You have to be a pro to make it look this easy.
Under the warm sun and light breeze, surrounded by a relaxed Sunday crowd, chef Tene Shake demonstrated how to clean calamari. On his improvised, outdoors kitchen, he held the squid with one hand, a knife on the other, and separated the mantle from the head — careful not to break the ink sac.
Then he was ready for the butter, the garlic, the green and yellow peppers, and the chopped cherry tomatoes to be added to the dish. Then some salt and pepper. And maybe a little bit more butter.
"Or maybe a lot," the 50-year-old chef joked with the audience. "Never trust a skinny chef."
Shake, a member of one of Monterey's most prominent culinary families, was one of the attractions during the second annual Great Monterey Calamari and Clam Chowder Festival. Besides its namesake seafood fare, the festival beckoned hundreds of revelers with live music, face painting and fabulous weather.
While his executive chef continued with the preparations, Shake entertained the audience with stories of his family. He's the youngest of six boys — no girls, he emphasized — and held his first cooking job when he was 11. While he now owns several restaurants, hosts his local television show "Coastal Cuisine" and is current president of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, Shake still tries to spend at least half of his working hours in the kitchen.
"I love to create recipes, I love to teach line cooks and prep cooks how to do things," Shake said after finishing his first demonstration of the day.
Shake also helped coordinate food production for the festival — the cooking of French fries, coconut shrimp and other dishes prepared on an improvised kitchen with the help of culinary students from Rancho Cielo, a program for at-risk youth.
After adding more butter to the calamari, Shake added penne pasta already cooked, and pecorino.
"Did you know pecorino is the oldest cheese in Italy?" he asked the audience. "They would hijack trucks that were loaded with pecorino cheese."
The dish was ready. You could add cream if you wanted to make it Alfredo-style, he said. You mix the calamari, pasta and other ingredients a little bit, and it's ready in about five to seven minutes.
"Why do you have to pound the calamari?" Dee Shortt of Monterey asked after the cooking was done.
"It's important, it's just tough if you don't," Shake said. "You can't use tenderizer on it."
Shortt learned about the festival earlier in the day, and decided to come with her family. She said she enjoyed Shake's cooking demonstration.
"My kids have a shop right next to the Old Fisherman's Grotto," she said, referring to one of the restaurants owned by the Shake family. "I enjoy his show."
There was so much to like about the festival that Julio Deleo, 48, didn't know where to start: the music, the food, the atmosphere, the entertainment.
"The weather is gorgeous," he said. "The calamari is fantastic. I rarely eat it but I like it a lot."
Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or email@example.com.
If you go
·What: The second annual Great Monterey Calamari and Clam Chowder Festival
·When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday
·Where: Custom House Plaza, Monterey
If you go