By April 2, 2015 Read More →

ChefView – Wondrous Women of Redwood Cafe


Wondrous Women of Redwood Café

By Dana Johnson

Media alert! This is not an attempt to bash on men; not that there is a shortage of material either! I’m joking, haha! This month the magnificent Modesto View is showcasing many worthy women that contribute to the positive portrait of Modesto. Therefore, I’m pleased to introduce to you Lorna Borges, general manager of the Redwood Café (RC) for the past 12 years and Executive Chef Gema Martinez for 3 years. These two are beautiful inside and out. No wonder RC has that “welcome home” feeling and the wafting smells that tell your taste buds “Get ready to be spoiled!” all set in a cozy, yet swanky motif.

Lorna is married to her husband and kind of to her job, too. She did tell me that there is no such thing as a typical workday for her. From beginning to end she has numerous duties in every aspect of Redwood Cafe including the restaurant, bar, 2 patios, wine cellar, and the gorgeous gardens where weddings and other grand events are held. “Mama Lorna” sounded right to me as she has 2 children of her own (ages 24 & 26), and with all the employees she manages she refers to them as her kids, too. She is also known for all the cats she rescues, to a fault. In Lorna’s scarce free time she & her husband enjoy golfing at Creekside and Dryden in Modesto. I asked Lorna where she sees herself 10 years from now, she said. “Either upstairs in my office working away, or buried in the beautiful RC gardens pushing up daisies!” Lorna also told me about her favorite RC pizza, The Ratto Bros.: basil pesto, rotisserie chicken, olives, red onions, feta cheese, and pepperoncini peppers. Gluten free crust is available or try it topped with a ranch egg. Yes, it was so Dana~licious!

Chef Gema started at RC as a sous-chef and it was obvious to Lorna early on that Chef G had all the quality makings of an executive chef. It took Lorna 3 pleading efforts to convince her to take on this illustrious position. No regrets for either one today! Chef G is only 31 years young and has a 3 year old daughter and a 7 year old son on top of working full time at RC. She loves taking her kids to the movies, trying new restaurants, and she likes to relax at the Queen Bean Coffee House when she can. Chef G says the best part of being a woman in the culinary industry is proving herself, showing the guys she can do the work, and yes, sometimes even better than them! She said that humbly, but I can attest that she is one of Modesto finest chefs! That girl can grill a steak to perfection, sear a scallop, and pan-roast salmon that will have you coming back for more!

Owner, Bob Campana shared with me that Lorna does do “everything” at RC and it wouldn’t be as amazing without her. He also joked that she’s the Smucker’s girl, as she’s so well-preserved. I see she is one of those ageless beauties. About Chef G, Bob said the rumors of Latin blood are true! She has passion in her cuisine and a fire in her eyes. I bet it’s a mere reflection of the flaming skillets she’s whipping up in the kitchen. So I’m not if Bob felt the women were out numbering the men, as 4 ginormous male Chinese soldier statues are the latest addition to RC’s décor! The employees were startled when they showed up for work not expecting to see them there!

Chris Hull (RC bartender) has many signature cocktails on and off the menu. My new favorite is his “Apple of my Eye”, a gin appletini! Mmmm, so Dana~licious! Nicholas Richards is the totally trusted wine sommelier at RC. He is stellar at pairings and is always introducing me to something new and worthy of whatever is on my plate.

Modesto View signature question: Beatles or Stones? Lorna, likes the Beatles, but LOVES the STONES & Aerosmith. Chef G, “Beatles, because that’s all my Dad listened to & I love him so!”

Redwood Café

4342 Dale Road Modesto, CA 95356

(209) 545-9248

Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11am-10pm (Sat./Sun. open until Midnight)

Restaurant closed 2-4pm Bar Menu Only

Happy Hour 3-6pm daily

Redwood Cage Chimichurri

1 c chopped curly parsley
1/2 c chopped cilantro
2 oz. chopped yellow onions
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 ea lemon juice
1 T dried oregano
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 T fresh chopped garlic

In a small bowl combine the oregano in to the vinegar.
Let it sit for 15 min.
In a separate bowl mix the fresh herbs with the onions, garlic, chili flakes, lemon juice and the oregano mixture. Season with salt and pepper

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