ST. HELENA, Calif. — They’re on a mission to bring cauliflower back.

According to chefs at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone’s annual Flavor, Quality and American Menus event, there’s an underlying challenge lately to make cauliflower appealing.

Chefs want to make cauliflower ‘sexy’

Ashley Bentley

Craig Stoll, chef and proprietor of Delfina restaurant in San Francisco, serves a spicy cauliflower dish he says is popular all winter long.

“Chefs right now, it’s like we’re on this mission to make cauliflower sexy,” said Duskie Estes, chef and co-owner of Zazu restaurant in Santa Rosa.

Craig Stoll, chef and proprietor of Delfina restaurant in San Francisco, makes a spicy cauliflower, a popular produce-centered dish on his Italian menu.

“It’s one of the most popular things on the menu all winter long,” Stoll said. “People act like they’re never had cauliflower before. It’s crazy.”

The dish takes pan-fried fresh cauliflower and mixes it with cooked garlic, capers, parsley, Calabrian chilies and chili flakes.

Estes serves a cauliflower fritti and truffle aioli on Zazu’s menu.

“We’re on a mission to make cauliflower cool, because in restaurants, it’s not,” Estes said.

Alex Ong serves cauliflower in paper cones, similar to the way pommes frites are served, at his restaurant, Betelnut, in San Francisco.

The dish, a fried cauliflower with spiced salt, takes cauliflower marinated in curry powder, turmeric, cumin, white pepper and canola oil and mixes it with raisins, red chilies and curry leaves before hitting the fryer.

Suvir Saran, consultant, author and owner of Devi restaurant in New York City, makes a roasted cauliflower dish with cardamom, chilies, coriander, cumin and peppercorns all ground in a coffee grinder to spice the dish.

“Martha Stewart recommended my book because of a simple cauliflower dish,” Saran said. Saran is author of “American Masala: 125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen and Indian Home Cooking.”