California Heartland Episode 910 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

Up next on California Heartland…

It’s the sushi chef showdown!

Billy Ngo! (Cheering)

But, while the masters take center stage the award-winning ingredient in this competition is rice.

I really believe in the product and uh it's real easy to sell something when you believe in it.

One grows and the other rolls it.  Meet the organic partnership these two forged from the field to sushi fame!

This is about the speed they would travel in the old days.

It’s a trip that dates back to California’s old west…We set the stage for a perfect trip to San Luis Obispo County.


Summer cooking and basil, a perfect combination. 

Master Gardener Kristine Hanson has a field day with herbs.  Tips on planting and growing – your own edible backyard!

That’s all next, on California Heartland.

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.

Chris Burrous: Californians love sushi! You might say we’re on a roll – making it a staple of “health inspired” cuisine!

Chris Burrous: Every two years there’s a live “throw down” of sorts for the who’s who of sushi chefs in California.

Emcee: Billy Ngo! (Cheering)

Chris Burrous: Representing Sacramento is Billy Ngo, part owner and executive chef of Kru Restaurant.

Crowd: Whooo! Billy!

Chris Burrous: He brought out the big guns for this kitchen competition.  He’s using fresh fish and produce, but insiders will tell you it’s all about the rice!

Randall Selland: Adding the right ingredients to make the sushi rice out of it so it’s not just cooking it, there’s a lot more to it.

Chris Burrous: Billy’s mastered the rice cooking technique but the real secret to his sushi success goes        back to the farm because every kernel he cooks is organic.

Chris Burrous: All the rice he uses is grown here, at the Rue & Forsman Ranch, a family farm located   forty minutes from the restaurant.

Chris Burrous: Michael Bosworth, the fifth generation owner of the farm oversees every aspect of production.  He believes in taking a personal approach when it comes to marketing his organic “ka hoo” rice.

Michael Bosworth: I really believe in the product and uh it's real easy to sell something when you believe in it and you have a lot of pride in what we're doing out here.  I think that comes off to the customer and that accessibility to the source of their food, I think it's important.

Chris Burrous: Talk about accessible.  It goes from the farm, to the bag- right to the restaurant, all delivered in person!

Chris Burrous: Hey Billy, how’s it going?

Billy Ngo: Hey Michael, how you doing?

Chris Burrous: Michael oversees the quality control of the rice.  And that’s something this chef   appreciates.

Billy Ngo: It’s local and it’s a single source supplier.  You know, I know exactly where it’s coming from and exactly who’s bringing it to me every week. 

Chris Burrous: Judging by this lunch crowd, his customers are happy with his ingredients.

Customer: It’s great, it’s fresh and you just feel healthy.

Chris Burrous: Michael’s pay off comes from seeing his product showcased in the best possible light by a chef who’s willing to put his food before his bottom line.

Chris Burrous: This stuff does cost more, why do you buy it?

Billy Ngo: Because it’s, it’s better, when he first talked to me I thought well that’s gonna’ cost more.   I don’t know if I wanna’ get that and when I actually went out to the lot and I saw and when Michael explained to me the difference in how it was grown I wanted to switch right away.

Chris Burrous: I heard you drove the harvester.

Billy Ngo: Yes, that was fun. (laugh)

Chris Burrous: So a little legwork and a trip out to the farm netted Michael a loyal client with a standing order of two hundred pounds a week!

Chris Burrous: But what is it about the combination of this farmer and this farm that results in a superior crop without the help of conventional fertilizers and herbicides?

Michael Bosworth: California has just a great Mediterranean climate to grow rice in.  It's got the delta breezes um in the summer time; you know the high heat that the rice needs.  And up in the north part, north of Sacramento it also has the clay soils that trap the water and make it more efficient to grow so all those make California a great place to grow rice.

Chris Burrous: But most of the credit has to go to the grower – for finding a way around chemicals!

Chris Burrous: Can you show us what a weed looks like and how do you kill them if you can't use spray?

Michael Bosworth: Here's a sedge plant for example. This is an aquatic plant, loves water so what we do is dry up the field for you know 2-3 weeks and that'll just starve these little puppies out of water.

Chris Burrous: But the rice survives?

Michael Bosworth: The rice survives, it's got a deeper root structure, and this has a shallower root structure.

Chris Burrous: Killing weeds with water.

