Shared By Two...

every now and again, I am blessed and honored to cook for those that truly are inspiring to me as a cook and a person. Sometimes it is an obsessed foodie who is one of the culinary hipsters of the area, other times a truly amazing and wonderful couple who exude greatness, kindness and appreciation for the craft and generosity of what a good chef does, or perhaps a cool rock star fellow chef in the industry or, the ultimate, is cooking for and sharing my heart and soul with those close in my life. No matter the case and opportunity, it is a really great excuse to pour my guts out onto the plate in front of them, all the while pushing myself to the limits in pursuit of perfection, excellence and taste. This meal, was all about the celebration of a 27th anniversary...and so it was...27 courses, and then some,
shared by two...
truffled scrambled eggs, lobster, chervil-lime crème fraiche

frozen foie gras lollipops, fleur de sel, caramel, granny smith apple
arctic char tartare, fennel, rhubarb, celery leaves, fennel tuile

sexy spoons filled with taste, flavor and excitement

albacore tuna crudo, radishes, endive, verjus cucumbers, tarragon
maine lobster, avocado, roasted pineapple, coconut, sturgeon caviar

thumbelina carrots, garden beans, herbed mascarpone, crisp potato
warm duck confit-fuji apple salad, ginger, vadouvan, honey, saba

smoked salmon, chives, horseradish crème fraiche
roasted bartlett pear, verjus pickled honshimejii mushroom, micro sorrel

rabbit confit turnover, caramelized onion, rabbit loin-foie gras skewer, pistachio, arugula
roasted & sous vide beets, candied walnuts, walnut powder, maple gel, miners lettuce
sesame & soy glazed chicken "oysters", shallots, garlic, soy pearls, scallions

rhubarb-licorice fern root soda

asparagus tip salad, cured ham, chevre, romesco crumbs, arbequina olive oil
seared jumbo scallop, fava bean tapenade, marcona almonds, wood sorrel, shiitake chips

spring garlic-herb custard, portobellos, green garbanzo beans, pecorino, onion blooms

shrimp-baby carrot salad, macadamia nuts, curry vinaigrette, micro greens, papaya
carrot-ginger soup, lemongrass, coconut-grains of paradise foam
seared alaskan halibut, leeks, sweetbreads, house bacon, saba-delicata oil

douglas fir glazed quail, butternut squash agnolotti, butternut-pear salad, kabocha oil
shellfish bouillon, crispy pork belly, escarole, honshimejii, chili threads
hand rolled tagliatelle, truffles, crab legs, uni, lobster essence

fennel-cucumber salad, celery, verjus peppered strawberries, fennel yogurt lozenge

lamb loin sous vide, prune puree, fava beans, pecans, eggplant jus
ras el hanout duck breast, baby artichokes, golden raisin agro dolce, cipolline onions
syrah braised short rib, hedgehog mushrooms, celery root, salsify, mugolio syrup

"cheesecake brulee", grapes, brown butter sable, smoked pinenuts,
charred cinnamon milk foam

chocolate caramel tart, preserved cherries, pears, espresso sauce, cherry gel
praline-chocolate flake milkshake
apple-toffee torte, apple confit, smoked wood ice cream, chocolate anglaise

happy 27th L & R

banana chocolates, banana-bacon macaron
salted caramels, jasmine dove stix


Good, Bad or Indifferent?...

You decide. I have said many a time in the past that there are days when one should not cook, especially me. If one is in a funk or out of their head with whatever shit that may play havoc on them, it might just be best to have the team step up and do what they do best. You can still navigate, direct, coach and mentor and craft, but maybe don't take point on this one. We can not all be on the very top of our game every day. It is impossible. We all have issues from time to time...great days and bad. Emotional stress and anxiety. Pain and struggle as well as over joyous happiness. Fatigue and hypersensitivity. It is best I think to play your main role of cooking when you are at your best or at least close to it, thus allowing for the optimum mental attitude, positivism and clarity. Now, that said, I have also stated that some of my best work, at least I felt was at a time of complete brokenness. Oh well, that is up for debate and for another discussion. My point is, is that one's view of your cooking is perhaps different from another and altogether a departure from your own. The other night while cooking a special menu for a group, I felt completely out of sorts. I don't know what the hell was up, but I could not get in sync. My mind was wandering, my rhythm was off, my timing poor, my focus lacked and my thoughts so unclear. I was completely distracted for whatever reason, but as I paid attention to the diners, I could tell they were having a great time, or so I would think. I shared my thoughts with our team about my state and discussed the need for coherency and focus. It was interesting to me that course after course, I continued to feel unhappy about my cooking and that it was not until the last meat course where I felt at peace about things. In the end, I believe that the guests enjoyed themselves. It was a special celebration and close gathering thus hard to have a bad time in those circumstances and environments. This leads into a topic of commitment to excellence and the dedication to perfection. Striving for a goal that is really quite unobtainable in one's eyes, knowing you will never reach that peak, and may not satisfy yourself, although it is likely you will have satisfied most everyone else, is so profound. This very well may have been the case in point that night. Food for thought. As for the food...you decide. I'm still searching.
rabbit loin salad, asparagus, sous vide beets, beet paint, maple gel
pistachios, micro arugula, chevre-potato napoleon, pedro ximenez dressing

