Dog Mountain Dinner...

Last week we embarked on yet another cool culinary collaboration with one of our local farms...Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation, Washington. Cindy and David Krepky, the owners and keepers of the garden, fowl and other furred and feathered creatures there were able to supply us with a good handful of their hand-harvested vegetables, herbs, poultry and fresh goats milk for this dinner. We have been in a farmer-chef relationship for just about 8 years now I recon and it is one that as a chef, it pleases me to no end to use their product. The relationship and bond between a chef and a farm, in which both are committed to serving great, fresh and healthy food is so important. It sends a clear message to our patrons and community that we are very concerned about the freshness and wholesomeness of the ingredients and the quality of what we are serving to them. By purchasing directly from the farmer(s) themselves, we are able to learn, grow and help sustain the local economy and get closer to the desired results of the end product by working closely with them. It is a mutual educational and beneficial endeavor, and one that I believe makes a big difference in the dishes I am to create. These three dishes were based on what was available in the moment, which in the Northwest in May, is not a whole lot unfortunately. Sure, we probably should have waited until July or August to use the plethora of fruits, vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, ducks, goats and such that they will have but oh well, we went for it anyway. In addition to the ingredients from DMF, we also recruited another one of our favorite friendly farm partners, Mark Lovejoy from Garden Treasures in Mount Vernon. Collectively, we all played vital roles in making this dinner a success! Here is the menu and description of the creations as they came to be...Warm Poached Duck Egg Salad
english pea coulis, radishes, peas, asparagus, edible flowers, bacon
bacon caramel and a walnut-maple-sherry dressing

Roasted French Colored Range Chicken
(truffles & oregano under skin and spring garlic leg cooked sous vide)
fava bean pancake, king trumpet mushrooms, braised greens

stewed spring onions and infant leeks

Rhubarb & Strawberry "Salad"
pepper compressed strawberries, poached rhubarb, chervil
candied fennel, pistachio financier, goats milk gelato, fennel meringue
and meyer lemon olive oil


A Little Nibble...

May has been a great month for logging time in our kitchen! We have been quite busy and blessed with a plethora of events and specialty menus to prepare. It was almost to the point where we were unable to catch our breath, or so it seemed. As always, the team and I persevered, hung in there, grew a set of balls and kicked ass. There were farm dinners(more on that one soon with photos)...special marketing events...the chaine de rotisseurs grand dinner of food and wine...wine lunches...laureate recognitions and of course...chef's tables! Top that off with the season start up of soft shell crabs and copper river king salmon and you have yourself a party in the kitchen with the team. There will be some upcoming posts about the cool farm dinner and a few other nibbles and noshes but I will leave you with this menu for now to close out the month. It was a chef's table dinner for one of our most special guests. I hope you enjoy the read as much as we did cooking the groceries(sorry, I do not think I shot any photos). Many ask me how do I come up with my dishes and ideas. I simply tell them that the inspiration and ideas come from just about everything around me, both past and present. The mood, the mental craziness, the weather, the people I am to cook for, the ingredients, the team and the energy level of us all, the anxiety and adrenaline and the list goes on and on. A bad day, stress or a disagreement had earlier, or on the other hand a great day, sex or a totally riveting song can change the ideas and menu in various ways, sometimes for better and for worse. As I wrote the menu for them I was listening to Metallica's classic Fade to Black and here is what was inspired from that awesome tune. Inspired? Tainted? Good or bad...either way, it was inspiring to cook!

