Pleasure vs. Pain...

A rivalry for sure. and yet, they can seem to go hand in hand, or at least that is how it feels at times, especially in the midst of a busy, professional kitchen such as ours. Maybe some(cooks) do not see it, but I do and I have for a long time. Almost a symbiotic relationship between two entities, two elements of nature, two forces that are merely emotions from within. Deep. From this passion I live, come a plethora of both...one not really more so than the other, just almost in balance of themselves...together as one. As I walk forward...a shattered snapshot of how I see it in no random order...

The pleasure of finding a career that you enjoy vs. the pain of not making the money you deserve and work hard for, or at least at first~

The pleasure of finding rhythm, cooking in a kitchen and all that it entails vs. the pain of not having a social life(hard change)~

The pleasure of being good at what you do vs. the pain of having to serve time in the passion prison you dwell~

The pleasure of cooking in itself vs. the pain of the business~

The pleasure of being part of something great and awesome, similar to that of a rock and roll band vs. the pain of the potential, inherit and probable addiction to drugs, alcohol & substance abuse~

The pleasure of a craft and career that you find redeeming and satisfying vs. the strain and agony it can place on a relationship or marriage~

The pleasure of cooking with great ingredients with a great team of passionate people wanting to do nothing more than the most awesome of food vs. the pain of cost constraints and general realities of the business~

The pleasure of working towards perfection and being the best vs. the pain of knowing those dear to you suffer and pay the price for you not being there with them~

The pleasure of making your guests happy vs. the price one can pay to do so~

The pleasure of the euphoric feeling pertaining to the creation of food and the passion it envelops vs. the pain of knowing that you will never reach your nirvana~

The pleasure of bestowing your heart and soul through your craft and cooking to a guest vs. the pain of knowing some will never get it~

The pleasure of truly making someone happy vs. the pain of only thinking you are or have been...only to find out you didn't hit the mark~

The list goes on and on for sure, but I think you can see the picture and understand the thought. In the end...I take the bitter with the sweet... the good with the bad... and of course, the pain with the pleasure! Good times!


To Spain with Love...

just a little tribute to that wonderful country that brought us Paella...Tapas...Pimenton...Sherry & Sherry Vinegar...Poteo...Bacalao...and El Bulli~

Enter...Chorizo Riojana! Game on amigo. Rich flavored with pimenton, garlic, smoked paprika, pork, back fat, black pepper...coupled with beautiful fermentation, slight acidity, robust taste and wonderfully magnificent mouth feel.


V Day 2011...

~cupids amuse~
ginger ale poached penn cove select oyster, raspberry-hibiscus gel
orange creme fraiche, chorizo, marcona almond, bergamot vinaigrette
micro chrysanthemum

seared sea scallops
port cured foie gras, compressed apples, hazelnuts, micro greens, saba
crispy onions and warm cocoa emulsion
pan roasted atlantic monkfish
calamari sous vide & bacon "porridge", honshimejii mushrooms, caramelized garlic gnocchi
sweet onion-blis sherry essence, micro celery

Mustard Glazed Poussin Degustation
breast sous vide, leg confit, grilled sausage with brown butter potatoes

truffles, pear relish, thumbelina carrots, micro kohlrabi
and sour cherry reduction
(missed shot)
cacao nib crusted american bison
black trumpet mushrooms, slow cooked artichokes, crosnes
fig-almond chausson, balsamic-valrhona manjari jus

"S is for Sharing"...
warm chocolate "coulant", cappuccino semi freddo, vanilla compressed pears
banana-pecan milkshake, chocolate-olive oil bites with popcorn

"dove bar stix", macaron sandwiches and black currant flavors

A bit on the late side I know since it was a week ago. I get it, I don't post often enough. Hell...I work. This post is all about and the tribute to the lover's package that was served up for Valentines Day Dinner on the 14th. Cupid had it goin on as the food took on a very sexy nuance to it. The bites tasty, the flavors sensual, the plates voluptuous and the vibe was cool. This day is probably the most favorite for me to cook. Other than chefs tables, wine dinners, guest chef events and the like, this seems to be a might where food is so much the main focus and the unexpected is expected! We play and have fun with the dishes and look to craft them with love, soul, whimsy and sensory excitement.


Just Pig Out...

The term just seems to fit. Eating, breathing, consuming, learning about and experiencing 5 local chef's paired with 5 local wines and featuring 5 local pigs...Enter Cochon 555 Seattle! Brainchild of Brady Lowe, the guy behind the swine. Five of our city's best chefs will be preparing as many tastes and bites as they can for the masses of foodies that will come to grace the halls of the Westin Hotel Seattle this Sunday, February 20th at 5pm.

