Wednesday, December 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 39
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Chef Anthony Endy brings a zestful philosophy to food at The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang

KENNY CRESS

Santa Ynez Valley chef Anthony Endy went up against celebrity chef Bobby Flay on Flay’s own show last April—and beat him.


Tuck in, eat up
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort has something for every eater. For the public, The Grill at Alisal River Course is open for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and The Ranch Course Grill & Golf Lounge is open for breakfast and lunch Friday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For resort guests and members, The Oval Lawn Tent and Creekside is open for breakfast from 7 to 8 a.m., and dinner from 5 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit alisal.com or call 800-425-4725. The resort is located at 1054 Alisal Road, Solvang.

COOKING FOR A CROWD
Alisal Guest Ranch Director of Culinary Operations Anthony Endy sometimes hosts barbecue workshops on the ranch.
COURTESY PHOTO BY SARAH RANGE

Endy got the best of Flay on the Beat Bobby Flay show in an episode that aired in June, giving Endy—the executive chef at Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang—a boost as the ranch reopened after the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders lifted that month.

Flay was a good sport, however, and reinforced Endy’s approach to cooking.

“When I cooked alongside Bobby Flay on his show, I made a pomegranate salsa, and it was aggressive with heat and flavor, and the judges commented on its kick off-screen,” Endy said .

Endy sought Flay’s expert opinion.

“I asked Bobby if it was too spicy. His response was, ‘No way. You need to show them you’re here!’ That is something I have done and hope to continue to do.” 

Endy, who is director of culinary operations at the ranch, said this zesty cooking philosophy matches what he applies to his restaurant.

“First and foremost, food has to be delicious and flavorful, and knowing how to best achieve that is the key,” Endy said. “Fresh food always tastes better, which translates into sourcing from the best and the closest to our kitchen. 


GO BOLD
A Santa Ynez Valley native, Anthony Endy said he likes to go big on culinary profiles while staying true to the roots of local flavors—such as beef from the Alisal Guest Ranch.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KATY MILLER

“This also means cooking with the seasons, a practical principle. Food needs to be seasoned and handled with care. I tend to be bold with my seasoning and flair profiles,” the chef said.

That boldness gets blended with local traditions. Take, for instance, the beef. 

“Beef is always a must at the Alisal Guest Ranch, as it began and still is a working cattle ranch. This includes [our cuts of beef], such as the thick cut New York strip loin, tomahawk chops grilled over oak at our barbecues, herb-crusted prime rib, and even our classic steak frites.”

The Alisal Guest Ranch’s director of culinary operations does have his favorites. One of those is the dish he made to actually beat Flay: a tri-tip sandwich that’s true to Endy’s Central Coast roots. 

“I can’t forget the Better Than Bobby Steak Sandwich,” Endy said. “An ode to my home, the Central Coast; barbecue is a big thing at the ranch and is my specialty.”

Thanks to his mother and grandmother, whom he regularly accompanied in the kitchen or the garden, food became an important part of life for Endy at a young age.

When he was in high school, he took a job at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe.


WINNER
Executive chef Anthony Endy beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay at his own game in an episode of Beat Bobby Flay that aired on the Food Network in June, grilling and serving up a tri-tip sandwich.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KATY MILLER

“From there, I immersed myself in the industry, worked, and read as much as I could,” Endy said. “I took restaurant tours, talked to chefs. I was always learning, always watching the horizon.”

Starting in 2001, Endy honed his craft at various North County restaurants, including the historic Santa Maria Inn.

During his early years in the business, he returned to Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe in 2005. At the time, the establishment was going through an unprecedented boom thanks to its appearance in the 2004 movie Sideways. Endy became the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe’s director of operations.

From there, Endy continued to thrive wherever he worked in North County, creating from-scratch recipes and sourcing natural ingredients for eateries scattered throughout California and the Southwest. That prepped him for his current role at Alisal, where he combines local sensibilities when it comes to food with elevated culinary approaches.

For his signature tri-tip sandwich, Endy described the effort that goes into making it:

“My tri-tip sandwich is cooked over an oak fire, served on garlic-butter-dipped grilled French bread, with herb salsa verde (rich with cilantro, lemon, Fresno chili, and avocado) on one side, and black pepper garlic on the other. The sandwich is balanced with smoke, acidity, garlic, salt, spice, crispy bread, tender meat, and creamy sauce.”


HERE’S THE BEEF
The Alisal Guest Ranch menu is big on beef, including tomahawk steaks like the ones Anthony Endy is cutting up.
COURTESY PHOTO BY SARA RANGE

Endy has some other particular favorites.

“Roasted pork shank chile verde—it’s cooked fall-off-the-bone tender with aged cheddar grits paired with a tangy spiced tomatillo sauce and black bean corn salsa with queso fresco and cilantro,” Endy said. “It’s a dish reminiscent of how my grandmother cooks, but yet elevated to the ranch setting.”

The chef said he also has a soft spot for his fried chicken dish.

“I, like every chef, am fond of my recipe of fried chicken,” Endy said. “It takes much time and care to build flavor and texture into this dish. I first brine the chicken for at least 24 hours in a honey lemon herb solution. 

“Then it gets soaked in buttermilk spiked with hot sauce overnight. Breaded in my special seasoned flour—fried golden and finished with a maple chili seasoning shake,” he said. “I want it to hit a balance of craveable flavors all the way from the crispy skin to the juicy meat.” 

Whether honing his favorite dishes or harking back to his grandmother’s home kitchen, Endy added that this approach to cooking stays true to the ranch.

“When you’re active among this vast property, you want hearty, flavorful meals. My cuisine strives to bring you just that,” he said. “It’s rooted in a rich history of California cuisine, with a true understanding of timeliness [and] a fresh approach to execution and flavor profiles.” 

Contributor Kenny Cress thrives in the restaurant business—as a customer. Reach him through the editor at clanham@santamariasun.com.










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Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

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