Michael Bosworth: Exactly.

Chris Burrous: And before he plants the next crop, Michael does just the opposite – he uses water to sprout the weeds.

Michael Bosworth: So here we're just flushing this rice field with irrigation water and we're gonna put the water on, take it off very soon. That'll sprout a new crop of weeds and we'll come in and cultivate the land and wipe them out.

Chris Burrous: Come harvest time, these extra efforts pay off exponentially!

Michael Bosworth: Each one of these stalks that comes up will be an individual panicle which will have about 80-100 rice kernels in it.

Chris Burrous: And if this was in season there would be 80, 80, 80, 80. How many rice kernels in all from one seed?

Michael Bosworth: Could be 800-1000 seeds.

Chris Burrous: Wow.

Michael Bosworth: A lot of times the organic will have fewer seeds but each one of these will have its own panicle.

Chris Burrous: So it’s an issue of quantity vs. quality…

(Drum roll)

Chris Burrous: And in a competition like SushiMasters where quality is king…

Billy Ngo: Daikon next please.

Chris Burrous: Billy wouldn’t think of using anything else!

Emcee: Another bronze goes to chef Ngo!

Chris Burrous: He didn’t come out first this year but he continues to dish out winning plates every day at Kru with the help of his new partner in the field.

Michael Bosworth: I just take a lot of pride in being involved in agriculture in California and it's something we've been doing in my family for over 130 years.  So you know I wanna do everything possible to diversify and make that a possibility for my children and their children to be involved in it as well.

Amy Spithorst: Hi my name is Amy Spithorst and I am an Ag Tech Academy Teacher here at Florin High School. 

Amy Spithorst: Here at Florin High School we have a diverse set of learners that are attracted to the Ag program.  We have over 850 students enrolled.

Kyle Cost: When I first started at Florin I knew nothing about agriculture.  It was totally new to me and totally foreign.  By now, I know everything about it and I know that without it you’re basically nowhere in this world.

Amy Spithorst: The program is a comprehensive agriculture program and we’re a school within a school here at Florin High School.  We teach with other academic teachers and we’re a career core in agriculture.

Kyle Cost: My favorite part is definitely working with all the animals.  We research all different types of farming and try and get new ways of improving our green house and better ways to make a garden.

Jasmin Tuner: Before I didn’t really realize how important it was to be consistent with the watering and checking all the plants and making sure there are no bugs and everything like that.

Amy Spithorst: In the United States we have one of the most plentiful food supplies, and it comes from having good farming and ranching practices.  And I think it’s very important for our students to have a part in that, to understand it and as they go on to become future voters they can make good decisions.

Jasmin Tuner: It’s important because this is how we eat.  People study plants and different fruits and vegetables and this is what we need.  Ag Tech is an awesome program, I love it.

Chris Burrous: Forget what comes in the can because nothing compares to fresh garden beets.  The beet root is harvested primarily for its earthy flavored root, but many cook up the leaves as well.  The veggie might be known for being beet red but the beet comes in a variety of colors.  You can plant beets in January and February and expect to eat them come spring time.  Food and Lifestyle expert Laura McIntosh is bringing it home with a fabulous beet salad with goat cheese.

Laura McIntosh: Alright, our recipe- what are we doing today?

Molly Hawks: Alright we’re going to make a very simple salad out of soft ripened goat cheese, some baby beets and a little arugula.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, I’m not a fan of beets but I hear this salad is to die for.

Molly Hawks: It is, we do variations of this salad at our restaurant every fall.  And the beets if properly cooked are beautiful.

Laura McIntosh: They are, aren’t they?  Okay, so let’s show everyone how to do it.  What’s our first step?

Molly Hawks: Okay, so first we’re going to prepare the beets.  We’re just going to trim the tops off here.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, look at that color.

Molly Hawks: And the tail…yeah gorgeous color inside.

Laura McIntosh: Ah, that’s beautiful.

Molly Hawks: Many varieties, you can get the reds, the pinks, the yellows…

Laura McIntosh: Beautiful, they’re gorgeous.

Molly Hawks: We’re just going to peel this guy and you’re going to cut it up.  Or I can cut it. 

Laura McIntosh: Whatever you want, are we doing chunks?  I can do chunks nice and easy. 

Molly Hawks: Yeah.  Okay, go for it.

