From the White Lotus Kitchen

Endive Salad with Wholegrain Mustard Dressing


Remembering Peter Clements

Our first White Lotus chef was Sally Ruhl, a funny, fiery, extremely talented young woman whose friendship remains a treasure. Sally was just nineteen when we hired her. She and her then fiancé, Peter Clements, both chefs, were regularly running marathons and participating in triathlons. It was not only their combined talent and food that was impressive. Sally came from the catering world, and Pete was thoroughly trained in the high intensity world of restaurant kitchens. They were both stars long before the celebrity chef era came into fashion, notwithstanding, the world renown Santa Barbara resident, Julia Child, whom they both knew and enormously respected.

Pete and Sally married and moved into the Center where over five years they would begin building their family that eventually included three children. Our staff holiday dessert parties were epic. Pete would sometimes pitch hit and help Sally in the Center kitchen during programs. Our open kitchen  setup was not his cup of tea. He preferred to concentrate on his creations rather than the constant flow of well-meaning onlookers asking questions. This too was before the open kitchen concept was in vogue that so many restaurants adopted post Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck. Pete loved his wife and the Center, but often found the situation maddening. At the time, he preferred the sanctum of the heat, the noise, the unrelenting pace, and the insanity of the haunts of his training.

Pete worked at many notable Santa Barbara restaurants throughout his career, including co-owning and cheffing for a great, local Italian restaurant he helped create. He also worked to help change the worldview  on the food served at one of our hospitals and a senior living community, and for many years, he worked privately for some of Santa Barbara's high visibility celebrities.

A few weeks ago, Pete passed away from natural causes while on a biking trip in Spain. He and his two sons, Tosh and Taylor were avid cyclists. Tosh is setting out for life in Mexico City and Taylor is headed to Brooklyn. Pete's daughter, Sara, her husband, Clay, and granddaughters, Charlotte and Leia  (and another new life on the way) all live in the great outback of Alaska. The Ruhl-Clement family are dynamic, talented people. Sally and Pete have been feeding hearts and souls for as long as we can remember. Pete, your passing saddens us and so many.

In remembrance, we offer a much-loved salad often prepared by Pete, and served here in the White Lotus Kitchen, by Sally.

Serves 4 to 6 people

1 pound Belgium Endive
4 cups cleaned and stemmed spinach, julienned
½ cup crumbled gorgonzola
¼ cup ground roasted pistachio
Salt and pepper
½ cup whole grain mustard dressing

¼ cup Spanish sherry wine vinegar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
Pinch sugar
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 ½ cups olive oil or salad oil

In a blender, add all the dressing items except the oil. Puree until very smooth. Slowly add the oil until the dressing becomes thick and homogenous. Add a little warm water if needed to keep it from breaking. Reserve until ready for use. Toss all ingredients with dressing and arrange on plates. Start with endive on bottom and finish with some more of the spinach on top.