California Heartland Episode 906 Transcript

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at .

Coming up on an all new season of California Heartland.

I always remember when one of the lasting images in Vietnam was leaving my grandmother behind I will always remember my grandmother standing at the door and crying.

She escaped the fall of Saigon and later used that courage to build the lives of immigrant farmers -- by hiring them.  Meet Mai Pham – a renowned chef who’s life journey–created a strong recipe for success.


It's one of the most beautiful ranches I've ever seen.

Some of Petaluma’s best kept secrets—are out. Here—we discover a picture perfect couple--teaching art-- in one of California’s oldest cities.


Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you’re going to have the greatest vegetable garden on the block.

Master Gardener Fred Hoffman gives us tips on growing the perfect vegetable garden in raised beds.

Chris Burrous: from your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing, this is California Heartland.

Mai Pham: My family came over from Vietnam. We actually fled Saigon, a couple of days before the fall of Saigon April 30th 1975. Like the experience of so many Vietnamese refugees in this country. It was a very traumatic time for us. We were basically plucked out of our homes in the middle of the night. I remember leaving my grandmother behind and while we were leaving I will always remember my grandmother standing at the door and crying.

Chris Burrous: More then 30 years have passed since that unforgettable night in Saigon—but the courage, strength and pride for what she left behind—have driven chef Mai Pham to dream big.

Chris Burrous: you’re checking every dish.

Mai Pham: It’s sort of my job, one of the things that is challenging about food is that every single detail every single movement has to be correct.

Chris Burrous: Mai’s attention to detail here at lemongrass restaurant includes using the freshest ingredients possible…most grown by this local family of Vietnamese farmers-- Ken and Oanh Phan - they provide all of her exotic herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Mai Pham: Oh my god, look at these beautiful fresh basil. 

Mai Pham: It’s a great story. I met them many years ago  when I first opened the restaurant almost 20 years ago and I was looking for fresh herbs, back then it was very difficult to find any of these ingredients.  They were at the farmers market and they had two small baskets. Every weekend I would go there and buy everything they had and I asked them if they’d grow more so that we could have them at the restaurant.

Mai Pham: It was very difficult they didn’t speak any English and so what they did know how to do was a little bit of farming. 

Chris Burrous: But Mai knew a little bit about business—and when she combined that with her dedication to her Vietnamese heritage, she planted the seeds for a long partnership—helping people from her homeland help her.

Mai Pham: I begged them to please grow more herbs, I’ll buy them and the only way to do it at the time was to say I’ll buy everything you grow. And here we are 20 years later we’re still buying from them now we have wonderful beautiful herbs especially in the summertime and they are very successful now they own at least 25 acres of land.

Chris Burrous: This is a family of refugees who now own their own property here and we see as they slowly make improvements as the business improves, tile, new front doors does that make her proud to keep improving life?

Mai Pham: She said she’s a lot happier now, she said it’s been her dream to have a piece of land to her own.

Chris Burrous: Mai’s struggle to get where she is today is something she never loses sight of…it’s why working with farmers like Ken and Oanh means so much to her.

Mai Pham: They were talking about how they bought a very small boat because they couldn’t afford a nice boat and they fixed it up and bought a little motor and the family escaped in the middle of the night and they managed to get near Thailand the gulf of Siam and that’s when they were picked up by a large ship. So life was so terrible that they were willing to risk their lives to escape Vietnam.

Chris Burrous: How different is this to how it’s done in Vietnam.

Ken Phan: This is how we do it back in the old days, exactly the same.

Chris Burrous: The Phan’s grow a variety of south East Asian herbs here at their south Sacramento farm.

Mai Pham: Smell this one, its fish mint.

Chris Burrous: Smells like trout.

Chris Burrous: In addition to running lemon grass, Mai teaches, develops food products…and writes books

Mai Pham: Health and wellness is certainly a big issue in the food service industry, both from a consumer stand point and a chef standpoint.

