Ask A Bay Area Expert: Fall Comfort Food Recipes

Ryder Zetts, new executive chef of Archetype in the Napa Valley, unveils three of his favorite fall comfort food recipes

chefryderzetts Ask A Bay Area Expert: Fall Comfort Food Recipes

(Courtesy of Ryder Zetts)

Chef Ryder Zetts
1429 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 968-9200

Ryder Zetts brings an impressive resume to Archetype as the new executive chef in the enchanting Napa Valley community of St. Helena. Most recently chef de cuisine at Michelin star-rated Solbar at Solage in Calistoga, Zetts is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and previously served as chef de partie at the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia and Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. Housed within the former French Blue space founded and operated by architect Howard Backen, Archetype launched in April and is managed by Auberge Resorts.

Green Tomato Relish

Every early autumn, the days become shorter and the nights cooler, inhibiting the ripening of our lovely Napa Valley tomatoes. When it's time to till the tomato plants into the earth, there's always a surplus of green tomatoes on the vine that'd be a shame to waste. We like to preserve these lost soldiers into a condiment that pairs well with everything from hot dogs to hearts of palm.

Yield: 5 cups
Preparation time: 2.5 hours

  • 8 lbs green tomatoes
  • 2 T salt
  • 10 oz. Spanish onions, minced
  • 3 oz. jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
  • 2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 4 T yellow mustard seeds
  • reserved green tomato juice


Quarter the green tomatoes, cut out the heart with the seeds and discard, reserving the tomato "petals." Using a food processor with the grater attachment, grate the tomato petals and add the salt. Set aside while preparing the rest of the items. Place the onions, jalapenos, vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds in a pot. Take the grated tomato and place it in a piece of cheesecloth or a cloth napkin over a bowl and twist the tomato to extract as much juice as possible. Add this juice to the pot with the other ingredients and place over medium flame. Reduce this mixture until a cup remains, add the green tomato and cook over low until almost dry and sticky. Taste the relish for salt. Cool and store.

savorypersimmonpudding Ask A Bay Area Expert: Fall Comfort Food Recipes

Savory Persimmon Pudding over Duck (Courtesy of Ryder Zetts)

Savory Persimmon Pudding

Few things stick out on a brisk autumn day in Napa like a persimmon tree. It is a deciduous tree that loses all of its leaves in late October yet hangs onto its bright orange fruit into December. The two main varieties of persimmon are Fuyu and Hachiya.The Fuyus can be eaten raw like an apple while the Hachiyas must be extremely overripe and cooked. This recipe uses the Hachiya and leans toward the savory side with the intention of pairing with game birds or pork roast.

Yield: 12 portions
Preparation time: 1.5 hours


  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c vegetable shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c persimmon puree, about 5 each persimmons
  • 1.5 c milk
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 12 grinds of black pepper
  • 10 grates of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract


Lightly butter 12 4-oz ramekins and set aside. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and turn off, but keep warm. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To process the persimmon, cut in half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the flesh (being careful to remove an occasional seed). Puree the pulp in a blender and set aside. In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, add the sugar, butter and shortening. Cream these first three ingredients until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the bowl once. Next, add all of the ingredients with the exception of the flour mixing until smooth. While the mixer is running, slowly incorporate the flour until just mixed. Portion the pudding base evenly into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to come up halfway. Cover the pan with foil, place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the puddings comes out clean. Cool, refrigerate and serve alongside your favorite holiday animal.

stuffingcroutons Ask A Bay Area Expert: Fall Comfort Food Recipes

Stuffing Croutons on an Endive with Brussels Sprouts (Courtesy of Ryder Zetts)

Stuffing Croutons

These croutons put all other croutons to shame. They pair wonderfully with shaved Brussels sprout salad, wintertime chicories, cranberries, sweet potatoes and all classic holiday foods. At the restaurant, they're paired with grilled chicories or Belgian endive salad with orange scented yams. It's also a great way to use up leftover bread.

Yield: 10 portions
Preparation time: 2.5 hours


  • 12 oz. day-old bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 ea. spanish onion, minced
  • 1 ea. carrot, peeled, minced
  • 2 ea. celery stalks, minced
  • 4 ea. cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 ea. thyme sprigs
  • 1 qt. heavy cream
  • 6 ea. eggs
  • 1 bunch of chives, minced
  • 1 T chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 T chopped sage
  • 20 grinds of black pepper
  • 1.5 T salt
  • 4 oz gruyere cheese


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the carrot, onion and celery. Cook gently for eight minutes, add the garlic and cook for three minutes more. Add the heavy cream and the thyme sprigs. Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn off, remove the thyme and discard. In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients besides the bread with a whisk. Gently pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs don't scramble. Add the bread and stir to combine, let this mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Lightly oil a rectangular pyrex-style dish and place the stuffing mixture inside, smoothing out to get an even layer. Bake this mixture until a thermometer inserted in the middle registers 145 degrees F. Remove the stuffing from the oven, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. The next day, cut the stuffing into 1/2-inch cubes. Deep fry at 350 degrees F or pan fry in vegetable oil until crispy. Drain on paper towels, season lightly with salt.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on