San Luis Obispo’s newest luxury destination getaway, Hotel Cerro, offers a relaxing atmosphere and exquisite dining with Chef James Anderson.
By Lynn O'Neill
Listed among “The Most Anticipated Hotel & Resort Openings in 2020” by Red Tricycle (redtri.com) is San Luis Obispo’s newest luxury resort, Hotel Cerro. The upscale Central Coast getaway offers both travelers and the local community sustainably designed lodgings, full-service amenities, and inspiring menu selections at the on-site signature restaurant, Brasserie SLO. “Brasserie SLO and our sweet shop, Life of Pie, are aiming to be a new cornerstone of the community. We’re ready to open the doors to our neighbors and friends,” said Chef Anderson.
Hotel Cerro’s renowned luxury hospitality creators, Beverley and Shaun Matthews, were long-time enthusiasts of Chef Anderson’s delicious cuisine and often visited the Carmel restaurant where he held the position as Chef de Cuisine. “Our pizzas were very popular, and it was completely by chance I insisted a guest try the champignon flatbread, and that guest happened to be Beverley.”
The talented duo envisioned their new hotel’s restaurant as a comfortable atmosphere that served as a home-away-from-home where visitors can relax by an open wood fire while enjoying local wines and dine al fresco. Chef Anderson’s background working at other luxury resorts, paired with Beverley and Shaun’s love of his food, made him the front-runner for Executive Chef. In this new role, he gained the opportunity to spearhead the “Modern Mediterranean” style to the hotel’s restaurant, as well as oversee all culinary operations at the property.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR GREAT MENUS
With over a decade of experience in the culinary arts, Chef Anderson created the Brasserie SLO from the ground up. “Opening a restaurant is like starting with a completed painting and taking off paint layer by layer until there’s nothing but pencils marks, and then putting it back together,” said Chef Anderson.
“There’s a romantic aspect to the process; crafting menus, choosing plates and flatware patterns, taking trips to farms and wineries, and establishing new relationships,” he continues. “Beyond that, 90% of the critical work goes into building an efficient work environment that can stand up to waves of guests. Every extra step someone takes to complete a task costs a business, so choosing the right equipment and design can make or break you.”
Menus by Chef Anderson are a head-to-tail, root-to-fruit philosophy executed through meticulous sourcing of the best local produce, proteins, and artisanal goods for his kitchen. He tapped into all
including freshly grown ingredients taken from Hotel Cerro’s edible garden, and local growers to supply seasonal produce, and partnering with Jordano’s Foodservice. Chef Anderson’s inventive dishes focus on flavor, texture, and applying the right cooking method. “There’s an added layer of stress for the creative types, as to whether or not your vision will come out as originally planned, and if you can sustain it,” says the Chef. “We strive to choose the best ingredients and stand by our products, and beyond that, we just keep adding love until it works!” His unique recipes give each of the menus its
own distinct feel while still highlighting a contemporary Californian influence. The brunch and lunch services at Brasserie SLO cater to a more casual crowd. They include delectable menu items like Moules Frites, burgers made from grass-fed beef, and a notable selection of pizzas and flatbreads cooked in a wood-burning oven. Dinner service is available on either the patio or in the main dining room for a more formal experience. The seasonal menus offer a variety of options including Ricotta Gnocchi made with fresh ricotta cheese, crusted in a cast-iron skillet with confit summer vegetables. A crowd pleaser is the Steak Bordelaise prepared on an Argentine-style grill with oak embers that cooks meats to a beautiful finish.
QUALITY BEEF FOR HEAD-TO-TAIL PREPARATION
While Hotel Cerro was still in its early stages of construction, Jordano's Account Executive, Jacob Moss, reached out to Chef Anderson to offer Jordano's services in sourcing products. Moss's prior experience in the culinary arts proved to be an excellent resource for Chef Anderson. His understanding of a kitchen's needs helped Chef Anderson procure the best products for his operation. "The access to
Santa Carota Beef was key for us, and cemented our relationship with Jordano's over another broadliner," he said. "We try to source ethically, having the grass-fed, carrot finished beef on-hand for grinding burgers and smoking brisket for brunch is awesome. We are also able to put offcuts to use and reduce waste, which furthers our "nose-to-tail" approach."
The waste-reducing eating philosophy of “nose-to-tail” that Chef Anderson refers to utilizing every part of an animal in food preparation. A traditional practice still common in other countries is gaining momentum amongst artisanal kitchens, like Brassiere SLO, who strive to incorporate sustainable practices while reducing cost by using more of the animal. Higher grades of proteins are essential to execute this methodology, and Brasserie SLO can lean on Jordano’s Foodservice to connect them to the right protein program that best suits their needs.