Edible Monterey Bay


Photo by John Cox

Courtesy chef Craig von Foerster

Sierra Mar was my first real cooking job out of culinary school. Chef Craig was an incredible mentor to me and many other young cooks who had the opportunity to spend time in his kitchen. His chanterelle risotto recipe remains one of my all-time favorite mushroom dishes. Sometimes it’s impossible to improve on a classic recipe and I hope you will enjoy this iconic Big Sur dish! Chef Craig was kind enough to let us use this classic recipe that was originally published in the Sierra Mar cookbook.


2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup carnaroli rice

Place stock or water in a saucepan and bring to simmer. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion; cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice to the onions and stir to coat with oil; add just enough simmering stock to barely cover the rice.

Keep heat at simmer, occasionally stirring and adding more liquid as needed to keep the rice covered. After the last liquid is added, simmer for 1 more minute. At this point there should be a creamy liquid surrounding the rice. Turn out the pre-cooked risotto into a shallow pan; mix occasionally with a spatula while cooling to keep all the rice evenly cooked. When cooled, completely store in tightly sealed container until ready to use.


1/4 cup dry porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups yellow onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup sherry wine
10 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Soak the porcini in hot water until hydrated. Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium. When onions begin to brown, stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to loosen up any browned bits and redistribute the onions. Add a few tablespoons of water and scrape the bottom to completely deglaze. Once onions are golden, about 20 minutes, add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook 5 more minutes or until it begins to caramelize on bottom of pan. Add sherry wine and porcini with their liquid, being careful not to add sediment at bottom. Scrape bottom of pan to deglaze pan again. Reduce liquid until almost dry. Add water and thyme and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain.


1 batch risotto base
1¾ cups hot mushroom jus
2 cups pan-roasted chanterelles
(see sidebar for cooking instructions)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Parmesan
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons truffle butter
1 tablespoon chives, snipped

Add the risotto base to a small pot and then add enough hot mushroom jus to barely cover the rice. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Continue adding more jus as it is absorbed to keep the rice covered. When most of the jus has been absorbed, add the roasted chanterelles, stir and continue to cook for 1 minute more. At this point the rice should be suspended in a creamy liquid and the grains of rice should be cooked through but firm. Remove from heat and fold in the remaining ingredients, adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

Chef’s Note: Check the consistency by eating a few grains of rice. If the rice is too hard, add a little more mushroom jus. Serves 4.