Chris Burrous: So while Mai carves a niche in the fresh and healthy food arena she’s also managed to launch this family of refugees into a world of independence…by creating a valuable relationship…that grew out of mutual need...

Mai Pham: Well it’s very much an immigrant story, it’s a refugee story we were political refugees when we came here we had no idea of what the future would hold.

She said that this is what they know how to do and they want it there’s this great ambition and they want it there’s a dream and they need to fulfill.

Chris Burrous: Prime rib is considered a main attraction for a fine dining experience.  Beef is one of America’s number one sources of protein.  And beef cattle is one of California’s most important agricultural products.   Food and life-style expert—Laura McIntosh serves up a delicious prime rib dinner with a guest chef from saddles steakhouse.

Laura McIntosh: Well thanks everyone for joining us back, now this is really a treat and Dana I’m so glad, not only are you showing us this recipe, but the experience you have cooking prime rib is unsurpassed, look at the size of this prime rib.  How many prime ribs do you cook a day at saddles?

Dana Jaffe: About six.

Laura McIntosh: About six.  So we're gonna get all the information from the expert, so that we can do it at home nice and easy.

Dana Jaffe: When you go into the market, they're going to either sell it as a prime rib or a rib roast.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Dana Jaffe: You need to have at least four bones for the prime rib to cook properly.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, all right, four bones.

Dana Jaffe: For this, you're going to feed between 10-12 people.

Laura McIntosh: Perfect.

Dana Jaffe: Even if a few of them are big eaters, okay?

Laura McIntosh: Okay, good, good.

Dana Jaffe: So what we're going to do is we're going to coat this prime rib with a rub. All right, this is my rub, which I make for the restaurant in huge quantities.

Laura McIntosh: Well, for that many, I would imagine...

Dana Jaffe: What I’ve got in this is juniper berry, whole black pepper, whole mustard seed. I have some whole fennel seed.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, yeah, look at that fennel.

Dana Jaffe: And these we grind together, and then we toss it with sea salt.  What you really don't want to use is table salt.

Laura McIntosh: Right.

Dana Jaffe: Cause it's going to make your roast very salty. So we're actually going to apply a little bit of olive oil.

Dana Jaffe: Oh, we're going to put a little bit on, and we're gonna rub it all over. This particular olive oil is what's called a monocultura. It is an olive oil that's made from a single type of olive.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, right.

Dana Jaffe: In this case, it's the picholine.

Laura McIntosh: Mmm-hmm, the little itty-bitty.

Dana Jaffe: And these are also known as finishing oils, because they're almost too good to put in anything.

Laura McIntosh: So this is the type of oil that my Italian aunt would drink at night before she goes to bed.

Dana Jaffe: Correct, correct, and she'd be very lucky if she did.

Laura McIntosh: Yes, she did. All right, how much of the--

Dana Jaffe: We want to crust the rub on pretty generously.  I will mention that there are lots of rubs that are available on the market that are pre-made, that you just buy in little cans, and they are all perfectly fine. Some of 'em are really nice. I grind all of these together in my coffee mill.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, nice, yes.

Dana Jaffe: And just make sure you clean it out really well before you have coffee.

Dana Jaffe: Okay, so I believe we are good to go.

Laura McIntosh:: Our oven is at 300 degrees, we’re ready to pop it in.  We have one already in the oven. And the trick to prime rib,
Right, is letting it sit after you get it out of the oven.

Dana Jaffe: That is correct.

Laura McIntosh: How long will we let it sit, Dana?

Dana Jaffe: Um, 15-20 minutes.  So we'll go ahead and put this one in.

Laura McIntosh: Look at that.  I think it looks absolutely beautiful, a little heavy but beautiful.  It’s one thing to watch the recipe being done, it’s another thing reading the recipe on the website, but seeing the final plate really gives you that feeling that not only can you do it, but it’s going to taste great.  Ok so we’re going to cut that and see what it looks like. 