John Sundstrom...Lark, Licorous

Holly Smith...Cafe Juanita

Rachel Yang...Joule, Revel

Jason Stratton...Spinasse

Ethan Stowell...Ethan Stowell Restaurants (anchovies & olives, tavolata, how to cook a wolf, staple & fancy)

Wineries will include Syncline Wine Cellars, Elk Cove Vineyards, K Vintners, Scott Paul Wines and Domaine Serene as well as many others.

Come to learn...visit to experience...drop by to dine on swine...or just Pig Out!


Habitual Pleasure...

Rosie and I have been on a serious quest in search of the perfect macaron. Books, mags, web sites, blogs, video chats, scribbled recipes and copies of thoughts on my desk and in my plethora of note books and folders! Complete madness. Ultimate obsession. Although I only have one photo of late, the list goes on and on. Different theories, different perspectives and concepts, and alas...different outcomes. Some great...some awesome, some a let down and some just plain shit. Technique varies as does the weather in Seattle. Good times. Proud to work with one so passionate and dedicated to the craft. Thank you girl...

Caught in the Act...

ginger ale poached kusshi oyster, carica, apple-beet roulade, beet gel
bacon, american sturgeon caviar, arugula, lemon-maple vinaigrette

ginger ale poached kusshi oyster, orange creme fraiche, dried bacon "bits"
micro arugula, ahi crudo, lemon-bergamot dressing

truffled painted hills beef tartare, brioche, smoked pecan, crispy shallot
noble maple vinaigrette & silky celery root soup, pecan oil

foie gras, compressed apples, sour cherry drizzle, olive oil-chocolate caramel
hazelnuts, cacao nibs, sweet onion puree

frozen yogurt-fennel pollen-elderflower lollipops

alaskan spot prawn, spinach, pomme mousseline
lobster-uni-golden caviar "porridge", gewurztraminer tapioca

free range chicken sous vide, sweetbreads, crispy farro, butternut
fig-foie gras "chausson", hedgehog mushrooms, truffle sauce

grilled american bison, pomegranate paint, black trumpet-potato "tart"
artichokes, turnips, pistachios, currant essence

valrhona manjari-olive oil- caramelized popcorn toffee

symphony tasting being developed
coconut-chocolate tear drop, mango, blackberry sherbet
cappuccino semi freddo, pears, espresso granite
date-toffee pudding, kumquats, dulce de leche ice cream
espresso cake, pear sorbet, coulant, cherries

a handful of food porn shots that ended up on the plate and in the eye of the camera lately. Some new...some twisted tunes of another day...some a spin on an old fav and some just came to mind as I was looking at the ingredients. Either way, they tasted great and we had a fun time preparing them all.


Chinese New Year...


tea smoked chicken, tapioca, pears, duck broth, scallion, 5 spice oil


dungeness crab & lemongrass wontons, carrot-cabbage slaw, daikon, black sesame,

pineapple, chilies, sriracha splash, hearts of palm


MIA-(not pictured)

~steamed~...jasmine rice

~sauteed~...sweet shrimp, garlic, mango

pork belly during glaze sessions...

cooks can't keep their eyes and hands off it

Honey & Soy Lacquered Berkshire Pork Belly
apples, onions, honshimejii, lotus chips, chili threads, baby bok choy

roasted pineapple-macadamia nut financier, coconut-chocolate tear drop
mango ice cream, pineapple caramel, vanilla

A bit past due, but hey, I work, I play, I cook...so get over it. It is the thought that counts of course. This was a re-do from last years fiasco. We don't even want to go there. Just think guest chef, not knowing crowd, us not knowing her style and competancy, ideas and such and a hungry crowd acutely aware of our abilities and expecting same caliber of execution...not happenin...Enter 2011- The Year of the Rabbit! This year was in our control. We listened...we contemplated and collaborated, we put into our own perspective and cooked from the heart. Although a bit rustic, it played well on the theme and the crowd. very tasty in every bite. Textures were exciting, tastes were fun and flavors were alive! I am not even a close relative to one Chinese, but in my humble summation, it kicked ass. The vibe from the guests was nothing short of spectacular. Simple and fun. Hopefully, we sent the group into a new year of prosperity, good health, good wishes of wealth and happiness.


Passion, Committment, Dedication...(part 2)

Align Center

foie gras "terrine", compressed pears, hazelnuts, cacao nibs,

micro burgundy amaranth

saba-hazelnut oil, savory olive oil-chocolate caramel

poached kusshi oyster, fluke sashimi w/ fennel, beet gel
apple/bacon roulade, steelhead roe, maple-pecan oil, micro arugula

