It’s always exciting to meet a new chef full of passion, inspiration and successful. That is what happened with Deborah Scarborough, owner/chef of The Black Cat in Cambria, California.

How did you get started?


“Like many other chefs, I started cooking with my grandmother, mother, and father. Each had different specialties, from country Southern, to great soups, and elite dinner parties. My mother cooks wonderfully and knows how to develop flavors.  My father cooked wild game and freshly caught fish.  It is because of him, that I have no fear of cooking any kind of meat.”


As to using local ingredients, Deborah was absolute.


“I am on the board of Pallet to Palate, which promotes the farm to table experience in California’s Central Coast. Before Pallet to Palate, I found it difficult to coordinate with the farmers.  Now we have developed better communication between farmers and chefs. I am also on the board of Slow Food San Luis Obispo.


What has been your biggest ah ha moment in the field?


“Peeking out from the kitchen and seeing a painting in the dining room of my restaurant that used to hang in my office, when I worked in television. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is MY restaurant.’  I sometimes still walk in the dining room, listen to the ambiance, and think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I actually pulled this off and my dreams have come true.’”


The Black Cat

1602 Main Street

Cambria, California  93428





Black Cat Bistro Rare Seared Yellowfin Ahi

Butter braised jasmine rice, ginger wasabi sauce, Vietnamese slaw, peanuts, roasted shiitakes, crispy shallots

4 servings


4 whole ahi filets

2 Tbs. canola oil

salt & pepper to taste


2 cups jasmine rice, cooked

4 Tbs. butter


½ Japanese cucumber, julienned

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

2 Tbs. ginger, finely chopped

1 green onion, julienned


1 Tbs.     fish sauce

1 Tbs.     sugar

½ tsp.     minced garlic

½ tsp. minced shallot

1 tsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbs. water


3 Tbs. butter

¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbs. shallot, finely chopped

2 Tbs. ginger, finely chopped

8 ounces shiitake mushroom, sliced

6 Tbs. soy sauce

1 ½ cups heavy cream

½  tsp. wasabi

3 Tbs. fresh lime juice


1 cup canola oil

2 whole shallot, thinly sliced

peanuts, dry-roasted


1.  Make fried shallots by heating canola oil in medium sauté pan, adding thinly sliced shallots, and cooking at low simmer until golden brown. They should be sweet, not bitter when finished.  This takes about 20 minutes or longer.  Watch carefully at end. They can turn too dark quickly and then will be bitter.  Drain oil (can use this now flavored oil in salads or can reuse to make more fried shallots). Let shallots cool on paper towels.

2.  Salt and pepper ahi filets, set aside.

3.  Mix together slaw ingredients and dressing, set aside.

4.  Make the sauce. In a medium sauté pan, heat butter until bubbling, sauté mushrooms, shallots, garlic, green onions, ginger and cilantro until fragrant. Mix in soy sauce and simmer 30 seconds. Add cream and simmer until it coats the back of spoon. Stir in lime juice and wasabi paste.

4.  Preheat oven to 300F.  In skillet large enough to hold four 4-inch ring molds – put ring molds in pan, half of a tablespoon of butter in each mold, pack in jasmine rice. Turn heat to medium.  Cook rice until golden brown. Then flip over, slip another ½ tablespoon butter under each patty of rice, and cook until golden on other side.  Keep warm in oven while finishing.

5.  While rice is cooking, heat canola oil in a non-stick skillet large enough for four ahi filets.  They should not be over-crowded.  When oil is very hot, add ahi.  Sear ahi about 2 minutes on each side. Cooking time depends on how rare you like it.


Place butter-braised rice cake in center of each plate.

Slice ahi and arrange on top of rice cakes so that beautiful color of rare part of filet shows.

Spoon some warm sauce with shiitake mushrooms around rice cakes.

Pile some slaw on top of ahi filets.

Sprinkle with peanuts and fried shallots.

Article is written by the team of Maralyn D. Hill, the Epicurean Explorer, and Michelle M. Winner, the Culinary Traveler


Michelle M. Winner & Maralyn D. Hill Photo: Norman E. Hill
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Michelle M. Winner & Maralyn D. Hill        
Photo: Norman E. Hill

Michelle M. Winner, the Culinary Traveler

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA)

President and Co-Chair Conference & Media Trip Committee

Co-Chair Conference & Media Trip Committee

Member: Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

Member: Society of Professional Journalists

Executive Editor, Luxe Beat Magazine (Launching Fall 2013)

Freelance Lifestyle Journalist


Maralyn D. HillThe Epicurean Explorer

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA)

Board Member, Co-Chair Conference & Media Trip Committee, Past President

Member: Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

Member: Society of Professional Journalists

Executive Editor, Luxe Beat Magazine (Launching Fall 2013)

Freelance Lifestyle Journalist

Blogs: Where and What in the World & Success with Writing

Follow me: @maralynhill

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