Laura McIntosh: I call that the caveman cut.  So we can do that, oh look how beautiful that is.  And then we’re sautéing this?

Molly Hawks: Yes.  Let this get nice and hot.

Laura McIntosh: Now, as far as sautéing, there’s always a trick to it a little bit.  Make sure your olive oil in your pan is nice and hot.

Molly Hawks: Absolutely, you don’t the caramelization on your vegetables or whatever you’re cooking unless you get the oil properly hot.

Laura McIntosh: Alright, so that’s a really good tip to use when you’re in the kitchen.

Molly Hawks: Alright, so it looks like we’re pretty good here.  So we’ll go ahead and toss these in.

Laura McIntosh: There we go.

Molly Hawks: Get them all in there and just let them rest for a little while until they get some nice color on them.

Laura McIntosh: Just let them do their thing, and we have some already done.  Let’s take a look at it just so we can see what they look like when they come out. 

Molly Hawks: Just a little olive oil, salt and pepper- and that’s all you need because the natural sugars come through.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, perfect.  That was easy, so far so good.

Molly Hawks: Okay, so now we can assemble our salad here.  Put a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper.  And just toss that up.

Laura McIntosh: What’s really nice is that these are simple ingredients; you’re highlighting the taste and flavor of the arugula, you’re not masking it with a lot of different…

Molly Hawks: Absolutely, and that’s our preferred style of cooking is just to start with the best ingredients and a simple preparation. 

Laura McIntosh: Alright, we are mixed.

Molly Hawks: Alright now I’m just going to take our goat cheese.  And this is a wheel of a soft, ripened goat cheese.  We’ve let this come up to room temperature so it’s nice and soft now.  I’m just going to cut it in half.  Now we can assemble our salad.  I’m just going to put our goat cheese here.

Laura McIntosh: This is what I love to watch, I love to watch the chefs put it together.

Molly Hawks: We’ll take some of our beets here; put them on the plate there.  Top it off with our beautiful arugula. 

Laura McIntosh: Ok, that’s great.

Molly Hawks: And last we can’t forget our walnuts. 

Laura McIntosh: No, of course our nuts here.  (laughs)

Molly Hawks: And these are just walnuts that have been lightly roasted and chopped up.  

Laura McIntosh: And remember when you toast any kind of nut; it brings out the oils which give it a little more flavor.  It just really, um, opens it up and makes it pop in your mouth. 

Molly Hawks: Absolutely.

Laura McIntosh: Molly, thank you so much.

Molly Hawks: You’re welcome.

Laura McIntosh: And if you don’t feel like making this at home, you can go to the restaurant- Hawks in Granite Bay. 

Molly Hawks: We’ll prepare it for you.

Laura McIntosh: Perfect!  Alright, now this is really good.

Jennifer Harrison: Take 100,000 people, add two tons of garlic cloves and what do you get?

Man: The garlic capitol of the world!

Jennifer Harrison: Otherwise known as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, this culinary carnival is rounding its 30th year.  By now garlic ice cream may not seem quite so crazy.

Festival goers: Your first couple bites you expect it to be vanilla and you get that like garlic.

Jennifer Harrison: And the unusual garlic treats keep the crowds coming for more.

Festival goers: Got gator tail…fried gator tail right here.  This is the kangaroo.

Jennifer Harrison: But this garlic gluttony wasn’t always a hit.  In fact foodies in the U.S. snubbed garlic the first quarter of the twentieth century and the festival originally came about to promote Gilroy’s home grown goodness and change the image of the stinky bulbs.

Don Christopher: You can't even believe the difference in the way garlic is accepted now.  You know when we started the average person in the U.S. ate 1 and half pounds of garlic per year, right now it's four pounds per year.

Jennifer Harrison: And this guy should know, Don Christopher of Christopher Ranch Garlic is the largest shipper of garlic worldwide.  He’s been with the festival since 1978 and watched garlic go from ugly ducking to center stage…and we mean center stage.

Emcee: Good afternoon!

Jennifer Harrison: Today the festival is hosting a garlic cooking showdown.

Emcee: We are going to bring you here in Gilroy a version of Iron Chef America right here on the stage.

Jennifer Harrison: Four executive chefs compete for $5,000 and 1,000 pounds of Christopher Ranch Garlic- the catch, they can bring a souse chef, their own tools of the trade, any food items they want, but they must incorporate a secret ingredient.  In this case it’s mushrooms, all while using garlic and within an hour.