"modern crudo" of wild japanese hamachi, carica, heart of palm,
spicy coconut wafer, pumello, togarashi, elderflower dressing, mizuna

roasted beet salad, fluke sashimi, tapioca, carica salad, ginger
yuzu aioli, apple-herb salad, chili threads

fennel crusted fluke, lentils, veal cheeks, parsley salad, bacon
walnuts, sous vide fennel, jus de poisson

pan roasted weakfish (sea trout)
same preparation, different fish, different taste

this is the follow up addendum to it's initial counterpart posted earlier...it is the lighter and more sexier of the bunch...the more sophisticated and chic, the more delicate and simply down right tasty dishes that tend to take on a more contemporary look and feel with a more more modern approach to them...enter the fish, shellfish and fish-meat combinations, as well as foie gras! These for me are very fun to cook as well as to prepare and present. I love fish. I love foie gras. I love vegetables and I love cooking all of them! Sure, I enjoy meat cookery as well...hearty and bold, masculine and meaty, very savory and unctuous at times. Food you really love to sink your teeth into. But let's face it...meat can be a bit clumsy or dull, if only in visual alone. It is heavy and a bit rough around the edges at times. I have enjoyed many, many meat dishes over the years and walked away feeling very proud and stoked with my work in the realm of meats, but alas...in the end, fish, foie gras and vegetables are where my heart is. Oh yea, I almost forgot (stupid me)...I almost forgot about one of my most greatest loves in cooking...CHOCOLATE!!! That is another story in and of itself...


Passion, Committment, & Dedication...(part 1)

merlot braised short ribs, crispy sweetbreads, hedgehog mushrooms
"3 onions", celery root puree, mustard-thyme-pear essence

roasted atlantic monkfish & glazed sweetbreads
black trumpet mushrooms, caramelized garlic pancake, carrots & salsify
truffles and silky turnip "bisque"
seared sea scallop & veal sweetbreads
truffled turnips, black trumpet mushrooms, turnip "bisque", black currant sauce

american bison loin sous vide, cacao nib crust, artichokes, crosnes
pears, hedgehog mushrooms, roasted eggplant, argan oil

coffee crusted loin of lamb, hedgehog mushrooms, potato gnocchi
red wine braised cipolline onions, fennel sous vide, shallot-mosto cotto sauce
ras el hanout oil

green apple mustard rubbed bison loin
sweetbreads, artichokes, wild mushrooms, crosnes, pearl onion glace
wild huckleberry essence

syrah braised painted hills beef short ribs
black nile barley, vadouvan cauliflower, honshimejii mushrooms
cranberry-pear relish, smoked pecans, foie gras sauce


Those are only several things I believe necessary and crucial to achieve a plane even close to perfection. Again, we must know that as humans, we probably will never, ever reach that place. But, as such, we must never stop trying, for it is then when we stop growing, learning, and moving ahead in our craft. As a chef, I always strive and am driven to continue in my pursuit of perfection and aim to produce the best food I can. Sure, there are times when again as people, we get fatigued, exhausted, sick, emotional, angry, frustrated and lose focus on our goal because of a multitude of outside influences, which inevitably distract us and hold us back from our potential, but at the end of the day, we must forge ahead, no matter the resistance. As I rocked my ass off at the Ozzy/Slash show last night, I was reminded that one must never lose sight of what's important and never stop having fun and striving to give the "crowd" the best show and experience that you can. Put your heart and soul into all that you do! At 60+...Ozzy sure does and that's how I roll too. Here are some shots from various plates of cooking in the moment at the chef's table of late...enjoy and keep the passion strong!


Castille ~y~ Leon...

~the motley crue~
~sopa y ensalada~
smooth du puy lentil sopa, creamy ajo espuma,
"cecina de RC"(dried bresaola) coca, olive oil-pimenton sponge, black trumpet
idiazabel, micro arugula, arbequina "tapenade"

charred northwest red rainbow trout a'la plancha
savory chickpea-cuttlefish stew, chorizo riojana, crosnes, hedgehog mushrooms

dauro de l'emporda olive oil, romesco crumbs

spanish coffee con leche cake
pears sous vide, quince confit, dulce de leche ice cream, grated almonds
honey, chocolate-chili lollipop

In a word...freakin cool! Ok, well maybe two, but what the hell...you figured it out right?? This lunch was yet but another fun wine committee gathering, complete with the normal wine folk and seasonal ingredients in which to become inspired by. Those usual suspects being passion, imagination, creativity and a bit of insanity. One must have a little of each at hand in order to create in that next realm. To find yourself without any, is like not having your mise en place for a busy service...game over! You lose! We were fortunate to have some very nice guests from a cool happenin' region in Spain called Castille y Leon visiting us for the event. It is of northern central areas that sport vast areas, high mountain ranges, and superb wine growing conditions for hundreds of hectares around. The day prior, we met with two visiting chefs, a few wine gals, and some other cool peeps who were on hand to talk about the wines, the region, locale, general pleasantries and share in their own passion as well. The chefs had asked to come in the kitchen the next day to help cook but they apparently went out the night before and tied one on something hella fierce and therefore showed up about a half hour prior to service. No worries. Those dudes know how to party! Rock and roll I say. Our team executed service well, cooked some damn fine groceries, showed the chefs around, laughed, conversed and shared stories. Good times! Now it's time to travel to their region in Spain and reciprocate!