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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Kevin's kitchen Kevin's kitchen (April 02, 2003)

This Atherton kitchen is more than a show place. It's where Kevin Brown turns out gourmet meals for friends and family.

By Jane Knoerle

Almanac Lifestyles Editor

Some Atherton kitchens sport stoves that are never used, like the La Cornue French stove (price tag, $13,000) one homeowner considers "a work of art, only to be admired."

That's not the case in Kevin Brown's and Jenny Redo's Atherton kitchen, which will be featured on the Atherton Dames kitchen tour this Friday.

Mr. Brown is the cook in the family and his GE Monogram Series commercial range (4 burners plus grill and griddle, all gas) plus two electric ovens get a real work out.

He not only prepares family meals for his wife, Jenny, and two little daughters, but loves to cook for guests. A favorite form of entertainment is having members of the "wine group" over.

About a dozen couples gather informally for monthly blind tastings where a different wine grape is featured each time. The cooks in the group (mostly men) also bring food to share.

We're not talking chips and dip or tuna casserole here. These fellows are gourmet cooks and there's quite a bit of friendly competition going on.

Take the New Year's Eve party at Kevin's and Jenny's house. There was caviar, chicken sate with Indian and Thai sauces, and lobster and chocolate fondue with all the trimmings.

The couples all brought their kids, who were fed first, then left in the care of a sitter while the grown-ups dined. "Everyone has kids or is expecting, so there were lots of kids there," says Jenny. She and Kevin find this arrangements works better than everyone trying to get sitters to go out to a fine restaurant.

The couple enjoys having friends and family over and are looking forward to summer parties outside, where they have a swimming pool, hot tub, three gardens (vegetable, perennial and shade), a greenhouse, an ornate fountain operated by remote control, and a 5-foot-long Viking grill. "We just put in a new swing set and playhouse," says Mr. Brown.

A more formal party is scheduled for May 17, when they host a $1,000-per-plate dinner to benefit the American Cancer Society. Sean O'Brien, sous chef at Gary Danko restaurant in San Francisco, will prepare dinner for 14 on the deck "under the stars." If the evening is cool, heating lamps will keep diners warm.

Another big bash on July 12 will celebrate the birthdays of all four family members. "Ancient Rome" will be the theme for the party, with Paula LeDuc as caterer. Will the guests wear togas? "I expect somebody will," says Mr. Brown.

They are also planning a donors' appreciation cocktail party for the Clused@r the Addicott dinner, the "celebrity chefs" chose an all-seafood menu. They spent the afternoon doing prep work and stressed the importance of having all your ingredients ready when cooking for guests. Kevin Brown does most of his shopping at Roberts market in Woodside. "I'm there at least three times a week," he says. Most of the ingredients for the dinner, including the sea bass and scallops, came from Roberts. First course was pan-seared scallops served with a ginger-lime coulis. The plump single scallop was presented on a bed of cilantro. Second course was a crab cake atop an avocado and mixed green salad with baby spinach, served with wasabi-ginger vinaigrette. "I think it's important to bring the ginger flavor into the second course," said Mr. Cashman. Sea bass served on a vegetable terrine with a rice wine-shitake reduction was the main course. The terrine was composed of very thin layers of eggplant, leeks, squash and red bell pepper. Mr. Cashman changed terrine seasonings from Italian to Asian to blend with the rest of the dinner. The rice wine-shitake reduction, which simmered all afternoon, was also used to season the rice. Both men favor Asian or fusion cuisine, partly because as software executives they have traveled so extensively in the Far East. Fine wines accompanied each course. K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City is where Mr. Brown shops for wine. "I don't need a wine cellar, I just go to their old and rare wine section," he says. Mr. Cashman, whose cellar boasts more than 2,000 bottles, makes trips from the East Bay to shop at K&L. Berries, litchi fruit and coconut flambe served over vanilla bean ice cream made a spectacular flaming dessert. Mr. Brown melted a bit of butter and brown sugar in the pan before adding the fruit, then flamed it with brandy. "You can even use frozen berries in this sauce," he said. The dinner was elegant, with a subtle blend of flavors that segued seamlessly into each course. The four-course meal left guests sated, not stuffed. Fine food and wine are important to Mr. Brown and his friends, but as he says, "They are a set of folks who are enthusiastic (about food and wine), not snobby." to cook for guests. A favorite form of entertainment is having members of the "wine group" over.

About a dozen couples gather informally for monthly blind tastings where a different wine grape is featured each time. The cooks in the group (mostly men) also bring food to share.

We're not talking chips and dip or tuna casserole here. These fellows are gourmet cooks and there's quite a bit of friendly competition going on.

Take the New Year's Eve party at Kevin's and Jenny's house. There was caviar, chicken sate with Indian and Thai sauces, and lobster and chocolate fondue with all the trimmings.

The couples all brought their kids, who were fed first, then left in the care of a sitter while the grown-ups dined. "Everyone has kids or is expecting, so there were lots of kids there," says Jenny. She and Kevin find this arrangements works better than everyone trying to get sitters to go out to a fine restaurant.

The couple enjoys having friends and family over and are looking forward to summer parties outside, where they have a swimming pool, hot tub, three gardens (vegetable, perennial and shade), a greenhouse, an ornate fountain operated by remote control, and a 5-foot-long Viking grill. "We just put in a new swing set and playhouse," says Mr. Brown.

A more formal party is scheduled for May 17, when they host a $1,000-per-plate dinner to benefit the American Cancer Society. Sean O'Brien, sous chef at Gary Danko restaurant in San Francisco, will prepare dinner for 14 on the deck "under the stars." If the evening is cool, heating lamps will keep diners warm.

Another big bash on July 12 will celebrate the birthdays of all four family members. "Ancient Rome" will be the theme for the party, with Paula LeDuc as caterer. Will the guests wear togas? "I expect somebody will," says Mr. Brown.

They are also planning a donors' appreciation cocktail party for the Cl