Random Thoughts on Food (part 2)...

spice crusted moularde duck
parsnip puree, sweet garlic, baby turnips, huckleberry essence

To re-enter where I left off, this was part of a succession of tastes that took place within a couple week span, made up of various ingredients, a handful of chef's tables and events, a multitude of moods and vibes and a simple visionary mission to create tasty dishes for anyone who will care to be at our mercy to indulge in such a feat. Some of the preparations and presentations are spin-offs and redo's of a prior, some are new and unprecedented and then there are those that perhaps have just been lurking in the shadows of my mind waiting to be unleashed without me even knowing it. Cool shit. Hope you find enjoyment in them...
mango & ahi tuna tartare
soy-ginger aioli, radish-chervil salad, crispy potatoes, lobster roe
roulade of dungeness crab, avocado and mango
paddlefish caviar, cucumber, lobster roe-champagne sabayon, tomato powder

seared diver scallop salad

sweetbreads, frisee, truffles, duck egg "caviar", truffle dressing

alternate preparation

searing foie gras of dish below...

honey bunches of oats/hazelnuts/cacao nib crusted foie gras

confit of pears, blood oranges, cherry pickling juice caramel

braised hake

leeks, lobster, nettle puree, grated marcona almonds, jus de poisson

smoked salmon ravioli, creamy horseradish potatoes, apples, beet oil

coffee & cepe crusted lamb loin

parsnip puree, corn-carrot agnolottis, pearl onions, artichokes, yellowfoot chanterelles


Random Thoughts on Food (part 1)...

BBQ'd "Lobbi-Pops"
maine lobster, avocado, spicy pomegranate-citrus sauce, chives

Warm Maine Lobster "Burger"
avocado, blood orange bbq glaze, sturgeon caviar, brioche, cilantro

here are a handful of dishes, hand-crafted in our kitchen that showcase the ideas and thoughts "of-the-moment". This approach is redolent in any top-notch kitchen that are excited about food and cooking. If they are not, why bother? This is not to say that these dishes are any better or worse than them, just namely different. Another perspective on goodness. Enjoy...

quail galantine, truffles, balsamic

pear-parsnip quenelle, potato gaufrette

silky wild mushroom -truffle "cappuccino"

tartare of black bass, pummelo, potato, paddlefish caviar, lobster roe sabayon

a tasting of stuffed pasta...

corn agnolotti, carrot dough, braised carrots

butternut-squid ink mezzaluna, leeks

beet & goat cheese tortellini, portobellos

syrah braised painted hills shortribs, anson mills grits, caramelized onions

artichokes and valrhona manjari-mustard cuisson


Chicken and Mashed Potatoes...

a couple shots of a very simplistic dish and comfort food to most Americans, and others for that matter, although with a twist of luxury. Slow Pan Roasted Organic Chicken Breast, Creamy Truffled Mashed Potatoes, Blue Foot Mushrooms, Caramelized Garlic and Grated Truffles! That's how I roll...


Last Night's Chef's Table...

Last night's chef's table was a bit different than others. It is supposed to be. But to be honest, there are stretches in time that we are onto a great technique or ingredient or style that we want to explore more than just one dish on one night and cast it aside. How can one learn from that? We always try quite hard to not replicate a menu fro the chef's table. In my 8 years of hosting chef's tables at the club, we have not repeated a chef's table in it's entirety at all. Sure, we have done dishes as part of a whole, or flavor profiles as the night before, but not as a sum of it's parts. Even from night to night, the moods change, the guests are different, the season changing, the emotional level altered from personal influences, stress at home, angst from the world, challenges with the business or just simply down or high on whatever it is that is on our minds at that moment. All of this has a long-lasting effect on the food. Last night though, we had some special guests in that had been at the table many times and in the dining room as well. I wanted to go about it differently. A new approach with the same level of quality and emphasis of style and sophistication, although one can not tell by the just menu verbage alone. No worries. And although I left my camera at home (a common thing these days) there were some very cool flavors and presentations. Here are a few nuances of the dishes...

