Tom Callahan, one of the veteran chefs in the foothills, has been behind the stove at the historic National Hotel in Jamestown for almost 20 years.
He has seen his share of trends come and go.
While his menu and approach might be grounded in classic preparations, he’s well aware of adapting to diners’ growing interests and concerns. Because Jamestown and the hotel is a popular stop for travelers on their way to Yosemite National Park, one of Tom’s challenges is providing global travelers with a positive experience.
“I’ve had to respond to the gluten-free and vegetarian movement without changing too much of our menu,” Tom said. “We utilize local fresh ingredients whenever we can and our garden next to the hotel has made a tremendous addition to our menu.”
Roasted vegetarian, gluten-free ravioli is terrific and is popular even with diners who don’t have dietary concerns. The hotel also offers gluten-free breads and rolls.
Tom’s cuisine leans toward Italian Mediterranean, while paying homage to some Old World classics. Longtime hotel owner Steve Wiley has assembled an all-foothills wine list with numerous Gold Country wines that complement the menu.
Tom finds he’s using less cream in preparations and utilizing more intriguing ingredients.
“Food shows have stimulated interest and I find it is now easier to talk to customers about different food items. Guests know their ingredients!”
A recent spur-of-the-moment dish Tom did that made for a terrific wine pairing was a fresh orange roughy sauteed in a little olive oil, topped with fresh apricots and Greek yogurt and served with basmati rice pilaf with dacon seeds and garbanzos.
“A Stevenot Winery Chardonnay made this dish sing,” Tom enthused.