Mark Ayers: Glad to be here, garlic- very important.  Everybody likes it, it’s extremely versatile.

Ryan Scott: I think garlic is a really like key honing ingredient that a lot of people surpass and don't actually use a lot.

Christophe Preyale: I like good garlic, brings good flavor.  It's good for your blood.

James Waller: Cooking the garlic in the cream kind of takes the bite off of it, you can do so much with it.

Jennifer Harrison: Now things are heating up and each chef uses garlic in their own unique way.

James Waller: I usually just put my head down and go for it. I’m extremely nervous going in.

Jennifer Harrison: Tell us what you made here today.

Ryan Scott: I don’t know. (laughs)

Jennifer Harrison: Our own Laura McIntosh joined the panel of judges who tasted and toured the action.  As the chefs spice up this garlic festival its clear there’s more to garlic than just slicing and dicing.

Ryan Scott: I took black fermented garlic which I got from Chinatown and squeezed it out and rubbed the outside the meat with that and that was the salty pasty aspect.  And then I took all the dry mushrooms and pulsed them in the blender and rolled them and then we seared that and with roasted mushrooms, young potatoes which are in season super soft- just grilled them and then pickled green beans in a red wine sauce.

Jennifer Harrison: These long roots utilize part of the plant most of us never see.  While Chef Christoph over here puts garlic to work in his Risotto- Chef James comes up with another recipe. 

James Waller: We made a pancetta wrapped filet with a garlic flan.  It's like a gratin, we blanch the garlic in some cream, we added some parmesan cheese and we baked it for about 20 minutes.

Laura McIntosh: The recipes were delicious; of course you are using garlic which tastes so great.  A variety of professional chefs out here, it was really difficult.

Emcee: The winner of Second Annual Showdown…James Waller!

James Waller: We're shocked…we're kinda humble, we kinda played with that a couple days ago- the trick was to put the garlic in the cream to take the bite out.

Jennifer Harrison: As the garlic festival marches on to another year—it seems this high stakes cook off is here to stay all for the love of garlic.

Don Christopher: I'm telling you, this is the food festival.  We need to do this, this is a great idea!

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

Melanie Kim: San Luis Obispo is already a beach and wine lover’s destination… but why not take in a little history and bounty of the county!

Melanie Kim: Paso Robles means “pass of the oaks,” which is what you’ll be doing old west style at Harris Stage Lines.

Tom Harris: People like the American West. They want to be a part of it.

Melanie Kim: And what better way to relive this region’s past than with a stagecoach ride?

Tom Harris: We do school field trips riding and driving lessons, we run our kids cowgirl and cowboy camps and then also run an adult cowboy camp.

Melanie Kim: Tom Harris, his wife Debby both former rodeo pros and their son, Cactus a trick roper combine their talents to make your visit feel as it you’re traveling in the 1800’s!

Tom Harris: They needed the coaches to run people up and down the state of California and also out of state.

Tom Harris: This is about the speed they would travel in the old days.

Melanie Kim: Speeding around in Tom’s Concord stage coach was the highlight for these kids, they traveled all the way from Connecticut.

Tom Harris: We entertain people and we do it the cowboy way. I always wanted to own a stagecoach since I was a little boy, so my dream came through in 1985.

Melanie Kim: At Harris Stage Lines, not only can you ride in a stage coach, you can also learn how to drive one!

Tom Harris: Are you getting’ it?

Melanie Kim: Yeah!

Melanie Kim: A unique experience for visitors and Tom.

Tom Harris: The object is to keep horsemanship alive and the American West alive. We're losing these things that are very important to our American heritage.

Melanie Kim: Now for an experience that‘ll really rub you the right way… just down highway 101 to Nipomo.

Melanie Kim: This is where you’ll find Deanne Coons farming what she calls the “quirkiest little plant,” the luffa.

Deanne Coons: It's actually a member of the gourd family of all things, like your zucchinis and squash and cucumbers.

Melanie Kim: What started out as a hobby with a handful of seeds is now a full time labor of love for Deanne, who harvests up to 7 thousand luffas a year.

Deanne Coons: I love showing and telling people about the life of a luffa.

Melanie Kim: There was so much interest that Deanne decided to make informational tours the focus of her luffa farming.