Dana Jaffe: Yes we are, and I have a big meat fork here which is really handy for lifting it off of the pan.  And I have a beautiful knife.

Laura McIntosh:Yeah that’s a big one, and remember everyone likes to do prime rib whenever you can get it and whenever you have a great party, and you want to something top notch, this is a recipe you want to do.

Dana Jaffe: I’m going to set it right there, over on it’s side.

Laura McIntosh: See this is perfect, I would be very very happy. 

Dana Jaffe: And set the rest on a platter, and it can go on your dining room table.

Laura McIntosh:Are you happy?

Dana Jaffe: I am happy.

Laura McIntosh : Happy with horseradish au jus, look at that gorgeous piece of prime rib there.  Are you intimidated, I don’t think so because we did it right here, outside on bringing it home, you can do it in your kitchen.

Laura McIntosh: Dana it’s not that heavy. It’s beautiful I love it.

Hi my name is Jamella and this is my California heartland. I take care of the sheep everyday. I feed them and give them water and I give them alfalfa. This is their grain. This is Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell is my favorite one.They are all eating the weeds around the garden. I like taking care of them a lot. Thank you for seeing my California Heartland. 

Chris Burrous: Just 20 minutes east of los Angeles, in the town of Sierra Madre stands a stunning Victorian house …and behind it… a dirt drive way that leads people back in time to an old fashioned barn, acres of 100-year-old citrus trees and a tiny gift shop.

Jeff Ward: Hi, How are you? Nice to see you.

Chris Burrous: It’s here where you’ll find Jeff Ward of E. Waldo Ward & Son interacting with their loyal customers.

Chris Burrous: Shoppers like Robert and Norma Broyles don’t mind crowding into this tiny space because they say the ward family makes and sells the best gourmet jams and jellies in southern California.

Norma Broyles: It's just a very old fashioned setting that reminds me of my childhood; I’m ancient, in my 70's!  You don't think of a neighborhood where you could come up a country road and go shopping.  Not in Los Angeles county, especially.

Jeff Ward: Yeah, we feel very lucky being in a residential area, the town kind of grew up around us.

Jeff Ward: Look at these trees.

Richard Ward: Yeah, good crop on them.

Chris Burrous: The popular jam comes fresh from these old trees, and is the driving force behind this small farming business started in the late 1800’s, by Jeff’s great-grandfather, E. Waldo Ward.

Jeff Ward: My great grandfather came to sierra Madre in 1891 from New Jersey, and he had the idea to make marmalade that rivaled orange marmalade coming from England at the time. So when he felt he perfected the formula, he started the company in 1917 so we've carried on his tradition, you know, same recipes, since he began.

Richard Ward: It's just been a business that's evolved over the years, and nobody really had plans to make it last that long, and 100 years, and ah, during the depression of course when times were tough, he had to sell a lot of the property off.

Your dad always says, go get the bottoms one first.

Chris Burrous: This family passion has spread to the 4th generation of ward family jam makers.  Their recipe for success? Sticking to their great-grandfather’s formula of high-standards, using only the freshest fruit - and above all, having a close-knit, hard working family.

Pamela Ward: We worked on the farm here, pretty much starting from the time we were little, 5, 6, sweeping floors, and then it evolved into pouring jam and that was way before we had the big machines.

Jennifer Schemp: We would earn a coke out of the coke machine for 10 cents that was our pay!

Jeff Ward: Having a 4th generation company with a lot of history behind it that's what we try to market behind our product, it's not just the quality but the history so we hope people enjoy what we do.

Chris Burrous: It’s clear that keeping with tradition is important to the ward family, including the use of some of the original equipment, like this 70 year- old chipper Richard is using to slice up the orange peels.

Richard Ward: Some of the equipment is pretty new and up to date, the boilers and equipment in the kitchen and although the orange chipper was bought in 1930, it's still like a brand new one and it works fine for us.

