Local Dish: Finch & Fork Welcomes New Chef

Finch & Fork Executive Sous Chef Peter Cham, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Executive Sous Chef Peter Cham, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara native Peter Cham recently took over the kitchen at Finch & Fork, when longtime Executive Chef James Siao left to expand his culinary horizons overseas at one of Kimpton’s international properties. Lucky for us, Cham has served as Siao’s right-hand-man for more than two years, and is eagerly up to the challenge of taking over the culinary helm at the Canary Hotel’s signature restaurant.

Finch & Fork's Salmon, with preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Salmon, with preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip, courtesy photo.

If our recent meal is any indication, Cham is more than up to the task. We put ourselves in his capable hands and sampled an excellent array of flavors, including delicious Blistered Shishito Peppers with charred lime aioli, crispy quinoa; Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon (even my “vegetable adverse” husband liked these flavors); and a mouthwatering preparation of Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread that I’m still dreaming about. Not only was this dish perfectly balanced, a portion of its proceeds are even donated to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.

Finch & Fork's Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Burrata & Spring Peas with preserved lemon, pickled shallots, mint, tangerine, sunflower seeds and grilled artisan bread, courtesy photo.

Also on the No Kid Hungry donation menu is a melt-in-your-mouth Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens. We also really enjoyed the unusual Salmon preparation, which included beluga lentils, asparagus, pancetta, green peppercorn hollandaise, capers and baby turnip.

Finch & Fork's Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Short Rib with parsnip purée, radish, gremolata and dandelion greens, courtesy photo.

Other highlights on Cham’s most recent dinner menu include Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli with house made sausage ragout, braised Tuscan kale, crème fraiche, fennel pollen and parmigiana; Kanpachi Crudo with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño; and Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower with romesco, hazelnut dukkah and lemon, courtesy photo.

A culinary grad from City College of San Francisco, Cham has worked and staged at some of San Francisco’s most notable restaurants, including Radius, Coi, Quince and Fifth Floor.

“There’s no better chef to take over the kitchen at Finch & Fork,” says James Siao. “Chef Cham is a natural leader who is extremely talented and passionate about what he does. He has always been invested in Finch & Fork and Santa Barbara’s community.”

Cham returned to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area in 2015, where he took post at the popular Hungry Cat before calling Finch & Fork his home. He says he plans to stay true to the high quality menus we’ve come to enjoy at Finch & Fork—”seasonally driven dishes served in simple, unfussy presentations with a touch of whimsy.”

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, The Drive Home, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, The Drive Home, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, Rattle and Hum, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s cocktail, Rattle and Hum, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Fire Roasted Milk Shake is a great way to top off your meal, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Fire Roasted Milk Shake is a great way to top off your meal, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork, Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, 805/879-9100. For more information, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 6, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Welcoming Fall With Finch & Fork’s Joe Dohany

Finch & Fork Cocktails, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Cocktails, courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

The spirits of fall are in the air, and Finch & Fork has a friendly new face behind the bar with an autumnal-inspired new menu. Joe Dohany—who most recently was a craft bartender at Shaker & Spear and Pennyroyal at Kimpton‘s Seattle property, The Palladian—is bringing a creative approach to the popular hotspot inside the downtown Santa Barbara Canary Hotel (31 W. Carrillo St.)

In addition to his mixology skills, Dohany went to culinary school, which definitely informs his holistic approach to creating cocktails.  His debut menu included half a dozen refreshing originals reflective of the season and the locale. While these will be switched up on a regular basis, Dohany assured us that the excellently balanced Witch’s Back—with Bulldog Gin, Strega orange liqueur, Pamplemousse Rose, lime and orange bitters, garnished with a fragrant sprig of rosemary (which resembles a witch’s broom)—will stay on the menu.

Finch & Fork's Witch's Back (left) and Rubies & Gold, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Witch’s Back (left) and Rubies & Gold, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Other Dohany creations on the menu at the moment are the aromatic Puck’s Potion with Ketel One Vodka, Dolin Blanc, jasmine tea syrup, lemon and peach bitters and a kiss of absinthe; the Buzz Around Town with lavender–infused Tanqueray Gin, blackberry, honey, lemon and soda water; and the Do or Do Not, made with Dewar’s Scotch, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, lime and Scrappy’s Orleans bitters, among others.

The night we were there, Dohany was working on a new seasonal libation called Rubies & Gold, featuring gold rum, lime, cranberry and Becherovka, an herbal liquor with the distinctly fall flavors of cinnamon, anise and cloves. Expect to see that on the menu soon, alongside old favorites like the Guava Margarita (jalapeno-infused El Jimador Tequila, lime and guava) and the Figueroa (fig-infused Wild Turkey, Demerara Syrup and bitters).

Finch & Fork's The Figueroa, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s The Figueroa, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I recommend you check out Finch & Fork on a Thursday night, when the bar features live music from 5-7 p.m. and an extended Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m.  Hope to see you there.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 14, 2016.