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MY CULINARY RÉSUMÉ
EXPERIENCE
RESTAURANT CHEF
COOK, CHEF, CHIEF BOTTLE WASHER
VARIOUS: 20 YEARS +, San Francisco Bay Area, Honolulu, Hawaii + Various locations across the U.S., & Canada
EDUCATION
CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO, CULINARY ARTS, HOTEL & RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT, San Francisco, CA
UC DAVIS, FOOD SCIENCE EXTENSION, Davis, CA
KITCHIT Q&A
KITCHIT:  WHAT IS THE ONE KITCHEN TOOL (OTHER THAN A GOOD CHEF'S KNIFE) THAT YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?
KELLEY HELDT:  My cast iron pans.
WHERE CAN YOU BE FOUND/WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR DAYS OFF?
Walking in a beautiful corner of nature.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY OR EVENT:
A casual dinner party, with multiple courses so the the guests can "graze", enjoying the food and each others company.......
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A CHEF?
I find a sense of reward and accomplishment when a guest finds they enjoy a dish of mine with an ingredient they otherwise thought they would not like.
WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?
Mainstay: pan roasted rack of lamb au jus, root vegetable gratin with lavender goat cheese, seasonal green vegetables. Lately: chawanmushi of oysters broiled in uni custard with confit of baby leeks, roasted chestnuts & saffron - nasturium butter
DESCRIBE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MEAL:
A tasting menu at Le Bernardin in New York: a tour de force of surprising and classic combinations, done with restraint and exceptional quality of seafood & ingredients.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IS:
Chez Panisse, Chef Mavro, Le Bernardin
FIVE INGREDIENTS I ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND ARE:
freshly made vegetable stock, meyer lemons, fresh ginger, kosher salt, vermouth
WHEN I'M AT HOME AND COOKING JUST FOR MYSELF, I MAKE:
Mixed plate: steamed quinoa, pinto beans, chicken mole, avocado, and steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
WHAT IS ONE FOOD OR DISH THAT YOU WOULD HAPPILY EAT EVERY SINGLE DAY?
Pho....(with No MSG !)
TWO EGGS "MY WAY" ARE:
"shirred": 2 eggs baked in a ramekin with lemon zest, grated gouda and creme fraiche
ONE FOOD THAT I'LL AVOID AT ALL COSTS IS:
Raw uni (sea urchin).....but LOVE it cooked, it becomes sweet like dungeness crab in custard form.
WHAT IS NEW AMERICAN CUISINE ?
Often I am asked, "what is your speciality ?" I prefer to use the umbrella term of "New American" to describe the cuisine that incorporates technique and method from global cuisines to best prepare ingredients available seasonally and in their prime. Cuisine may be a word of French origin, though it encapsulates the craft of cooking in all cultures. As a cook, I have had the good fortune to work for and with many great Chefs in my 20 + years of professional experience: in Californian, Italian, French, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Thai & Vietnamese cuisines. A Chef's "style" is as individual as a fingerprint. We all learn the basics of cuisine and then take it our direction. However, learning, progressing and fine tuning never ceases -- that is why I love to cook. My "style" is to be true to my Craft: my motivation and inspiration comes from the privilege to turn ingredients into happiness.
19 REVIEWS FROM KITCHIT HOSTS
OVERALL
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VALUE
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RATING DISTRIBUTION
5 STARS
4 STARS
3 STARS
2 STARS
1 STAR
DOUGLAS S.
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BAY AREA
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  12 PEOPLE
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Kelley prepared a delicious meal and was able to accommodate our requests. Service was spot on and kitchen cleaned and as we had left it. A great find. Thanks Kelley and sorry for the delayed review.
CELI C.
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BAY AREA
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  11 PEOPLE
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I could not have asked for better. It was just that great from beginning to end. Chef Kelley's cooking and organizational skills are top notch. He and the gourmet dinner for 10 was such a hit that everyone could not stop talking about it. It was truly a wonderful experience.
CASS B.
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BAY AREA
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  40 PEOPLE
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<p> Our event was a casual afternoon barbecue/luncheon/light dinner in early November for 40, served mostly buffet style. The menu included poached lobster, Turkish shrimp, seared ahi, pear salad, seared scallops, Tandoori roast chicken, vegan quinoa, grilled rack of lamb, gratin of root vegetables, green beans and asparagus. Dessert was a divine nut cardamon cake. We were delighted with the freshly prepared food. I cannot abide reheated meat: good food is all about fresh for me. Much of the food was prepared on site using our Tuscan oven and barbecue. The menu included our own recipe for Turkish Shrimp, which Kelley reproduced faithfully and roasted in the wood-fired oven. The Spanish Quinoa for our vegen guests was delicious. Kelley gauged quantities well, and we didn&#39;t run out of anything. The wait staff were attentive without being intrusive. We were especially pleased with how tidy they left our kitchen after a heavy day&#39;s use. We will use Chef Kelley Heldt again. He was a pro.</p>
SUSHIL P.
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BAY AREA
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  12 PEOPLE
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CARRIE H.
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  12 PEOPLE
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Kelley did a fabulous job preparing an amazing meal for 12 people celebrating a friend's bachelorette party. He was extremely responsive and attentive to detail while we were planning the event and he made us a memorable and perfectly executed meal from antipasto through dessert. Everything was fantastic, including the service by Kelley and his server, Peter!
ROBERT K.
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BAY AREA
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  7 PEOPLE
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5 stars and hats off for Chef Heldt. The culinary and event adventure was superb, everything promised and more, and a wonderfully memorable experience. World class and a pleasure to recommend.