Chris Burrous: But beyond the fruit preserves—the wards have recently branched out – producing other fine foods and items for their wholesale business ... Like bbq sauce.

Jeff Ward: We focus mostly on whole sale clients, these are mostly mom and pop stores, gourmet specialty stores, and restaurants and we manufacture for them, and usually most of the business is private label so that's what keeps us busy.

Chris Burrous: Keeping busy, keeping the company small yet profitable and most importantly, keeping up a simpler way of life.

Richard Ward: I think we have the best of two worlds, we're close to our job, we just walk to work and everyday is a challenge.

Jeff Ward: Being in Los Angeles County and having 3 acres of land with citrus trees is just very unusual, and to be making marmalade from those trees is really, we're very lucky.

Chris Burrous: Pack your bags and grab your boots, it’s time to hit the road, with the Ag Traveler!

Melanie Kim: Petaluma is one of California’s oldest cities…for one hundred and fifty years, this Sonoma county capitol of chickens and cabernets has provided a picture perfect backdrop for tourism all year round…

Melanie Kim: Have you ever been driving through the countryside and then come upon a scene that was so beautiful it was like a painting?  Well now there's a place in the Petaluma ranch country where you can put an agricultural landscape on canvas

Melanie Kim: Sally and Mike Gale own Chileno Valley Ranch.  Here the two raise cattle, grow organic apple orchards—and offer art work shops

Sally Gale: Plein air painting is the best. It's a way of relating to the environment or to the landscape very pleasantly.

Melanie Kim: Workshop guests stay in this restored ranch house on land that’s been in Sally’s family since 1862.

Sally Gale: It's not like a regular inn where people come to be served; they actually come to learn something and to experience the beauty they see around them.

Carol Kummer: It's like a work of art, I mean it's though they've made their own painting.

Carol Kummer: It's one of the most beautiful ranches I’ve ever seen.

Melanie Kim: Sally invites acclaimed local artists like Randy Sexton to teach the art of plein air.

Randy Sexton: There's a special light, it’s just a beautiful place.

Melanie Kim: Sally and Mike also paint a different picture here.

Sally Gale: We’re primarily ranchersthis is a grass fed beef operation we sell directly to our customers quarters, halves and wholes. We have organic apples we have a u pick operation from August to November.

Mike Gale: The more we can encourage them to come and visit the ranch and see how these animals are raised I think they'll get a much better appreciation for the differences between what I call industrial beef and those that live their entire life here on the ranch.

Melanie Kim: Have you ever been in any of the paintings?

Mike Gale: No, my truck was though.

Sally Gale: It never looked so good, it's pretty banged up.

Melanie Kim: Another must stop in Petaluma is Angelo’s meats where you’ll no doubt be charmed by this former Italian policeman.

Angelo: This in the bidiness is called a pork butt don't tell me why because it comes from the front.

Melanie Kim: He’s well known for his sausages, tri-tip, bacon, salami, linguisa and jerky.

Customer: I used to bring my pigs here, for him to chop up and all that good stuff.

Melanie Kim: Why is Angelo’s stuff so good?

Customer: Because of Mr. Angelo.

Customer: He probably don’t even remember me.

Melanie Kim: Angelo, do you remember this nice lady?

Angelo: Yeah. 

Melanie Kim: Angelo’s meats are made with some not so secretive seasonings. 

Melanie Kim: And now, on to another Petaluma feast…

Melanie Kim: It’s literally a feast for the eyes and the nose…

Ron Robertson: What most people do when they go out and buy roses is the first thing they do is they smell it, and most of the time you don’t because they’re grown under glass.  And, ours being grown outdoors you get the full fragrance, and the trade it’s called garden roses.

Melanie Kim: Garden valley ranch has the distinction of being one of just two garden rose operations in the U.S.

Ron Robertson: We grow 85 different varieties of cut roses. 

