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Ken Frank

J.L. Sousa, Register file photo Chef Ken Frank.

J.L. Sousa, Register file photo

Chef Ken Frank of La Toque at The Westin Verasa Napa has mastered the art of preparing a perfect steak, and below he shares his tips for summer.

Start with a thick-cut steak to serve at least two, Frank says. “With a thick steak you can have it all, a nice tasty sear on the outside and big fat juicy pink center on every slice.”

If possible, begin with a room-temperature steak,” he adds. “Starting with an ice-cold steak is not ideal.

Frank also recommends ignoring “all advice about lean or ‘healthy’ meat. There are plenty of low-fat opportunities in life; steak is not one of them. Marbling (fat) is your friend, the key to tenderness and flavor.”

The only seasoning you need is salt and pepper, he says. “Use plenty, and season the meat just as you start to cook it, not before. If you salt it too early, it will start to ‘cure’ and draw moisture from the meat. Never marinate a piece of meat unless you want it to taste like salad dressing.”

For perfect flavor, sear the meat on all sides over very high heat until a dark rich brown color, avoiding char. “I recommend searing it in a pan with a little oil, or on a really hot grill with a heavy grate. Barbecue grills with thin wire grates will never produce a good sear.”

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Rest. “The single biggest factor in a perfect tender juicy piece of meat, from single steak to a 25 pound turkey, is rest,” Frank says. “The general rule of thumb for rest time is 50 percent of the cook time. Once you have a good understanding of this concept and a little practice, you will nail meat every time.

Standing the meat on its edge guarantees it doesn’t continue to stew in its own juices. The temperature of the meat will even out from the edge to the center.

“With a thick steak, I find the best thing to do is actually sear it, let it rest and then warm it back up in a hot oven for a few minutes,” Frank says.

Then, you just slice and serve it.

Chef Frank showcases his personal approach to classical French cuisine at La Toque and the more casual Bank Café and Bar. La Toque has earned a Michelin star every year since the guide has been ranking restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.