Dish

Et Tu, Bradley?
Dish concedes that chefs make more desirable celebrities than, say, washed-up pro football players hawking underwear. Still, there can be too much of a good thing, and fame always seems to be corrosive.

The new menu at Lark Creek Inn, Bradley Ogden's restaurant in Larkspur, suggests that he's rapidly becoming a conglomerate. There is, at the bottom of the page, a discreet — but not too discreet — notice that Ogden's cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, “is available from your server.” (Would it be necessary to include the cost of the cookbook when calculating the tip?)

More obvious is the middle of the page, which is given over to “Bradley Ogden Classics,” including “Bradley's Caesar Salad With Garlic Croutons.” It is not clear to Dish why Caesar salad, which has a perfectly recognizable, time-honored name, should have another piggybacked on it.

It is even less clear why Ogden is asserting what he calls “pride of ownership” over such dishes as the grilled double-cut pork chop with cheddar potatoes and spiced apple butter, or oak-roasted free-range chicken with garlic mashed red potatoes.

Ogden's spinmeisters, Zuckerman/Fernandes & Partners, contend: “While many chefs have attempted to adopt his style, Ogden's versions still boast the original touch and a true commitment to seasonal farm-fresh ingredients.”

That's gratuitously snotty — and absurd. Many other local chefs, great and small, famous and obscure, are as committed as Bradley Ogden to finding and using the best local produce in season. As for “original touch,” that could mean anything, or nothing.

The most interesting detail on the menu, undiscussed by the spin doctors, is that Ogden is no longer listed as the chef. That title has come to rest on the shoulders of Jules Paulk. Ogden himself, meanwhile, is in danger of turning into a culinary Johnny Appleseed, scattering his name hither and yon and becoming ever more famous as Lark Creek Inns (there's a new one in the East Bay) and cookbooks proliferate. What's next? Some sort of high-profile infringement lawsuit to protect Ogden's “classic” Caesar salad? Will the Caesar become the Bradley?

Waiting to Deglaze
If you made a New Year's resolution to swear off, or at least cut back on, takeout pizza, or you simply want to learn more about cooking, enroll at City College's “Food: Basic Skills” course. Nutritionist Claire Muller-Moseley will teach two evening sections a week from Jan. 18 to May 23. Call the college at 239-3588 for details. It's cheap, too — $13 per credit.

By Paul Reidinger

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