Chef Mike Rakun of Marin and Mill Valley Kitchen’s Essentials

Five things chef Mike Rakun of Marin and Mill Valley Kitchen can’t live without

Mike Rakun

Detox: I lean heavily on kale—either blanched or sautéed with garlic, chiles, and lemon. At the restaurant we finish it with a little pecorino, but you really don’t
even need it.

Winter activities: I told a friend who recently moved here from a warmer climate, you’ve got to stay active. Even if it’s 20 below, if it’s sunny, get outside and ski, skate, sled, or go snowmobile. Do something or you’ll end up like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Thawing strategy: Staying near the stove and preparing hearty dishes. Now is the time for long braises, and we’re surrounded by root vegetables. I also make a lot of soups with bones and vegetables. 

Cooking fat: I’ve been using bran oil a lot lately. It’s got the highest smoke point for frying things but also works in salad dressings. It’s really high in vitamin E and has all kinds of omegas.

Favorite indulgence: I’m a chef—I love all of it. We have to hide the duck confit when I’m in the kitchen. Smoked fish is my weakness. We went to a smokehouse up by Duluth, and I ate an entire fish that was on my lap in the car. At Marin, we get ours from Everett’s.

Getting his kids to eat healthfully: Get them in the kitchen and make them part of the process, from cleaning kale to chopping garlic and onions. Then it becomes more of a food adventure. Plus, we watched Food, Inc. with them to show how fast food is made. Our family rule is if there is an ingredient you don’t know or can’t pronounce, we aren’t eating it.