Still Life Kitchen...

Sometimes, it is all about being at the right place at the right time. Destiny I think. Other times, you are not even close to the same ball park, or perhaps you just don't have your camera with you. Enter the day of a chef~ You are in the heat of the moment...in the middle of battle...in the thick of the shit...no time to snap a shot off..."oh well", you think to yourself, I will capture that one later. Yeah right...you know...later never comes. These are just a few shots that just happened to end up making their way to this blog site. Not crazy food or anything, but a moment and glimpse in time in a professional working kitchen. Things in a kitchen simply evolve and take place. They tend to take on a mind of their own sometimes. That is how it all rolls. As a chef...you deal with or die. You foresee and anticipate...adapt and overcome...reflect, learn and move forward. Still life as it lie in front of me...enjoy!


Pursuit of Happiness...

scallop-potato terrine, saffron gelee, fennel-apple salad, mussels

trout roe, crispy potatoes, sriracha aioli, blood orange evoo

seared foie gras, hazelnut-cacao nib waffle, cranberry tapenade
pepper poached cranberries, persimmons, saba, gingerbread dust

champagne braised & grilled matsutakes, leeks, oca, pumpkin
micro greens, cider jus

seared hawaiian albacore, pumpkin pancake, creamed leeks
oca, matsutake, romanesco, cider jus

american bison sous vide, celery root puree, chanterelle gratin, crosnes
thumbelina carrots, scarlet turnips, banyuls vinegar sauce, micro kholrabi

chanterelle gratin, creamy polenta, crispy polenta
crosnes, caramelized onions, aged balsamic

dark chocolate slice, kumquats, figs, cranberry sorbet
pumpkin brulee, pumpkin torte, seckle pears, pear sorbet
fuji apple crisp, cinnamon streusel, bacon ice cream pop

As I think about that short yet powerful statement, I think about my own life and drive to obtain my own dreams. I have always been strong in the search for such luxuries and necessities to find my own nirvana. Whether in job and career, in love and relationships, in youth and wisdom and in passion and play. Go big or go home right? Why mess around with just getting by. I hate when people do that. Go after what you want. From the time I started cooking professionally, I was always striving to go after what I wanted. When I was merely a young, feisty garde manger cook, I was always looking at the hot line and getting in trouble for migrating over to see what was happening and learning the dishes that the cooks were putting together. It paid off greatly for sure. Not only did it teach me more about the operation and chef's desires, it taught me that not everybody does this. In fact, I was usually the only one in the kitchen going way outside of my position to do other tasks and learn new skills. Other team members would say to me "why are you doing all this extra work?" You are not getting paid for it. That's my point. They indicated I was sucking up and trying to get their jobs. Whatever! Do what you are supposed to and then some and you will be rewarded. They are probably still working on the damn line or more so...out of the business. As a line cook, I was assuming the sous chefs roles. As a sous chef, I took on the place like it was my own and ran it as I saw fit, of course with the chefs and operations philosophies in mind, but I was not going to just go with the flow, I have always felt that my cooking is my passion, not my job. A job(work) is only a job if you would rather be doing something else. This is what I love to do. Many are not as fortunate to be able to make the statement and be true to themselves about it. There are many great folks in this business, and many that do a great job, but that falls short of greatness as I believe that the true excellence comes from going after your dream, fulfilling your passion and having passion for what you do and not settling for mediocrity or selling out for the buck. I am in constant pursuit of my state of happiness and I try to teach that daily to my sons. Do what makes you happy and do it 110% Don't worry about the money. Money will come if you do a good job and pout your heart and soul into it. If you coast by, and just go with the norm and what everybody is doing because it is safe, then you will just blend instead of stand out. Have a voice. Make a statement. Push the limits and boundaries. Don't settle for less than the best. Continue to search and stay on coarse with your happiness and what drives that. Never stop! Your passion, excitement and drive are qualities that not everybody will possess, therefore, you will be recognized for your work and be happier in your self and in your achievements. And, at least you will know yourself what you do and be committed to satisfying your highest standards of excellence. Good enough is never that. Keep the faith...