Maine Lobster Slider
shaved mango, sturgeon caviar, shiso, ginger-soy aioli
Copper River Salmon "Crudo del Fuego"
english pea coulis, micro cilantro, pea-asparagus salad
blood orange olive oil, crisp shiitake
Grilled Hudson Valley Foie Gras
cherry-onion relish, rhubarb coulis, walnuts
blis maple-walnut dressing
Mustard & Herb Crusted Soft Shell Crab
fava bean pancake, bacon, corn, king trumpet mushrooms
cassis-mustard sauce
Guava Gelee, Shaved Fennel, Aprium Ice
Sumac Braised Wild Boar Rib
pork cheek ravioli, morels, baby turnips, carrot puree, ramps
smoked valrhona essence
Warmed Vermont "Bijou" Crottin
truffled apricot conserve, pears sous vide,
truffle-olive oil milkshake
Milk Chocolate Pave, Espresso, Passion Fruit Ice
Lemon Pudding Cake, Compressed Strawberries, Rhubarb Ice
Caramelized Pineapple, Caramel, White Chocolate
Bacon Caramels, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Linzer Wafers


Eye Candy 5.10...

fennel crusted alaskan halibut
truffles, peas, king trumpet mushrooms, lovage

tea smoked chicken, asparagus, potato salad
pea puree, lemon oil, asparagus vichyssoise

I have posted a handful of shots in the past, simply listed only as "eye candy", in which it is my vision to have you see these shots as a mere tease of the moment only to inspire one to cook and furthermore...eat! There was not really any form or fashion, rhyme or reason, or philosophy about the postings but to inspire. Here are some more dishes of late that are bits and pieces of greater sums of their parts. Some were chef's table elements cooked by a few for only a few...some were part of a larger "menu gastronomy" that encompassed our whole team for a huge crowd. Either way, the dishes came together as you see here and were very well received by our guests. Most importantly, we were pleased with our work and yet collectively we found new areas where we can refine and improve. Always a process and a journey to fulfill that next fix and to strive for perfection. One thing is for sure...candy is sweet, whether for our mouths or for our eyes! Enjoy~
belize shrimp, heart of palm, guava gelee, lemon compressed
cantaloupe, golden caviar, crispy ginger threads, bronze fennel

truffled goat cheese spoons, panzanalla crumbs, honshimejii mushrooms

quail galantine, pistachios, apricot-truffle conserve, micro tatsoi

cepe crusted lamb tenderloin, ramps, white bean puree
carrot emulsion, crisp salsify

chive & mustard rubbed lamb, potato vapeur, king trumpet mushrooms
fava beans, crispy onions

wild morel and smoked salmon salad
potatoes, lemon panzanella, asparagus and pea boisson


Existing in Action...

hors d'oeuvres in action...

"unknown soldiers" in background getting ready for amuse course

lobster cappuccinos in action...
hors d'oeuvre team getting their groove on

Recently, while cooking for the gourmand group of food and wine connoisseurs; the Chaine des Rotisseurs last Friday, I happened to take a few candid shots of the moment of some of our brigade. Sometimes what you see right in front of you at the time, does not sink in until you are able to step back and really absorb what had taken place~ and it is then that you realize this is the true state of their mindset of the moment. It is great to see the passion, the dedication, the devotion to the craft and the utter commitment to trying their best. Sometimes, I think back to my own past and wonder if I too was that focused or maybe not? I know there are times when I am or was in the "zone" and do/did not have a clear vision of my own existence as I was too caught up in the heat and passion of the moment operating on loads of caffeine and sheer adrenaline of the meal itself and the dedication to it's perfection...or search and mission thereof. As if anyone will ever get there. I am proud of our team and all that they do. Kick ass my cuisiniers...

amuse in action...

cuisiniers staging nuances of the first plated taste

foie gras plating in action...

focus and attention is the only way to accomplish this correctly

foie gras in action scene 2...

B-side to this single of the awesome compilation of tastes


The Chaine Soiree...

