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Window of opportunity: Chef Jeffry cooks wine country comfort at Barton's Kitchen Window

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Paso Robles is home to a portal that leads into a delicious dimension. 

One moment, you’re sitting on the patio outside Barton Family Wines sipping a pink glass of 2015 Grey Wolf Soul Mate rosé—the next, amazingly yummy things are emerging from Jeffry’s Catering at Barton’s Kitchen Window. It’s like magic.

We’re talking quesadillas with slow-cooked marinated chicken, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, and lime crème fraiche; Mediterranean tuna melts slathered with tuna salad, kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, capers, and provolone; and—the grub that rules them all—Paso Mac and Cheesesteak. It’s exactly what you imagine it to be: mini shell pasta swimming in roasted garlic provolone cheese sauce, smoked top sirloin, and sautéed peppers and onions. Yes, it’s as good as you imagine, and yes—you should order your own. Sharing could be tricky, unless you’re confident about wielding a spork against moochers.

You might know Chef Jeffry Wiesinger from the popular Central Coast catering business that shares his name, but did you also know you can now get his grub any time you’re traveling through Highway 46 West? Knowledge is power, friends. Here’s what the crafty cook is up to at the window this summer:

GOOD THINGS COME OUT:  Chef Jeffry Wiesinger brings the comfort-food flavor but takes the food truck out of the equation at Barton’s Kitchen Window off 46 West. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • GOOD THINGS COME OUT: Chef Jeffry Wiesinger brings the comfort-food flavor but takes the food truck out of the equation at Barton’s Kitchen Window off 46 West.

New Times: You started your catering company, Jeffry’s Catering, in 2007 and it went from being your side business to your main business in 2012. Tell me about how the concept has evolved since then.

Chef Jeffry: I rent the kitchen space from the Barton Family to use for all my catering events. Then I figured since we’re right on the 46 West, I’d open the Kitchen Window and serve lunch on the weekends. We opened on Labor Day Weekend 2014. My concept is similar to that of a gourmet food truck. Now we serve lunch Thursday through Monday from noon to 4 p.m., although occasionally I have to close, for private events.

NT: Food trucks are quick, no fuss. I like that! 

CJ: That’s right. Everything is scratch made and orders generally take between five and 15 minutes depending on the size of the group and the order. We serve our food in reusable plastic baskets with wax paper. It’s a very casual, quick service lunch options, for locals and those who are out wine tasting.

NT: You gotta tell me about that amazing mac and cheese!

BAHN MINE :  A day of Paso wine tasting is not complete without a bite of Chef Jeffry Wiesinger’s bahn mi, made with smoked pork loin, bacon, hoisin barbecue sauce, Sriracha aioli, house-pickled carrots, onions, radish, and fresh cilantro. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • BAHN MINE : A day of Paso wine tasting is not complete without a bite of Chef Jeffry Wiesinger’s bahn mi, made with smoked pork loin, bacon, hoisin barbecue sauce, Sriracha aioli, house-pickled carrots, onions, radish, and fresh cilantro.

CJ: I won The Mac & Cheese Fest in 2013 and have placed second the past two years with my Paso Mac and Cheesesteak. It’s our top-selling menu item and people really love it. We’re looking forward to hopefully reclaiming our title again this year.

NT: Tell me about some of your other popular lunch favorites. On my last trip, I pretty much gobbled up everything in front of me because it was that awesome.

CJ: Besides the mac and cheese, we have also become well known for our prime grade smoked tri-tip sandwich with zinfandel barbecue sauce and our house-made black truffle potato chips with jalapeño-citrus aioli. Honestly, all of our dishes are quite popular, and I love to hear it when people have a hard time choosing. The Mediterranean tuna melt has a really cool, cult-like following because I don’t use mayo in the tuna salad. The wine country pulled pork sandwich is another favorite. It’s smoked for 18 hours and topped with a house-made pickled-onion-cabbage slaw. The Cuban pork loin sandwich and the pulled-chicken quesadilla are also very popular and have a consistent fan base. All of our bread is delivered fresh daily, which makes all the sandwiches great.

