A tribute to Chef Tanya Holland


Holland was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  When she was eight years old, her parents founded a gourmet cooking and eating club that consisted of six couples from different ethnic and professional backgrounds. They gathered to share experiences and meals that ranged from French, Mexican, Jewish, Indian, Pennsylvanian Dutch, Italian and Southern Cuisine. She began her restaurant career in New York City as an assistant manager at Cornelia Street Café, Café Rakel and Nosmo King restaurants. She went on to work as a catering office manager, a tasting assistant for a wine importer, and a server at Mesa Grill before she committed to a career in the kitchen. Holland attended La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine inBurgundy, France, where she received a Grand Diploma in 1992. She received positive reviews as the Executive Chef of The Delux Café in Boston and The Victory Kitchen in Brooklyn.In 2008, Holland opened Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland, receiving positive reviews for signature dishes such as chicken and waffles, oyster po’boys, and BBQ shrimp & grits.[7] Her barbecue restaurant, B-Side BBQ, opened in December 2011.She has contributed to Food and Wine and Signature Bride magazines. She has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Savoy magazine,Travel + Leisure, Sunset,Food and Wine,O Magazine,Ebony, Essence, and local publications. She has written for Wine Enthusiast and The Huffington Post and also taught at many cooking schools. The mayor and city council of Oakland passed a council resolution on June 5, 2012, declaring that day as “Tanya Holland Day” for her “Significant Role in Creating Community and Establishing Oakland as a Culinary Center”.
Holland was named “2013 Restaurateur/Chef of the Year” by the California Travel Association during the California Travel Summit in March 2013 in San Diego. Holland was elected co-president of the San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier in 2013.
Tanya has received numerous awards and accolades, I mean the list goes on and on with her  achievements. She is definitely my culinary shero.
Her recipe that Im highlighting is her Chocolate Pecan Shortbread Bars. Tell me these dont look amazing! (Recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com)



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups pecan halves, chopped (10 ounces)
  • Flaky sea salt

How to make this recipe

    1. Make the shortbread Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-by-17-inch baking pan with foil, allowing it to extend 1/2 inch over the edge on all sides. Spray the foil with vegetable oil spray.
  1. Make the shortbread In a standing electric mixer or food processor, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and, using a flat-bottomed glass, press the dough into an even layer. Freeze the dough for about 10 minutes, until firm.
  2. Make the shortbread Bake the shortbread in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until lightly golden.
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping In a saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, chocolate and cream and cook over low heat just until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the pecans.
  4. Meanwhile, make the topping Spread the topping over the shortbread crust and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake the shortbread bar for about 25 minutes, until the topping is set. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until firm. Using the foil, carefully lift the bar out of the pan; discard the foil. Cut the shortbread into 32 triangles and serve.

Make Ahead

The shortbread can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


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