Jeff Rossman to tell about cooking at San Diego Jewish Book Fair

By Lynne Thrope

Lynne Thrope

SAN DIEGO–Meet Jeff Rossman. Chef Jeff to those of us lucky enough to personalize him.  But anyone can.  He is everywhere in San Diego nowadays. I few weeks ago I caught his cooking demonstration at the Gourmet Experience at the fairgrounds in Del Mar. Immediately after, I dashed over to the Chef Press booth to purchase a few copies of his just released cookbook From Terra’s Table. After all, Thanksgiving and Chanukah are creeping up and I want to wow my family and friends with incredible bounty that celebrates the best of San Diego’s organic farms, artisans, ranchers, wineries, and brew masters. 

As I surveyed page after page of Paul Body’s stunning photographs, it struck me that what Chef Jeff was promoting in this user-friendly cookbook was the people responsible for his success.  He refers to it as “The Terra Way.” I call it “Being a Mensch.”
In 1998, he began his tenure as the general manager of Terra, his family’s restaurant located in the Uptown district of Hillcrest. Named for everything edible grown in the “earth,” he gravitated to the kitchen two years later to become the Executive Chef. There he could control product quality and consistency, which, I believe, is the simple reason for Terra being one of San Diego’s longest running family-owned restaurants. “Good ingredients are the cornerstones of good cooking,” asserts Chef Jeff and as a dabbler in my own kitchen, I couldn’t agree more. But he adds that, “…to be a good cook, you must trust your senses, especially your taste buds, and let the cooking come from within.” This, too, I do, but truth be told, there’s nothin’ like a really good recipe to follow.  From Terra’s Table has some good ones.
I began my experimenting with Chef Jeff’s Tomato Gazpacho (p. 75) because it’s super easy to make and I think no one can beat mine. While his version is a bit more peppery, my guests raved to the point of asking for the recipe. Naturally, I told them to buy the book!  When I shared the fact that he created this recipe for a Share Our Strength event, they wanted to support this mensch.  Jeff Rossman does much for his community, including his Temple Emanu-El. Every year I look forward to his Chanukah party donation of the-best-latkes-ever!  Now, you can have the recipe (p.151 Sweet Potato-Apple Latkes with Lemon Verbena Crème Fraîche). 

Since each recipe is accompanied with a wine and beer complement, Chef Jeff suggests choosing for his latkes a Reisling or a Gerwürztraminer or Belgian Pale Ale. This singular feature is clever and appreciated because it saves time having to search for the perfect pairing which sometimes can be agonizing!

Another easy soup I recommend is the Roasted Beet and Watermelon (p. 145) simply because I couldn’t imagine those two ingredients in the same dish. However, what I was treated to was a gorgeous color combination of a summer soup and a winter soup – perfect for this time of year in San Diego. If you make it (and you should), take the extra time to garnish as suggested. The sweetness of the rice wine and fresh peach makes for a perfect entrance.  Another recommendation is the Karl Strauss Amber Lager-Braised Short Ribs (p. 53) served with a side of Caramelized Onion and Brie Grits and Mushroom-Leek Ragout. If you follow Chef’s Jeff recipe, you’ll discover how much fun and easy cooking can be. For Thanksgiving, I’m going to make the Roast Duck with Cranberry-Goat Cheese Bread Pudding. (p. 174) I anticipate rewards in the form of stilled conversation and soft, elongated “Mmmms…” Todah rabah, Jeff, and B’Tayavon.
Meet Chef Jeff Rossman where he will be signing copies of From Terra’s Table:
Friday Nov. 5, 10am: 16th Annual Jewish Book Fair, JCC 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla
Saturday Nov. 6, 3-5pm: Terra Restaurant 3900 Vermont St. Hillcrest
Free champagne and hors d’oeuvres
Saturday Nov. 13, 10-4pm: Major Market 1855 S. Centre City Parkway, Escondido
Free Cooking Demonstration
Thursday Nov. 18, 4-5:30pm: San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival cocktail class “Mix It Up!” at San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, 200 Harbor Drive $65 per ticket. Buy online at
Saturday Nov. 20, Noon-4pm: San Diego Bay Wine & food Festival at the Embarcadero. Get a taste of 170 wine and spirit purveyors and 70 of San Diego’s top chefs. Chef Jeff will be signing his cookbook at the Chef Press and Borders Bookstore booths and will be competing in the Chef of the Fest contest. He took 2nd place last year! For event information and tickets, visit,
Lynne Thrope can be contacted at [email protected]

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