black bass tartare, cucumber-mango composure, golden caviar, tangerine oil
scrambled eggs, lobster, truffles, lobster roe, truffle oil
honey bunches of oats-cacao nib-hazelnut crusted foie gras, kumquats, cherries, pickled cherry caramel
seared diver scallop & sweetbread salad, poached duck egg drops, frisee, truffles
pan roasted arctic char, salsify, butternut squash, duck confit-pear-lentil "crisp roll", grated marcona almonds, aioli emulsion
quince slushy, pummelo filaments, heather honey-fennel pollen-yopol frozen "lozenge"
spice crusted moularde duck "ravioli", parsnip puree, yellowfoot chanterelles, beet cooked endive, caramelized garlic and huckleberry essence
cardamom creme brulee, pistachio ladyfingers, valrhona manjari, caramel sauce, creme fraiche ice cream, fruits of the moment
hazelnut-chocolate macaroons, strawberry pates de fruits, salted caramels


in our line of work...the professional culinary industry, we move in and out of all kinds of relationships. Some great, some not so great, and some, gone terribly bad. From our first day on the job or in the industry, we start to formulate these relationships without even realizing it. We form them with our cooks and the chef's we work for(with), we make close connections with the "suits" upstairs with whom we work for, or in the case of later on in our careers, as owners, ones we work side by side or in cases, even have working for us. We bond with our guests, the farmers and producers and artisans of the craft as well as other chef's in the business and other industry peers. As we grow and mature in our professional endeavors, we secure relationships with the community and society as a whole, just simply based on who we are and what we do on a daily basis in the public's eye. These relationships are very important to us as professional chefs as they are really a foundation of who we are. They help form and mold ourselves in the way of our personality, our outlook on life, our approach to cooking as a passion, a hobby and as a job. From those unique individuals with whom we meet along the way on our travels, we become more in tune with life and other cultures, other ways of doing things, other means of an approach to cooking and applying our technique and use of ingredients. I have met some of the most profound people along my walk in this lifetime, many of which have left a long-lasting impression on me, and all the while not losing sight of whom I am as a person, or my own identity as a chef. Sure, we can be easily influenced at times, and even so to the point of creating a negative affect on that identity, but if one has a solid vision, and not lose sight of who they are personally, all of those relationships will only enhance and embrace your own views and help filter out the ones that are just bs. Some of my relationships with farmers, fishermen, cheese makers and retailers, artisan wholesalers, and crafters of such, growers, ranchers and many, many people in between, have helped make me who I am as a chef, which I feel to be lucky to have met them. It is always sad when a relationship goes sideways. Sometimes it is for no real reason other than two or more individuals just seem to go their separate way at a juncture in life, but most of the time, it is for a specific reason. I always try to be honest, upfront, realistic and respectful to everyone I meet. That is what I was taught early on, yet from another key personal relationship in my life...my late mother. I truly feel that because of this upbringing, I have been successful in my life. Lately, a farmer relationship that I have had for the last 16 years, has changed. She will not be doing the "restaurant thing" anymore. It is just too tough. Too costly and time consuming. I can't say I blame her. She needs to spend time with her family. I will miss the great, wonderful produce she brought in every week for the last 2/3rds of my professional life, but with this split in the road, the relationship is not gone or done. We will forever be friends. We will just need to now cultivate another relationship for new farm-fresh and labored over from the heart ingredients. That is a part of life and something that will create a new excitement and experience for me and my crew. A journey if you will. So, the moral is, even though something looks like it is a downer, perhaps if we look at it optimistically, the glass just may be half full. In these times of challenge, we all need to be optimistic. Hang on to those relationships that have helped you along the way. Hand down that inspiration and guidance to others. Share the ideas and thoughts with them to build new relationships in the future as they will all most surely have a great effect on your own life, as well as others.


A Dinner on the Island...

