Mission Hills welcomes chef and author Amy Finley for special Red Door Market Dinner honoring Julia Child
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Restaurants and fans alike are honoring Julia Child this month, with special menus and events in honor of the famed French-cuisine chef’s 100th birthday. Child was born Aug. 15, 1912 in Pasadena, Calif. and made a career as a cookbook writer and cooking-show host before dying Aug. 13, 2004 in Montecito, Calif.
The Red Door restaurant in Mission Hills will be honoring Child with a special Market Dinner on Aug. 15. Owner Trish Watlington is partnering with the Mission Hills Business Improvement District and the Mission Hills Farmers Market to welcome San Diego resident, author and Food Network star Amy Finley.
Calling the event a “fresh idea and unique taste experience,” Mission Hills BID President Tom Curl said it is a “treasure not to miss.”
Author of the 2011 memoir “How to Eat A Small Country: A Family’s Pursuit of Happiness One Meal at a Time,” Finley received culinary training at Grégoire-Ferrandi’s École Supérieure de Cuisine Française in Paris, France. She is the winner of the third season of “The Next Food Network Star,” launching her “The Gourmet Next Door” television series in 2007.
Now focusing solely on researching and writing cookbooks, Finley said Child remains a strong influence on her inspiration.
“Julia was one of my first heroes: a larger-than-life, rollicking, chicken-dropping Francophile who chuckled and guffawed all the pretense right out of French dishes,” Finley said. “I’ve sought to emulate her boisterous love for all things French in my own cooking and writing, and am pleased as punch to celebrate her spirit.”
Finley will first lead a group through the Mission Hills Farmers Market with Red Door Chef Miguel Valdez. At the market, the pair will discuss French cooking and the available items, and will then return to the Red Door where Valdez will prepare a four-course, French-inspired meal.
This month’s Market Dinner is not the first for Valdez and Watlington, who also owns the Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge. Located next to the Red Door, the two restaurants share the same kitchen.
Watlington said they regularly host Market Dinners, calling them “culinary education” for participants that are used to highlight the Farmers Market. Participation has grown since inception, and Watlington anticipates selling out this month’s event.
“This time, we decided on Julia Child’s birthday” for the Market Dinner, Watlington said.
“For me personally, I’ve had her books for thirty years. I just brought my original copy of ‘The Art of French Cooking’ to Chef Miguel,” she said, recalling that she received the book as a wedding gift. “It smells like an old, musty book and it’s got dribbles down the side of it. I would cook out of that book.”
Saying she was glad with a resurgence of attention for Child and her accomplishments, Watlington likened Child’s attention to detail as one of the most important contributions to cooking.
“Everything that is basic and technique-driven is in that book,” Watlington said. “It’s everything you need to know.”
The walk begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Farmers Market, located at 4025 Falcon St. The market is open from 3 – 7 p.m. each Wednesday.
The Aug. 15 dinner, held at the Red Door at 741 Washington St., begins at 6:15 p.m., with the cost starting at $48 per person. Including wine pairings, the dinner is $73 per person.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack program, and signed copies of Finley’s book will be available for purchase. For reservations call 619-295-6000.