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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | TIBDITS

Chefs Help Launch Westlake Village Store

Cooks will be signing their books and preparing dishes at the opening of the specialty grocery.

November 07, 1996|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chefs will be cooking up a storm and signing autographs in Westlake Village this week in honor of the opening of a Bristol Farms gourmet and specialty food store at the new Westlake Promenade shopping center.

Folks at the nearly 33,000-square-foot shop will celebrate its grand opening from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, with Bristol Farms executive chef Bruce Jacobs leading a holiday cooking demonstration from noon to 3 p.m.

And that's just the beginning.

From noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Don Skipworth and Sally Molano, co-authors of the "Sumptuous Santa Barbara" cookbook, will prepare recipes and sign their book. And on Sunday, Tommy Tang, chef and owner of the Tommy Tang's restaurants, will autograph copies of his cookbook, "Modern Thai Cuisine," from noon to 3 p.m.

There will be other special guests and events throughout the store's first weekend, with book signings and cooking demonstrations through November.

The Bristol Farms store, the fifth in the Southern California chain, will feature international food items, an in-store cafe, a coffee bar, a bakery, deli and sushi counters and kitchenware.

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Mark McGarry, head chef at the Crown and Anchor Sports Pub and Grub in Thousand Oaks, said a certain nostalgia settles over his British customers when they bite into his steak and kidney pie, his fish and chips, or his bangers and mash.

"You can see it in their homesick eyes when they eat the food," he said.

But the British-American restaurant has attracted not just British costumers longing for home, but a good share of Americans, since it opened for business over the summer.

"The customers are really half and half," said McGarry, a native of Coventry, England. "We get a lot of Americans with British ancestry or who were stationed in England while they were in the forces."

The Crown and Anchor menu includes a number of dishes named after well-known personalities, real and fictional, in British history.

Entrees include the Winston Churchill (fish and chips, $7.95 and $8.95), the Henry VIII (steak and mushroom pie, $8.95), the William Shakespeare (shepherd's pie, $6.95), the Andy Capp (bangers and mash, $5.95), the Robin Hood (pork pie, cheese and pickled onion, $6.95) and the Charles Dickens (open-face roast beef on white bread with mashed potatoes and gravy, $6.95).

The American side of the menu features such fare as a fish sandwich ($5.95), a steak sandwich ($7.95), a tuna salad on white ($4.95) and a cheeseburger ($5.95).

The restaurant is at Skyline Plaza, 2891 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.

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Peter Horsch, new executive chef at Wheeler Hot Springs restaurant, is a spur-of-the-moment guy when it comes to cooking.

"I pop things out at the last second," said Horsch, who joined the restaurant earlier this month. "I don't know what I'm going to prepare an hour from now."

It's because of this last-minute approach that Horsch said he is unable to tell Wheeler diners what changes to expect now that he's taken control of the kitchen. But the New York native did say to check out the appetizers.

"I'm going to broaden the hot appetizer selection," said Horsch, who most recently headed up the kitchen at the Vineyard Cafe in Santa Barbara and prior to that prepared hot appetizers at Wolfgang Puck's Granita in Malibu.

As for entrees, Horsch said, he tends to lean toward the lean.

"I really enjoy cooking with fish, so we'll probably add that on the menu," he said. "We will use a lot of different types of bird too, like duck, quail and maybe some pigeon. People will probably see a little bit of Italian in my cooking, a little French, a little Japanese."

Given the Hot Springs' recent bankruptcy filing, Horsch's move to Wheeler may seem risky. But he said he's looking forward to rejuvenating the restaurant.

"I hope to add some life and pick up the business," he said. "I think it's really nice and has great potential to be a fun restaurant."

Former Wheeler chef Gael Lecolly, who is focusing his attention on his own catering enterprise, will continue to consult at Wheeler, Horsch said.

Wheeler is at 16825 Maricopa Highway, Ojai.

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Ventura's Leeward Winery will unveil four new releases Saturday and Sunday at its annual Holiday Open House.

The winery will offer tastings of its 1994 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, its 1995 Central Coast Chardonnay and its 1996 Pinot Noir Blanc and Riesling. Capistrano's Restaurant of Oxnard will prepare food to complement the wine.

Leeward, at 2784 Johnson Drive, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Admission is free.

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