Those three words do not always come in the same sentence. They are not always a part of everyone's vocabulary. They are not always the reality for many. In today's world and state of shit, it can be quite hard, hell, even flat out impossible to find such amazing qualities in life and especially all three together. This is a time of year that we tend to try, or at the very least, use them in the same greeting to others, whether we truly mean it, own it or are looking for it or not. It is these three words that I tend to associate with constantly. Some more than others. Happy...we all want to be happy don't we? We all try. Some have better luck than others. Some are not able to by way of chemical imbalance, some are full of it, some struggle with it and some have it then lose it as things change and loved ones come in and then suddenly out of our lives. I have always been blessed with happiness. I am fortunate. I am lucky. I am a pretty happy person. Most of the time. That is one hell of another story but I will spare the drama. Thanks...many of us are thankful for what we have in our lives. Many show it daily to those around us and those we love and hold dear. Some seem like the whole world owes them and thus are not thankful, but selfish and ignorant. Others take everything for granted. They take and never give. I have pretty much always been very thankful for what I have, although up until my becoming of a mid teen and then later my mother passing away, I was spoiled and didn't always see the true core of being thankful. After she left, I realized how important it is to be thankful. I am thankful for many, many things...my health, my two amazing boys who I love very much, my time spent with family, albeit not nearly enough, my career and my job and to those around me who have supported me throughout my life! I am also very thankful and blessed that I am happy most of the time and that I am able to Give... give of myself, give to my sons, give to those I love and to those that I do not even know. Thank you mom...for always teaching me and continually setting a great and powerful example of what it means to do so. Giving is such a powerful and meaningful gift in itself. Being able to give without expecting something in return or trying to further oneself as a reason or justification to do so is special and incredible. I have a big heart, which is probably why I was so drawn to this business and continue to be so passionate about my cooking and career. As I shared this thought with my oldest son, it made me stop and think about how important it is to give and to pass along those traits to those younger than I...to those whom we love, whom we work with, whom are not seeing the bigger picture and whom we are raising as our own. So, it is on this day, and every day that I say to you all...be happy, be grateful and thankful, be giving of yourself to others...you will be amazed at how it makes you feel. This is a tribute and dedication to all...from the kindest of folk to the most selfish of souls to the blindest young to the old and cranky to my late mother and father to those better than I!


Good Times part 2...the food!

caramelized carrot soup, coconut foam, grated macadamia nuts

duck confit salad, smoked pecans, pedro ximenez dressing

"torched" salmon belly crudo, fennel, pumello, ginger,
togarashi, hearts of palm, trout roe, sriracha aioli

seared foie gras, hazelnut-cacao nib waffles, cranberries, persimmons
saba dressing

fennel pollen crusted albacore, octopus, tomato fondue,
pork belly, olives, oranges, jus de poisson

chocolate, pumpkin, apples...
various preparations and flavors of the moment

And so here was the outcome of the food my son helped produce. To say I am or was proud of him will forever be an understatement. If only I could have experienced such a cool thing with my dad. Oh well...some get it...some do not.

Good Times Son...

D cooking foie gras for first time!

D cooking foie gras...amazing sight isn't it???

D plating and saucing lamb loin sous vide

D plating salmon crudo

D with his guests...

Being able to write about cooking with my son is nothing short of freakin wonderful! Amazing! Humbling to say the least. The feeling of standing next to your offspring doing what you love to do best, seeing them do it beside you while learning and growing and experiencing their own emotion and gratification is priceless. I can't even begin to explain it... if any of you have a young son or daughter then maybe you have felt what I am experiencing. It is a thought that can not be easily placed into words. An emotion that can not easily be transcribed into a description, and a gift from your heart to the those that you want only to do far better than yourself. I had that experience tonight. I was ever-so-fortunate to be able to cook for some folks that mean a lot to my son and I. We cooked a variety of dishes and ingredients that they had not had before nor had my son cooked before...at all! In fact, in the whole realm of cooking, he has only really just begun. No cooking school yet...no apprenticeship training...no transatlantic stages, just good ol' fashion school of hard knocks. After all, it's his first job and with that comes the world of confusion, intimidation and nervousness, uncertainty and pressure as well as pleasure. But I tell you, he did me proud. He always does. Today was one of those days that remind me of why I do what I do...to teach others, to hand down my knowledge of my craft, to show others all that I know and to leave a legacy behind in my two boys. Someday, I trust and have faith that my two young lads will understand what I have written all that I have worked so hard towards and what I am trying to teach them and thus will carry on with pride and commitment on their own. Here are some shots of "system D" in action...


Sweet November Reign...

carrot butter poached diver scallop

bloomsdale spinach puree, romanesco, hubbard squash, truffle, honshimejii

argan emulsion, carrot butter-saba vinaigrette

seared hudson valley foie gras terrine
challah french toast, foie mousse tartine, quince paint, pecans
seckle pears, truffle-apricot conserve, red ribbon sorrel

roasted black bass, bacon mashed potatoes, matsutake
apples, foie gras-cider jus, micro greens

citrus laced tangerine confit, meyer lemon sorbet, fennel jelly
pink pepeprcorn macaroon crumble

fennel crusted lamb tenderloin, crispy polenta, tomato fondue
salsify, pumpkin lamb jus

american bison loin sous vide, chanterelle gratin
baby thumbelina carrots, scarlet turnips, quince puree,