a couple weeks ago, I went on a short get away with my lovely wife and kids up to Whidbey Island to clear my head, get away from the bullshit of the city, a loss of a family member, and a f*d up situation with my rental property as well as the general overload of stress. It was very relaxing to say the least. On one of the nights, I had the opportunity to cook for a few close friends and family. I say opportunity because you see, with my position, it does not always come freely. I have to sometimes take what I can get. I know that to some, that may sound crazy and absurd, but really, when you have the level of administration and responsibility that I do, cooking is not the first and foremost thing that one does. I try to push myself to get into the fire but inevitably, there is always something to work on, some fire to put out, some employee that needs addressing or counseling, some detail that needs my view on or some meeting that has my damn name written all over it. That is what I signed up for so no crying here. In today's economic downturn and whirlwind of tornado proportion, this has made me even more focused on what to do next and this is a good thing. So, with all the craziness in the air, as I said, I take what I can get. The chef's tables are really my creative outlet. It allows me an opportunity to somewhat forget about the daily challenges and just cook with our team. It is a great bonding inspiration, or at least for me. When up at the Island, I just wanted to cook savory flavors with good wholesome products and with not much fuss from the heart. We went to the local market...well, not much truly inspiring product, but it was fresh nonetheless. Seafood blared out at me from the start...a hot saute of calamari with red chili pepper, grated lemon, garlic, spicy salumi, some tomato pesto in the fridge, white wine, evoo and herbs...a sure fire hit! Even the kids loved them. Next was some steamed local mussels...fresh from none other than...you guessed it; Penn Cove. Shallots, tarragon, thyme, Riesling, lime and butter with some tasty charred ciabatta. I then grilled some additional bread for a panzanella salad with olives, fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, sauteed onions and shallots, roasted garlic, and roasted eggplant. Toss in some balsamic vinegar and evoo and what a great salad to eat on the deck looking out at the sunset over the Island. Then I butterflied a fresh flank steak and filled it with sauteed crimini mushrooms, olive tapenade, grated Beecher's Flagship, herbs, shallots, garlic and cracked black pepper. Used a skewer to fasten it together (no string) and sprinkled generously with Tom's rubs with love Bengal Spice, which kicked ass! Pan seared then finished in the oven. Pair that with olive oil smashed yukon golds, and a pile of sauteed chiffonade of brussels sprouts, slowly allowed to caramelize with shallots, roasted onions from the pan of flank, sugar and walnuts. What an awesome taste. Lastly, I just could not be complete without something sweet, so I opted for Tom's buttermilk cake from his big dinners cookbook since my friend had it out as I was browsing ideas and I added some fresh chopped rosemary from her garden to liven it up. Macerated strawberries and balsamic with sea salt was the final embellishment to the wonderful meal. It is a far cry from the daily cooking we do at the club, and sometimes I ask why. Just different vibe I guess. No real buzz or adrenaline. It is times like these though that I always cherish and that keep me cooking professionally. It is what inspires me daily to not only cook, but to motivate others around me to do so.

Tastes of the Moment...

wow...where to start??? Hard to say. Have I even done so yet after the passing of my father? Although he and I were not that close, and my relationship with my late, great mother was far more close and special, it is still difficult to grasp at what I am supposed to do at times. As one could well imagine, after such a dramatic life circumstance that has been dealt to you by the Almighty, things just seem different. I am very fortunate that I have a fabric of team members in our brigade that are woven into the day to day ops to help me through it. Everybody in the kitchen has been very supportive. Thank you all. So, with that mentioned, we have had some great chef's tables, tastings and general dishes flying out of the kitchen of late. Here is just a smattering of new tastes I have been playing with. Unfortunately, no photos however. The camera was on the desk, not on the line! Bummer dude...

"barbecued" Maine lobster "burger, avocado, blood orange glaze, sturgeon caviar
truffled squash cappuccino, seared scallop, pears and celery root remoulade
grilled pompano, blood orange-pine nut-herb salad, olive oil potatoes, citrus glaze
seared hawaiian ahi salad, melon, watermelon radish, daikon sprouts, pummelo dressing
seared foie gras, hazelnuts, chocolate macaroons, caramelized pineapple, chocolate-ancho chile milk emulsion
marcona almond crusted coral cod, quail breast, squash puree, oyster mushrooms, charred leek vinaigrette
my new term for intermezzo..."bouchee revigorant" or invigorating mouthful...
fennel-carrot salad, nigella, raspberry-banana-yogurt sorbet, apple jelly
grilled kobe flat iron, salsify, hot "foie gras milkshake", hedgehog mushrooms
buttermilk panna cotta with citrus, cardamom milkshake, prune-armagnac ice cream
roasted monkfish, skate-quail composure, pearl onions, shrimp milk
pepper-cacao nib crusted kobe beef, shortrib-portobello tortellini, yellow foot
lamb loin, eggplant puree, sweet garlic, sous vide artichokes, Moroccan spiced pancake
foie gras milk chocolate