Out of the Kitchen

Chef’s Magic at the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield

Michael Kelly, Executive Chef & Marah Jackson, Pastry Chef

Mike Kelly and Marah Jackson produce some amazing cuisine five days a week at the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield. Downtime and holidays mean relaxing with family and friends and doing everyday things—Everything except cooking! Time to relax and recharge the batteries! And the food they crave is nothing fancy, just well-prepared family dinners. Mike’s wife will prepare the family feast on Thanksgiving Day, and Marah will spend the holiday with her family. Marah’s family always insists that she provide the pies, however! She happily obliges and provides a yummy dessert.

Presentation is important to both chefs at the restaurant. Each takes care to create a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Chef Mike says he’s not so demanding at home. Marah serves her deserts just as attractively to her family as she does at the restaurant. She says that it’s just habit.

Their tip for home cooks on the big day is organization! Start a few days ahead or more if you can. Piecrusts can be made and frozen; even fillings can be made ahead and refrigerated. Planning well ahead will relieve a lot of stress. That’s what the pros do!

Mike has provided a recipe for a harvest salad, a lighter alternative to other Thanksgiving side dishes. Marah”s recipe is for her rendition of pecan pie.

Chef Michael Kelly’s Autumn Salad

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large bunch kale stemmed and chopped, about 6 cups
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 pears cored and chopped
2 fuyu persimmons peeled and sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds
Crumbled feta cheese (Optional)

For the dressing
Juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Toss in butternut squash in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay squash out onto baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until it’s tender and slightly caramelized. Let squash cool.
  3. For the dressing, whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil, orange juice, mustard and shallot in a bowl until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss kale, squash, almonds, pears, persimmons and cranberries in a bowl.
  5. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Marah Jackson’s Pecan Pie


1 9-inch prepared pie crust
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, butter and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the pecans.
  3. Simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Can store in fridge for up to 1 week.
  4. Pour into favorite pie crust, egg wash and bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes, or until the outer 2 inches are as stiff as Jell-O.
  5. Optional: Stir in white chocolate chips when filling is completely cooled
  6. Top with raspberry compote before baking.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Petroleum Club Bakersfield!