KIM AND IAN M.
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BAY AREA
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  12 PEOPLE
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PATRICK H.
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  8 PEOPLE
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We had a wonderful dinner with Kelley as he prepared delicious dishes for our foodie dinner. We wanted some good food to go with wine for our party, and Kelley delivered some outstanding food pairings. We even had a seared foie gras appetizer to start with, and finished with an amazing fluffy chocolate souffle. Service and cleanup were great, and everyone had a blast. Highly recommended, and we look forward to the next dinner!
MATT W.
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BAY AREA
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  16 PEOPLE
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My wife has evolved into a refined foodie with specific tastes and a willingness to explore. For her 40th, we wanted a dinner to remember. Kelley Heldt was fantastic. He listened carefully to her tastes and favorite flavors and then created a custom menu that was unique, memorable, and absolutely delicious. Kelley and his experienced server were the highlight of our 18 person garden dinner party. The plates were delivered on time. The ingredients were the fresher than we can imagine. Kelley loves to create food that amazes his guests and he delivers! He's a joy to work with.
HENRY T.
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BAY AREA
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  7 PEOPLE
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Chef Kelley exceeded our expectations. Even though we contacted him on short notice, he put together a custom menu with stunning variety for our vegetarian dinner party -- he brought colors and flavors and aromas that made an unforgettable experience. He also put in a lot of effort in preparing before the event so he could flexibly cater to the cadence of the evening. When he left, he made sure our kitchen was spotless and our fridge was stocked with leftovers from his generous portions.
ANDREA L.
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  12 PEOPLE
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Kelley was a professional from start to finish--quick to respond, aware of his timing, a wonderful, well thought-out meal, and he left the kitchen exactly as he found it after. We were sort of on the fence as to whether we wanted a buffet or a sit down, as we only had 12 guests, but he made our buffet work as a very intimate experience nonetheless. We couldn't be happier!
NOVITA A.
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BAY AREA
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  10 PEOPLE
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Great experience overall. Food was great and chef Kelley was very friendly and professional.
CATHY V.
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  20 PEOPLE
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Very responsive and easy to work with, a pleasure to have in the kitchen, and most importantly fantastic food! Our guests came with high expectations and left very impressed... Made hosting a 20 person holiday dinner party felt like a breeze!
CAROLYN P.
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  8 PEOPLE
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Kelley was just amazing and delivered a truly memorable meal and experience for my 40th birthday. We had a smallish dinner party for 8 people and Kelley delivered a truly 5 star experience. He developed a menu that worked with our budget and gave our guests a choice of entree. Those of us who had the steak believe it was truly the best we'd ever had and the halibut had an amazing sauce that people were still talking about the next day! Kelley's partner Peter was also fantastic. He went easy above and beyond in helping us get the house, table, bar, etc ready for the party - could not have done it without him. If you're looking for a phenomenal meal that will make any event truly special, Kelley's your guy!
GINA B.
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BAY AREA
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  14 PEOPLE
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We had the traditional Hanukkah meal and I called on a Thursday for a Tuesday night party and Kelley was like, "no problem." Peter, the server, and Kelley showed up at 4pm and were ready as planned by 6:30. The food was amazing and, more importantly to me, when they left at 10pm every dish was done and put back, all the trash was gone, and my kitchen was perfect. It was like magic.
STACIE C.
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BAY AREA
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  22 PEOPLE
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For my 40th birthday party, I wanted throw an elegant, intimate dinner party with amazing food. We had just come back from Hawaii and Chef Kelley's Asian/Hawaiian-influenced menus were just what we were looking for. In short, the dinner was wonderful, and more than I could have ever expected. The food, of course, was delicious and beautifully plated. All our guests raved about it (and continue to, even now a week later). What went above and beyond was everything Chef Kelley did besides the food...he brought two wonderful servers/bartenders, he picked up the coffee and ice, he even went to the party rental place to suggest what plates, glasses etc. we should rent. Throughout the entire planning process, he was endlessly helpful and responsive to my many questions. We simply could not have had the perfect evening we had without him. Thank you for making my 40th birthday something I will always remember.
AYESHA M.
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NEW YORK
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  9 PEOPLE
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Kelley was a real pleasure to work with especially given the 24 notice to pull together a buffet dinner for 9. With very minimal direction he put together a healthy satisfying menu and gave us super clear instructions on best ways to heat, serve and present the food. Our guests were delighted and we're still enjoying the leftovers!
JULIE C.
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  6 PEOPLE
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Kelley is amazing. If you want to have a dinner that feels both easy and high-end, Kelley is the right man for the job. Everything went off without a hitch and our guests were extremely impressed with the food. Beyond that, Kelley is a dream - I'd invite him over for dinner at my place any time (even if he wasn't going to cook) and I think it's so important for the overall vibe to have someone you'd be down to hang out with in the kitchen.
CATHY V.
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  10 PEOPLE
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We hired Kelley to cater a casual dinner party for a group of friends at a vacation home in Tahoe. Kelley worked with me beforehand to come up with some seasonal menu suggestions and was happy to accommodate our dietary restrictions, tastes, and budget. He featured a lot of fresh, locally sourced, premium ingredients in a very tasty sounding four course menu, featuring an antipasto “grazing” platter, appetizer salad, mixed grill entrée and dessert. On the day, the dinner party exceeded up to my (very high) expectations. The food was delicious, portion sizes were very generous, and Kelley’s service was friendly and efficient. As one of my friends put it that evening, “dinner parties will never be the same again!” Definitely recommend!