~hors d'oeuvre~
saba glazed pork belly, caramelized garlic, compressed granny smith apple

fresh belize shrimp salad, cara cara orange, heart of palm, meyer lemon
avocado parfait

This past Friday, we again had the opportunity to cook for about 70-something of some of the region's most well heeled, well versed diners around. This is a group of gourmands originally founded in Paris and part of an international gastronomic society who travel the world over to seriously dine and enjoy great wine in some of the best restaurants and with some of the best chefs. What an honor and a privilege to be called upon to enter that arena! Enter the Chaine des Rotisseurs. Since about 1200a.d., they have been doing so in such form and fashion to promote the importance and preservation of camaraderie of the table. Fast forward about 800 years and here I am, presenting our craft with an awesome team of cuisiniers and service to show our shit and cook from the heart. We are not strangers to the Chaine as we have been blessed for about a decade or so with being able to cook for them for various special soires and events. This was their annual induction dinner whereas a handful of new prospective members and many current ones gather to welcome in the new flava of the moment. It is very high profile, with very high expectations. After all...they have 8 centuries worth of history and of epic proportion to base them upon! The photos shot herein show a glimpse of our "own moment", standing for truth and honesty in cooking, and all about pushing ourselves to do our very best, giving our mentored crew, culinary students and young commis' as well as the kick-ass seasoned few, something to believe in. I believe we hit that mark and did just that. Now...if we could only surpass it. Probably never will be possible in this life time but that will not keep us from trying nonetheless. We feel and teach that things can always be better and more refined and that is why we don't stop our continued commitment towards excellence. Au revoir...

crudo of yuzu cured alaskan halibut, shiso, yuzu kosho, togarashi

silky lobster "cappuccinos", ginger-anise milk, fennel pollen

~amuse du soire~
chilled english pea "boisson"
coral profiterole, dungeness crab- compressed cantaloupe melon skewer, carrot gelee
and micro cilantro

honey bunches of oats crusted foie gras
poached rhubarb, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, rhubarb gastric, bulls blood
navarro gewurztraminer "glass"

"garden treasures" asparagus salad
warm morels, cuttlefish "tagliatelle" sous vide, duck egg drops
lemon-parsley "panzanella", bergamot dressing

roasted columbia river sturgeon & veal cheek ravioli
braised ramps, peas, spring garlic jus, crisp shallots and carrot oil

~bouche revigorant~
riesling gelee, caramelized pineapple, melon granite

slow cooked loin of lamb

carrot creamed nettles, king trumpet mushrooms, fava beans
thumbelina carrots, trampetti olive oil and a heady truffle sauce

valrhona jivara lactee "pave", house preserved bing cherries, bacon caramel

earl grey ice cream, caramel anglaise, spice tuile and cocoa croquant


One Amongst Many...

A humble recognition that brings a plethora of my appreciation for it! An inclusion amongst local chef bloggers in the Seattle area so noted by Seattle Weekly in which this chef's visual platform was one their top chef's blog picks this week. For a while, it seemed that this was a site unseen, or so it appeared anyway. I would see the site traffic stats, then immediately became amazed that somewhere in the far distant reaches of the world in Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Denmark or Iceland or Iran or New Zealand that this little posting of my personal take on culinary shit actually meant something to somebody somewhere. Who knew? I post because I have passion about cooking and writing collectively and more so, about people. I write about what I cook and what I do. I do not always focus on what everybody else will like, so long as I like it, yet I am sensitive to what they enjoy and work hard to achieve that through my work. I cook from my heart and soul and not without passion, discipline and dedication to the craft. I post photos of cooking and ingredients for those that care and share the same love of cooking and eating that I do and for those that do not. I am honored to be included and part of such a cool pool of other chef bloggers and am gratified by this recognition, not for my own ego but for the blog itself... one that really started out as nothing more than a digital notebook of my own in which to share with others. As I look back at how I got started on this blog, I need to acknowledge a female pastry chef named Dana(famous for her own blog, the Phat Duck in the Pastry Department and most recently, co-writer and blog poster of Tastingmenu) who used to work for me briefly and inspired me to do it. Thanks Dana.


Lobster Sliders...

