Chef Tom Herndon – Crowd Pleasers

Always on the lookout for crowd pleasers, these three recipes fit the bill quite nicely. Beef, chicken and a lovely chopped salad full of surprises. Rave reviews all around.

Caldo de Res

A traditional beef soup perfect for San Francisco’s cool Summer evenings, the hearty bowl can be served with good corn tortillas and garnished with shredded cabbage, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, slices of avocado, whatever you have on hand.

Caldo De Res

Serves 6

2 pounds beef chuck-eye roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 box beef stock
1 box (chicken or beef) bone broth
4 cloves garlic
1 large white onion, sliced thin
1 pinch salt
2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 large celery sticks, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 chayote squash, cut in 2-inch strips (or cubed butternut)
2 ears of yellow or white corn, sliced into 1-inch rounds
1 large zucchini
1/2 small cabbage, cut into 2-inch chunks
limes, tortillas, hot sauce


Brown the beef cubes in olive oil. Remove. Caramelize the onions in the fat remaining. Add the garlic. Add back in the meat, sprinkle with the salt, add the stocks, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Then uncover and skim off the foam and grease.

Add the carrots, celery, chayote squash (or cubed butternut), corn, and zucchini. Cover, and continue simmering for 30 more minutes, or until veggies are firm, but tender..

Turn the heat off, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, shredded cabbage, hot sauce and warm corn tortillas.

 Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo is a comforting standby. It’s fast and easy to prepare. Replace the soy sauce with coconut aminos for the same umami yumminess. Kids don’t like the peppercorns? Scrape them away before serving.

Chicken Adobo

Serves 4

8 large chicken thighs
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 bay leaves

Combine the chicken thighs, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

Bring the chicken to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened and the chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice.


Herb and Chickpea Salad

This was a surprising and unusual combination when I found it. Crazy ingredients, but they all came together into a delicious, and memorable, whole.

Herb and Chickpea Chopped Salad

Serves 4

1 large head butter lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil + parsley chopped
1/2 bunch fresh thyme chopped
1/2 package frozen grilled corn, thawed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red peppers, chopped
3/4 cup fresh blackberries or blueberries
1 firm-ripe peach. or juicy apple, finely chopped
1 jalapeño seeded + chopped
1 can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup mixed toasted pumpkin seeds pecans, walnuts, and pistachios, pepitas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (1/2 to 1)
1 clove garlic minced or grated (1 to 2)
1 lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado pitted + chopped
4 ounces goat cheese crumbled

In a large bowl combine the butter lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, blackberries or blueberries, peach or apple, jalapeño and chickpeas.

In another small bowl or glass jar combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, chipotle chili powder, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined.

Once ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Add the avocado and goat cheese and gently toss once more. Serve.

On Another Note

Starting with glee club in sixth grade, I was in choirs all the way through high school. Loved singing. I have a good ear. I remember, early on, being surprised to hear from a fellow choir member that she always wanted to stand in front of me because I would help her stay on key.

My love for singing has been lifelong, particularly tight harmony in acapella. When I first met Bob, I was hanging out with the Stull family (oldest brother Mike, with his deep, silky baritone was a member of the Wackers at one time). We would sit around the dinner table and someone would sing a note and everyone would sing a note in harmony until the dining room echoed with a long, lush chord.

Jackie, the mom, told me about, and introduced me to various members of the local chapter of, the SPEBQSIA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America). A mile long acronym that is hard to forget. She was a member of Sweet Adeline’s which was the female equivalent to the all-male Barbershop quartets (around the same time that the men started forming their organization back in the late 30’s, the ladies were also passionate about singing in close harmony and formed their own organization to promote female barbershop quartet singing). When I wasn’t over at the Stull’s, the Wackers would sometimes practice in the living room of our giant house, singing their own tight harmonies (often including Mike), reminiscent of CSNY and the Beatles. Needless to say I was surrounded. I loved it.

This will take you back:

A Sweet Adeline’s sampler (white folks, go figure)

Of Course

Like most popular music in America (jazz, rock n’ roll), barbershop quartet singing is rooted in black music. According to Wikipedia, in the last half of the 19th century, U.S. barbershops often served as community centers, where most men would gather. Barbershop quartets originated with African-American men socializing in barbershops; they would harmonize while waiting their turn, vocalizing in spirituals, folk songs and popular songs. This generated a new style, consisting of unaccompanied, four-part, close-harmony singing.

Later, white minstrel singers adopted the style, and in the early days of the recording industry their performances were recorded and sold. By the end of the 19th century, African-American music was an integral part of mainstream American culture.”

Here are some samples of comparative performances of the same “Barbershop Quartet” material done by black singers:

The Ink Spots (what a range!)

Growing up I listened to hours and hours of The Mills Brothers:


Over the years my love for close harmony has expanded to include the styles of polyphony found in the softly romantic, soulful Georgian folk singing; the unique sound of Sardinian men standing shoulder to shoulder in close circles with their “cantu a tenore,” and dissonant harmonies of Bulgarian women’s choirs.


I have been following two brothers from Georgia, Gocha and Ucha Abuladze. They have a number of YouTube videos, including various public performances, but I favor the ones where they’re sitting, sometimes shirtless, around a table covered in food, surrounded by close friends and family. Here are some examples. The first one is my favorite:


This polyphonic singing is from Sardinia (Sardegna). The men usually stand together in tight circles, cupping one ear with a hand. Singing shepherds, as it has been for hundreds of years.  The rattling, guttural bass reminds me of Tuvin throat singing, without the whistling overtone.



The Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble hails from my neighborhood, across the bay in Oakland. I was friends with the director for a while. They’ve been singing traditional music from Bulgaria and surrounding countries for four decades.

From the Foodiverse

Imagine a Disneyworld………for foodies! I so want to go here. Bologna is in the middle of the culinary center of Italy (if you can believe Italy would have ONE place for that), in Emilia Romagna. I could take a group, find a lovely Airbnb in Bologna, as our base, and spend a full week – even two – in this place, doing a very deep dive into Italian food culture, taking classes, exploring exhibits and eating, eating, eating!


Welcome to FICO Eataly World in Bologna, Italy.

Translated from Italian: “FICO Eataly World is a sensory education gym for food and biodiversity, where the wonders of food and wine and Italian food and wine are presented and narrated from birth in motherland until the arrival in the plate and in the glass.

We welcome hundreds of small and medium-sized Italian companies of high quality that show their manufacturing art live. We are echoes of their stories; of crafts, of passion, of genius.  The taste and the beauty of our country, told to all the citizens of the world.”

  • Agriculture: visit 2 hectares of fields and stables with more than 200 animals and 2000 cultivars .
  • Food Processing: visit the 40 farms to see the production of meat, fish, cheese, pasta, oil, sweets, beer, etc.
  • Flavors: Our FICO restaurant with a choice of over 40different offers.
  • Fun: Six educational carousel “rides” dedicated to the fire, the land, the sea, the animals, the bottle and the future.


Chef Tom is currently Resident Chef for a small tech firm in San Francisco. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at

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