Deanne Coons: Even though we do have little flyers that show a vine, people come out all the time and they still get out with their water shoes some people get out with duffle bags and its got snorkel equipment in it.  And it's like no no, we'll show you.

Deanne Coons: Everywhere you see one of the yellow flowers the luffas are going to develop right out of the base of the flowers.

Melanie Kim: You will quickly see how this big vegetable, a delicacy in some cultures, and turns into something you use for bathing.

Deanne Coons: Instead of feeding it, it goes through a whole different lifecycle.  It sucks everything out, it’ll redistribute through its mother vine into every other luffa that is still growing until this guy goes from this big heavy heavy green to the lighter yellow and the lighter brown, until it actually turns brown on the vine.

Emanuel Castaneda: I think it’s good to get the kids out, get their hands on and they learn where these products come from.  We thought that maybe they come from the ocean, but they actually grow in a greenhouse here on a little farm.

Melanie Kim: After trekking around this coastal county, treat yourself to a stay at the luxurious Hotel Cheval.  With its equestrian them it’s reminiscent of a European Country Inn.

Judy Hudson: When they were thinking of a name they thought what would be better than Cheval which is French for horse.  So you see a little bit of that in the guest rooms, in the lobby.

Melanie Kim: And if you’re thinking a hotel named horse must have one of its own... You’d be right!

Judy Hudson: We have our Belgian draft horse Chester that pulls our Hotel Cheval carriage on the weekends.

Judy Hudson: It's become a real destination point.

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

Kristine Hanson: Most of us think of herbs as spices that come in bottles, cans, or fresh packages from the grocery store.  But these all come from plants that are versatile and easy to grow in your own yard.  So, stop paying the big bucks for these little clippings and buy some plants that will not only spice up your food, but your landscaping too!

Kristine Hanson: You don’t need to grow herbs in just a pot or a container in your backyard.  Consider growing plants and herbs and trees in your landscaping.  Well where do you start?  I would start with a tree.  We all need trees in our landscaping and this is a perfect one.  This is a native California Bay Laurel.  It grows wild everywhere so you know it loves our California climate.  It’s evergreen, it’s going to grow large and it’s drought resistant.  Plus, it’s got this great evergreen look, and it’s got leaves that you can use dried in your cooking all year long.

Kristine Hanson: Next I would suggest planting some rosemary.  No garden should be without a rosemary bush.  Not only is it a favorite in the kitchen, but it’s a fabulous landscape plant.  This is an upright rosemary, it gets bright blue flowers in the Spring.  And as you can see it’s going to grow tall so you can use it in the back of the garden, as a screen, along a fence line or in front of a building.  You can buy different sizes and place those in front of your trees.  There are also prostrates or low growing varieties of rosemary that will grow down a hillside or along walkways.  These two are edible and can be used in the kitchen all year long.

Kristine Hanson: Then there’s thyme and this is my very favorite herb in the kitchen, I use it for salad dressings, but it’s also my favorite landscape plant.  It’s a mounding, airy evergreen plant.  I love this lemon-lime or variegated type of color for the landscaping.  This will mound up and can be used as a ground cover.  You can even take some of these and place them in rock outcroppings; they’re going to cascade down the rocks.  And any time you need some you can pinch off a little bit of this and use it in the kitchen all season long. 

Kristine Hanson: Lavender is another great herb that’s great in the landscape.  Look at it here, it’s a shrubby edging plant, it’s got a grey green element, lends itself well to your garden and it has decorative uses, aromatherapy uses and can be used in your kitchen too.

Kristine Hanson: Summer cooking and basil- yummy! The perfect combination.  Cuttings you get at the farmers market won’t last you all season long, but a plant will.  They’re annuals, they come in green or purple, you just need to mix them into the garden.  And keep them pinched, so you have bright green leaves all summer long until the very first winter frost.

Kristine Hanson: If you don’t have a garden, certainly a container is a good alternative.  As you can see here it’s got a little bit of everything that will last you most of the year.  It’s got rosemary, thyme, chives and annual basil.  And I’ve just given you a few suggestions of herbs that you can put in your garden, there’s still marjoram, oregano, mint- but use your imagination.  The idea is that you don’t have to have a herb garden- just a garden for your herbs. 

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

To order a copy of this show, visit us online or call 1-888-814-3923 the cost is $14.95 plus shipping

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