NT: Seems like you’ve hit a nerve in wine country. Cheese plates are great, but sometimes you just want something with a bit more “heft.” 

CJ: I agree. I love a good cheese plate, but I wanted to offer a lunch menu that was a little more approachable with a wine country twist. I like to call my food at the window “wine country comfort food.”

NT: So, you’re located on the patio at Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines tasting room and you are a stone’s throw from KROB¯AR Craft Distillery. That’s a triple whammy. Booze, wine, and real food!

CJ: Yes, Joe and Jenny Barton [of Grey Wolf and Barton Family Wines] have done a great job at making the property feel inviting and comfortable, and KROB¯AR Distillery is becoming very popular. We’ve increased our outdoor seating on the patio and there are a few tables inside the tasting room for people to sit and eat, although we do ask that people do not eat at the wine tasting bar, as to not interfere with the sensory experience of the wine tasting.

NT: Got any new offerings to chew on this summer?

GET YOUR OWN :  Chef Jeffry Wiesinger’s dippin’ sauces are cult classics. Pictured, lime crème fraiche and smoky salsa. Tip: dip the chef’s handmade potato chips in the sauces for a crunchy epiphany. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY JOSEPH
  • GET YOUR OWN : Chef Jeffry Wiesinger’s dippin’ sauces are cult classics. Pictured, lime crème fraiche and smoky salsa. Tip: dip the chef’s handmade potato chips in the sauces for a crunchy epiphany.

CJ: Summer is a busy time of year for me with catering and private events. We will continue to run our regular lunch menu, but I have been offering some specials as well. I cure and smoke my own bacon and have been running a H.M.B.L.T (house-made bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich. My bahn mi is another special that has become very popular, with smoked pork loin and bacon, hoisin barbecue sauce, Sriracha aioli, house-pickled carrots, onions, radish, and fresh cilantro.

NT: Yes, your bahn mi was killer. So, basically ... if you’re on a diet, stay far, far away from you.

CJ: It’s not exactly diet food, but it’s not greasy fried food either. I do offer a baby spinach salad on the regular menu and often run a Caesar salad as a special. My idea is to serve good food that pairs well with wine and will fill you up while you’re out wine tasting. I’m also looking to feature a grab-and-go cooler that will feature additional, wine friendly vegetarian options including a toasted quinoa salad, a grilled vegetable Israeli couscous salad, and my signature Mediterranean sampler of lemon-garlic hummus, Kalamata olive tapenade, and herb goat cheese with flat bread. Those should be available later this summer.

NT: Yum. That does sound a bit more “wine country.” 

- QUICK AND CASUAL:  Jeffry’s Catering at Barton’s Kitchen Window is open Thursday through Monday, noon to 4 p.m., inside the Barton Family Wines Tasting Room, 2174 Hwy 46 West in Paso Robles. Visit bartonfamilywines.com or facebook.com/jeffryskitchenwindow for more info. -
  • QUICK AND CASUAL: Jeffry’s Catering at Barton’s Kitchen Window is open Thursday through Monday, noon to 4 p.m., inside the Barton Family Wines Tasting Room, 2174 Hwy 46 West in Paso Robles. Visit bartonfamilywines.com or facebook.com/jeffryskitchenwindow for more info.

CJ: It’s not pretentious or modern: just good classic lunch fare that will put a smile on your face. Everything is made with the highest standers of culinary integrity. When I do catering events and private dinners, I enjoy cooking globally influenced wine country cuisine. Basically, I enjoy cooking and serving food that I like to eat, every day.

NT: Bless you, Jeff. But I’m never ordering the salad. That salad might be incredible, but I’m not doing it. Your mac and cheese is just that damn good.

CJ: It makes me feel great when people enjoy my food, and to me, feeling good and enjoying the wine country lifestyle is what it’s all about. 

Screw swimsuit season. Hayley Thomas is immersing herself in the “wine country mac and cheese eating lifestyle” and loving every bite of it. She can be reached at hthomas@newtimesslo.com or follow her on Instagram @flavorslo.

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