blackberry-pepper sauce


Let the food speak! Let it breathe, let it come alive and let it speak to the diner. That is what took place a few days ago...the food reigned over the table. The guests had a great time. It is always so inspiring and awesome to see the diner totally consumed in the meal and enjoying the taste, flavor, beauty and passion as it unfolds in front of them. It is what I do, strive for and try so hard to convey to our brigade...to maintain a satisfied, serious and focused kitchen brigade and to commit to achieving our guests' respect, loyalty and satisfaction as well, through hard work, continuous effort and dedication to the highest of quality standards. In the end... it is all about making people happy, including ourselves. In the end...it is about the quality of our work and asking ourselves if it is worthy of recognition and respect. In the end, it damn well better be good! In the end...live and cook in the moment cause' nothing lasts for ever~


Culinary Couture & Luly...

maine lobster & farmer carrot terrine

riesling gelee, compressed cucumbers, sriracha aoili, trout roe

black pepper langue du chat, red ribbon sorrel

braised short ribs, crosnes, scarlet turnips, chanterelles
horseradish potatoes, micro kholrabi, banyuls vinegar sauce

a week or so ago, we were presented with a fun opportunity in which we were to design, plan
and cook a dinner as part of a special auction for the 5th Avenue Theatre for some very special guests. As it turns out, the dinner took a turn for a different focus in that it was actually geared more towards a fashion show by a very prominent, successful and sophisticated local designer; Luly Yang. Her and her "models inc" were going to be parading her couture of the moment to the people that were ever so fortunate to be in attendance. The food unfortunately was although important, but no longer THE focal point. No problem I said to myself. I am mature...I can get beyond that...I am not too high and mighty nor too big an ego to play second fiddle, especially to someone as cool as Luly. Her shit really does rock. So, I planned a menu that would highlight, excite, tantalize, stimulate and pull the evening in together for a harmonious elegant soiree. Unfortunately, I didn't get many shots as we were running around crazy, but here is a couple shots of our own "culinary couture" that was on stage that evening. And although it was for mainly ladies of the know...the food did get much appreciated attention...from the first little hors d'oeuvre, to the amuse to the last nibble of mignardises and kitchen alchemy...again~ another tribute to the 6 years of blog posting. Fashionable yet satisfying!


Adapt, Improvise & Overcome...

chilled mussel salad, heart of palm, heirloom tomato, fennel

citrus vinaigrette, warm potato-lemon bisque

foie gras terrine, foie gras "opera torte", seared pave
apricot-truffle conserve, stewed ground cherries, saba drizzle, cacao nibs

fennel crusted south american corvina sea bass
leeks, artichokes, matsutake mushrooms, pancetta butter
pumpkin pancake

pepper crusted american bison, chanterelles, salsify, quince,
onion soubise, lingonberry essence

asian pear, fizzy, pear sorbet, candied celery

That is somewhat the case of what has happened over the last 16 years of my life, as I have made changes I believe for the positive and seen the many things unfold in front of me in which I acted upon to steer the course of my job responsibility as a chef. As chefs, we do this every day however...we adapt to an ever-changing environment and circumstance, we improvise with whatever product we have, whatever staff we may be so fortunate to or not to have, and whatever time we don't have and if we are at all worth our weight in fleur de sel, we overcome it all. We get by with a little help from our team. We suck up the shit and persevere. We forge ahead and struggle to make others happy at the sacrifice of our own happiness at times, and why??? Because we love what we do. We are sick, twisted, controlling, high strung, egotistical, head strong, passionate, demanding, precise, caring, giving and full of emotion with the strong urge to succeed and provide. This blog is a testament to the drive and passion that lie inside of me. These last 6 years have been a great time of writing and cooking and I further dedicate these current shots of various dishes to the blog and the 6 years spent with such great peeps helping me along the way to adapt, improvise and overcome any and all that have ever graced it's ugly head in front of me!


Seductive Eye Candy...