Melanie Kim: Stroll through nine acres covered with one hundred thousand blooming roses—all grown organically.

Ron Robertson: We don’t use any chemicals whatsoever in growing our roses, so this is Fair Bianca, this is our most popular rose. 

Melanie Kim: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rose with that many petals before.

Ron Robertson: It has over 100 petals on it and this is the one with the muir scent to it.

Melanie Kim: Garden valley ranch is popular for more than just their fair Bianca’s...

Ron Robertson: We also do weddings. We have a cottage where you can stay overnight as a guest we do tours and we have a nursery.

Melanie Kim: Petaluma, it’s a place to satisfy your need for creativity, and satisfy your senses of sight taste and smell.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard; try these tips on doing it Home Grown.

Fred Hoffman: Where can you find the healthiest, freshest vegetables for your family?  Why, in your own backyard of course!  Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you’ll have the greatest vegetable garden on the block.  The key to any successful garden, location, location, location.  Vegetables love full sun, give them at least 6 hours a day or more is better.  When you build your garden, run your rows East West, that’ll take maximum advantage of the sun.  And when you plant your gardens put the taller growing plants, like tomatoes, on the north end so it won’t shade out smaller growing plants, like basil or peppers. 

Fred Hoffman: A raised bed can be as simple as a mound of dirt, perhaps 16 inches tall and 4 feet wide.  Or it can be fancy like this, made out of redwood or brick or whatever you have handy.  One piece of advice when you’re building your raised bed, you can make it any length that you want, but the width is important, don’t make it wider than 4 feet wide, because you want to be able to reach across the middle to pull out weeds without falling into the bed.  Soils in raised beds warms up quicker in the spring time, means your plants get off to a great start.

Fred Hoffman: This is the best stuff that you can add to your soil, its organic compost and what organic compost does is it feeds the soil. To rotatil or not to rotatil, that is the question.  What are you suppose to do with this load of compost you just dumped in your Fred Hoffman: garden bed? Well, old timers used to rotatil, now the thinking is all you need to do is lay it on top and spread it out, and before you even think about planting, you need to think about water. In my opinion, the best irrigation system for your yard is a drip irrigation system. And my favorite is this, it’s called an in line emitter system. You can’t see the emitters, but they’re built into this pipe, and they’re spaced about one foot apart. They’re one gallon per hour emitters. On a drip irrigation system on every emitter as the water drips out, the water is going to spread out underground at a radius of 12-18 inches. So you want to space any irrigation lines about 18 inches apart so you have full coverage of a garden bed. Well it looks like our drip irrigation system is working and as it turns out, its dripping about every foot which is what we want, and you know, it’s time to plant.

Fred Hoffman: One thing I like about a drip emitter system like this is the emitters are spaced 1 foot apart and it makes it really easy to figure out where to put the plant.  For instance, tomatoes like to be about 3 feet apart, so I just count emitters…1…2…3. Well I’m going to show you a little trick; it’s a pretty little nifty trick that you may not know about tomatoes. First of all I’m going to plant it where the emitter is to be sure it gets water, and then I’m going to dig as deep as I can to get a nice deep hole, tomatoes will actually form roots all along this main stem here. So, I’m going to see how deep I can get this in. And, I can see I can get it up to about there.  So what I’m gonna do when I pop this out of the container, first thing I’m going to do is free up the roots. And you can be gentle, just loosen them up a little bit.  And then I’m going to prune off the lower sets of leaves on these tomato plants. Now as I put the dirt back in, in time there will be roots forming all along where I buried it, and you’re going to have a stronger healthier plant. 

Fred Hoffman: Well we’ve fertilized regularly, we’ve watered regularly and yet the biggest task remains, and that’s to harvest all those beautiful vegetables you’re going to picking all summer.  Gardening is fun for the family, and it’s healthy too, plant a vegetable garden today! And, if you don’t mind I have to finish up some planting.

Chris Burrous: That’s California Heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

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California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at