A twist on a growing and tasty trend of bar bites...Lobster Sliders! These originated out of the necessity to conjure up a fun and playful, whimsy amuse for a gathering of foodies at our recent chef's table. We have dabbled in this realm before, and have come up with this. We start with a freshly proofed and baked "parker house" bun, seasoned and topped with a sprinkling of nigella seeds and sea salt. Then, a "dot" of ginger-soy aioli from a squeeze bottle, two slices of gently cooked(3.5 minutes for whole lobsters, then cooled) lobster, which is then adorned with a smattering of turbinado sugar and bruleed with the help of a blow torch. Over the lobster, comes a nice mound of american sturgeon caviar, a thinly shaved slice of fresh, tart champagne mango, a delicate shiso leaf for a fresh minty-licorice like note, a drizzle of lobster-vanilla oil, sea salt and the top of the bun skewered ever-so-carefully above. To top it off with it's proper accoutrement...we create a bond of taste with two slices of crispy fried lotus root "fries".

in the making...

a flight of sliders for five...


Two Dinners to Inspire...

Over the last few days, we were blessed with the opportunity to cook for a couple of special groups of friends and foodies for some special occasions. Is this NOT what we as cooks love to do most? To just cook!?! To become inspired...to exude our inner passion about food...to put it all, our reputations on the line for those that enjoy it!?! Well, that is what takes place in our kitchen, and god help us...always will! One dinner was a special birthday celebration while the other was a chef's table for a family enjoying a 20th anniversary and a 12th birthday. Each were different and each enjoyable on our end and to no end. On one hand, we had a large group with a time constraint, high expectations and the need to pull this together without sacrifice. We were moving, loving it and didn't disappoint. Like clockwork it was. The latter, more relaxed and here for the duration. We conversed...exchanged past experiences...shared stories and laughed, especially about the term "virgin" when I was explaining a dish to the table and the 12-year old birthday girl; sweet as turbinado, asked about what that meant. That is another story in itself, in which I indicated that I would let her mother explain that one. I think they heard us laughing as far as Portland about that one. Here are the crafted dishes from start to finish, from one dinner to the next, from me to you. I hope you enjoy the visual!
Scene 1...

Ahi Tuna Tartare "High Heels"
preserved ginger, bronze fennel, blood orange olive oil

Maine Lobster "Martini"

elderflower compressed cantaloupe, opal basil, golden caviar

lobster vinaigrette and a coconut-lime granite

Crudo of Mediterranean Daurade
yuzu cured, togarashi, cara cara oranges, purple mizuna, cucumber-watermelon radish composure, meyer lemon sabayon

Seared Diver Scallop
tea smoked chicken, peas, braised ramps, honshimejii, tatsoi
and a foie gras nage

Local Ling Cod Sous Vide
glazed pork belly, fava beans, carrot creamed nettles, walnuts
crispy shallots and a spring garlic jus

Pan Roasted Loin of Lamb
baby leek-apple puree, rhubarb braised turnips, grilled king trumpet
rissole potatoes "boulangere" and an aromatic lamb jus

Dessert Symphony
chocolate pot de creme, coconut cupcake, pistachio financier, lemon pudding cake
various fruits, ice creams and sorbets of the moment...

Scene 2...

Maine Lobster "Slider" Amuse
bruleed lobster, shaved mango, american sturgeon caviar, shiso
ginger-soy aioli, scallion puree and lotus root "fries"

King Salmon Salad Sous Vide
fennel pollen crusted, heart of palm, bronze fennel, shiitake chips
and a chilled asparagus "vichyssoise" boisson

Herb Seared Atlantic Fluke
seared foie gras, braised ramps, peas, lemon-parsley "panzanella"
and a foie gras nage

Seared Sea Scallop & 12-Hour Cooked Sumac Glazed Wild Boar
baby carrot-purple mizuna stew, spring garlic, honshimejii, carrot emulsion

~bouche revigorant~

rhubarb dressed cantaloupe, avocado, opal basil, coconut-lime granite

Pan Roasted Loin of Lamb
"pommes vapeur", fava beans, lovage, grilled king trumpet, crispy onions
"virgin" hazelnut oil, aromatic lamb jus

Syrah Braised Painted Hills Beef Short Rib
artisan white grits, artichokes, truffles and pomegranate essence