Well, almost 6 years ago to the day, it was back then that I started this humble blog about food and cooking with a post labeled simply as Eye Candy. I had heard about blogs but wasn't quite sure what to think of them, other than it could be cool. Still, I didn't make any motion to get one going. I was actually working on a cookbook, or at least I would think. When that fell through, I was searching for an outlet for my creative intellectual property. It was about that time that I had met a female colleague; Dana Cree who I had been introduced to by a former employee. He mentioned that she wrote this blog(short for web log) called the Phat Duck(now only a memory) and that I shpould check it out...thanks Tyler! I linked in to the site and started scanning her writings about all that is food, her experiences, her take on life, philosophy, emotion, food and cooking and her perspective about what is and what should or shouldn't be. She is a great writer. A light went on...an epiphany if you will. I knew that this was something I needed to do. I love to write, I love to cook, I love to share my thoughts and philosophy on things, I love to express my views(think LEO) and I love to take photos of food and share them with any who will view them. So other than my strong love for my two boys and music, this was a no brainer. She was the one I credit who inspired me to get this thing started. Although I do not believe she still writes for any blog(later she co-penned tastingmenu.com), I know she loves to cook and perfect her pastry. Thank you Dana for your inspiration on this. My blog has morphed and changed along the way, and although not perfect or even one on the top of the blog world, I enjoy it. The writing style has altered as my thoughts have evolved, but hopefully more fine tuned with my experience as a chef, my maturity as a human and as a writer. I come from a family of writers and I think it is something ingrained in me, or as a possible reality... maybe not. Mostly, the blog tends to inherit small clips of photos added in to express how I am feeling in the kitchen and with that comes a few paragraphs about the food, the frame of mind I am in, the emotion, the environment, the music, the inspiration, the team etc. I try to bring in all that is around me into my inspiration of the post. I get inspired to write and cook in so many ways...so many you will just simply have to read back through the years and figure it out for yourself. Heavy metal music, great ingredients, good passionate people, the weather and season, our purveyors and providers of the ingredients, the pain and pleasure in which I am feeling...you get the picture. So...it is with this post that I give tribute to the start of the blog 6 years ago, Dana who inspired me to start it, my family, the wonderful people throughout my career who helped me craft what I was thinking in my head and get it onto the plate, the Seattle Weekly who gave me some recognition a while back as being one of the top blogs in seattle(reads humble), this awesome city I live in, the puget sound region where all my life and experience has developed, the place I work, the chefs and cooks around the world who help inspire me each and every day to continue to do what I do through their own writings and cooking, and for my late mother and father...each of whom as writers and parents, I hope would enjoy what I have written and more so... proud of what I have done with my life and the legacy I hope to leave behind. In good food and cooking...cuisinier


Play Hard~Fall Hard...

"fennel & mussels 2 ways"

fennel-mussel soup, fennel frond, saffron oil

poached mussel salad, fennel sous vide, saffron gelee, fennel pollen

cuisson vinaigrette

seared foie gras, challah-hazelnut-cacao nib bread pudding
ground cherry conserve, peppered seckle pears, mosto cotto

pan roasted albacore tuna, cous cous-pancetta-chanterelle roll
honshimejii, carrots, chanterelle consomme, micro celery

crispy muscovy duck, quince puree & compote, corn pancake

truffled crosnes, pecan oil, saba, banyuls

praline chocolate terrine, figs, gianduja boisson
pumpkin sponge, banana, pumpkin ice cream, pears, gingersnaps
pear sorbet, caramel ice cream

That's what we do! We play all day in the cooking that we do, we work hard to achieve the quality and strive hard to achieve the perfection in our work. The fall is merely a metaphor in the time of year and season that we are so graciously within and yes, it is fun! Here lies a few shots of taste, goodness and flavor all encompassed and surrounded by autumn ingredients and uber flavorful combinations creating pleasure for the palate.


An Autumnal Arsenal...

carrot butter poached scallop, red zebra tomatoes, truffles

arugula, house cured lomo, noble sherry-carrot butter vinaigrette

seared foie gras, challah french toast, ground cherry conserve
hazelnuts, golden raisins, 30 year balsamic condiment

citrus smoked grilled catfish, moroccan fennel salad
almonds, plums, pineapple sage sauce

compressed asian pears, grains of paradise
lemon-pear ice, verjus

muscovy duck breast, quince puree, baby thumbelina carrots
chanterelles, poached quince, pecan oil, blackberry essence

pumpkin brulee, bing cherries, langue du chat
triple chocolate torte, espresso sauce, noyaux ice cream, "payday veil"
fruits of the moment, oranges, figs, pears, lemon, blackberry

Come ready to play...come ready to fight..come ready to kick ass! Any way you choose to proceed forward, be armed, ready and your guns loaded with whatever it takes to get the job done. In this case...we were locked and loaded with the ammo of the season. Rounds of Autumn they were. Lobsters...Carrots...Scallops...Truffles...Red Zebra Tomatoes...Foie Gras...Ground Cherries...Nuts...Figs...Asian Pears...Duck Breast...Chanterelles...Quince...Pumpkin...Pears and yes, of course...Bacon! As we fired left and right, our target subjects took cover and indulged into the ingredients with whole hearted content...surrendered to the moment. Cooking in the fall is an awesome time and one that any chef or cook should embrace completely. Think ahead, aim your sights high, pull the trigger on any cool ideas you may have and fire away at your ambitions and passions. No remorse...no regrets...just make sure you go out with guns blazin!