bolstering its award-winning kitchen with the addition of new Executive Sous Chef Abigail Burk, an enhanced lunch menu and expansion of its kitchen garden.

Executive Chef John Cox says Burk, who has worked the past six years as Chef de Cuisine at Bernardus Lodge, has “a real respect for the ingredients and a high level of technique.” Burk is the second high profile departure from the kitchen at Bernardus Lodge since it was purchased by Noble House Hotels last fall. Late last year, pastry chef Ben Spungin left to join Coastal Luxury Management Group in Monterey.

Burk, 36, is a graduate of the Cabrillo College Culinary program and UC Santa Cruz. Before Bernardus, she worked for several years with the wood-fired oven in the lounge of the Shadowbrook restaurant in Capitola, followed by brief stints at Citronelle and Andre’s Bouchée in Carmel. 

She says working with Executive Chef Cal Stamenov at Bernardus has been inspiring: “Cal’s biggest influence on me has been the spirit and importance of generosity in cooking and taking care of guests….also a deep down love and respect for truffles.” 

With the help of the new sous chef, Cox plans to step up the level of the restaurant’s lunchtime offerings. “We’ve had such a tremendous response to our 3-course lunch menu that we John Cox-4want to build on it,” he says. “It’s a natural progression.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.37.42 PMBy late spring, Cox plans to introduce a themed Chef’s Menu at midday similar to his signature 9-course tasting menu currently available only at night. “We want to offer that kind of over-the-top menu experience in daytime when the views are so good,” says Cox. Sierra Mar is perched on soaring cliffs, with floor to ceiling windows that look out on the spectacular Big Sur coastline. 

This winter Sierra Mar’s kitchen garden has been expanded by about 30 percent and gardener Fiona Bond has put in a large chicken coop Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.41.54 PMwith some exotic breeds, including young Wyandotte and Polish Crested hens. The lucky chickens are fed restaurant scraps, they provide fertilizer for the garden and, hopefully, someday soon will provide eggs—completing a circle of ecology on the ranch property.

Beehives went in last year and next, Sierra Mar plans extend the garden’s growing season by putting in a large commercial level greenhouse next fall.

Cox is also proud of the “plate program” he’s starting at Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.36.09 PMSierra Mar, commissioning hand-thrown pottery and hand-blown glass made by local artisans to serve his delicious creations.

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About the author

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Deborah Luhrman is publisher and editor of Edible Monterey Bay. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own vegetables in the Santa Cruz Mountains.