The Food Chain

Sylvia Park is Wild About the Crispy Fried French Toast at Theresa & Johnny’s

Photo: Leslie Burnside

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, L.A. chef Susan Feniger heaped praise on the Spicy Sly burger at Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers in San Francisco. What dish can’t you get enough of, Sylvia?

Who: Sylvia Park, owner of Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers, San Francisco
What: Crispy fried French toast
Where: Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food in San Rafael, CA
When: January, 2011

“I am obsessed with breakfast and I love Theresa & Johnny’s on Fourth Street in San Rafael (Marin County). They do this amazing fried French toast. I’m pretty sure there’s ice cream in the batter. It’s grilled and then deep fried — it’s like French toast, a doughnut, and a funnel cake all in one.”

Leslie Burnside, chef-owner at Theresa & Johnny’s, responds:

“Our French toast has a crispy, crunchy outside with a tender center and a hint of vanilla, almost like a fresh-out-of-the-fryer doughnut or beignet. We have been making it this way since the day the restaurant opened. We love to riff on the original version by adding things like peanut butter and bananas, topping it with fresh strawberries and lemon curd, adding coconut to the batter, filling it with almond butter, coconut and bitter sweet chocolate for just a few. The original is deceptively simple: We use Texas toast, batter it, grill it and then deep-fry it in rice oil to just a touch north of golden brown. One of the secrets is the vanilla ice cream we add to the batter. But that’s all I’m going to share.”

Sylvia Park is Wild About the Crispy Fried French Toast at Theresa &