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Taste of Sonoma County: Local chefs make green chowder, paella and crème brûlée

How to chow down, Sonoma-style.

The 3rd Hour of TODAY is in Sonoma County, enjoying its breathtaking views, outdoor adventures and — perhaps most importantly — its mouthwatering food.

 (Sponsored by Sonoma County Tourism.)

To celebrate the food of this treasured region, local chefs Casey Thompson, executive chef of Folktable; Ari Weiswasser, chef and proprietor of Glen Ellen Star; and Stéphane Saint Louis, executive chef and owner of Table Culture Provisions, are showing off their California culinary prowess with recipes for Collard Green Chowder with Ham, Wine Country Paella and Crème Brulée, respectively.

This recipe reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking, brought into the present day. She would have used ham hock, but I find that the shank has so much more meat on it. I ask the farmer for our restaurant, Folktable, to plant collard greens every year; I absolutely love them. The potato and fresh corn are so warm and filling, and the turmeric is California all the way. This is more of a fun summer chowder, but I would eat it year-round — especially if there was fresh corn that tasted good!

Wine Country Paella

This paella dish is cooked in a cazuela in a wood-fired ven. Contrary to traditional Spanish paella, the socarrat (crispy rice) is formed on the top of the dish as a result of the top flame from the oven. This vegetarian dish allows us to utilize our own farm and local farm partners all over Sonoma County.

Crème Brulée

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Crème Brulée

Stéphane Saint Louis

What makes crème brulée truly special is how it so satisfyingly cracks under the pressure of a spoon. This creates a delightful contrast in textures, with the creamy custard and crunchy topping, combining for a truly indulgent dessert experience. It is surprisingly easy to make with just a few simple ingredients and some basic kitchen tools, and it is a great crowd-pleaser. Plus, it’s my mom’s favorite.