Max Schacher, chef and co-owner of the Kenwood Restaurant and Bar
Max Schacher, executive chef and co-owner of the Kenwood Restaurant and Bar, is used to being on the move.
Growing up in Geneva, Switzerland, he first began his cooking career via apprenticeships, moving around Zurich, and then to Italy and France. In 1970, Schacher moved across the pond to Sonoma Valley, to visit friends, and eventually to assist in opening a new restaurant in Sonoma called Au Relais.
It was in Sonoma that Schacher met his wife, Susan, who grew up in the area. However, Schacher wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. After the opening of Au Relais, he spent a short time at La Mirabelle in San Francisco and then, in 1976 the Schachers took off on an opened-ended sailing trip in their 38-foot Javelin sloop.
After a number of years of sailing and living abroad – three years of it in Asia – the Schachers landed in Hawaii and Max took a job as chef at a luxury resort on the Big Island. However, the Schachers soon got itchy feet again and returned to the Bay Area, where Max worked at Chez Michel and began teaching at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
After almost two decades of working for other people, Max began to feel it was time to be his own boss. In 1981, the Schachers moved north to Ross, opening Coquelicot, which means poppy in French. Five years later, with more experience under their belts, they returned to where it all began and purchased the building once occupied by The Capri Restaurant in Kenwood. After a full remodel, Max and Susan threw open the doors to the Kenwood Restaurant and Bar in March 1987.
Since then, the Kenwood Restaurant has garnered critical acclaim and accumulated local regulars who come for the hamburgers or the wine or the company.
For 25 years, the community of Kenwood has been able to hold on to the Schachers, although they still travel regularly on holidays, but all good things must come to an end. Last month, Max announced that he is selling Kenwood Restaurant (“Business Beat,” Aug. 15) and there are rumors that he may be retiring. When asked what he was going to do in his retirement, Max smiled wryly and joked, “Maybe open a Mexican restaurant.” While that’s unlikely, one thing for certain is the Schachers are still not quite ready to settle down.
The following recipes, which Schacher describes as simple to make, are staples of Kenwood Restaurant’s menu.
The Kenwood Restaurant is located at 9900 Sonoma Hwy. They are open Wednesday through Sunday and can be reached at 833-6326.
Poached Salmon with Lemon Cream Caper Sauce
4-6 oz. fresh salmon filets
Poach salmon filets in water with salt and pepper and the juice of one lemon – 5 minutes.
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 lb. sweet butter
1 cup manufacturing cream [Manufacturing cream has a fat content over 40%, and is generally not available in retail stores. Substitute heavy cream.]
1 tsp. capers
Reduce onion, bay leaf, and white wine in sauce pan until liquid evaporates, then add cream and lemon juice and bring to a slow boil. Whip in butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pass through a fine strainer.
Serve salmon with your choice of steamed vegetables. Pour hot sauce over salmon and sprinkle with capers.
Kenwood Restaurant Cheesecake
3/4 lb. cream cheese
6 oz. goat cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
Blend ingredients in Cuisinart. Pass through fine strainer.
5 oz. graham crackers
1/4 lb. butter
Blend in the Cuisinart and pack into 9-inch spring form pan. Cook crust at 375º for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and rest on wire rack for 10 minutes.
Pour cheesecake filling mixture over crust and cook for 30 to 40 minutes at 375º on a sheet pan. Cook until golden brown and not too wobbly. Rest cheesecake in a warm place for hour until set, then cool in refrigerator (note: temperatures vary. Convection ovens will be much faster.)
Simply blend two cups of frozen raspberries with cup sugar then pass through a fine strainers to remove the seeds.
Sarah Phelps is an editor and reporter. She was raised in Kenwood and has a BA from Loyola Marymount University.