seared jumbo sea scallop, fava beans, salsify, chorizo, meyer lemon potatoes
wood sorrel, sturgeon caviar, wood sorrel sauce

pan roasted monkfish, seared foie gras, porcini creamed nettles
melted spring garlic, carrot-cardamom emulsion, shellfish-herb nage

poached rhubarb, meyer lemon, celery, licorice fern ice

coffee crusted lamb loin, hedgehog mushroom-cipolline onion compote
baby artichokes, prune puree, smoked pine nuts, onion blooms
golden raisin-onion agro dolce, eggplant-balsamic sauce


Guerrilla Kitchen Warfare...

And so it goes...onward we fight the culinary battle amongst the the rivals of our profession, vying for the chance to be on top using any tactical advantage we can as a single force against the masses and chains...aiming for excellence...striving for flavor...dedicated to the craft and challenge...searching your heart and soul for identity...committed to being the best, even if you know you wont achieve it in this lifetime! Today was not any different. As I look at the dishes and the food, I only see the need to be better. New ideas. New flavors. New ingredients. New thoughts to ponder. New things to inspire me. I know that there is not an end to this process. Nope...only the end itself. I ask myself if I make a difference? Maybe.
"rabbit salad"
pistachio seared loin, dried fig mostarda, beet paint, compressed apples, miners lettuce, pistachio milk
confit-cipolline onion turnover, rye, pedro ximenez dressing

seared foie gras & sea scallop
maple gel, rhubarb, candied walnuts, walnut powder, aged balsamic, rhubarb dressing
fennel crusted alaskan halibut
king trumpet mushrooms, carrot creamed nettles, spring garlic, thumbelina carrots
hot tarragon mayo, wood sorrel, celery juice-oil infusion

yuzu pudding, grains of paradise, fennel, meyer lemon meringue
meyer lemon-mint granite

meyer lemon-cucumber-mint soda

cacao nib crusted oregon beef loin
prune and celery root purees, smoked salsify, fava beans, hedgehog mushrooms
crispy onions, elderberry jus 


Master, Mentor, Magician?...


I was truly humbled and amazed to be a part of, and witness something so enlightening, exciting and professionally honorable last weekend in Seattle. And, to have not only met the gentleman, but to have actually held a conversation with him(through his interpreter mind you) was nothing short of incredible. So to score a personal photo op with him was over the top. Enter Ferran Adria! For most, we know him as the chef extraordinaire and maestro who lead the Michelin starred machine known as elBulli in Spain. The man who paved the way for the avant garde cooking we see today in the most modernist of restaurants, only he created it a handful of years before it came to the mainstream. The genius who elevated the use of the whip cream chargers to produce the most obscure of foams(think sea urchin and cinnamon bark or smoked tobacco with espresso and hazelnuts). The mad scientist who along with consultation of other MIT's crafted and perfected such wizardry as hot and cold gels, thermal reversible concoctions, thickeners, emulsifiers and liquid nitrogen frozen whatever's. But perhaps to others, those less in the know, he is merely a  fancy cook. One hell of a creative and inspirational cook at that! Listening to him talk about the need to search for one's creativity, the contemplation of what is an ingredient, the philosophies about what if and why not, the creation and the life of the world class restaurant elBulli and the future of the foundation in which to teach, mentor and provide in-depth information and education for the entire world was simply fascinating. Overwhelmingly inspiring. As I sat for 2-plus hours and listened to him speak about the concept of instead of spending 90% of your time working and 10% researching and learning, only progressing so far, to reversing that to 90% in research and 10% in the work. Imagine the level of growth, knowledge and creativity that would offer. Our outreach, progress and development would be of astronomical proportions. Chef Adria and his brother Albert, with the help of his rock solid team, botanists, scientists, nutritionists, chemists and god knows who else have truly done for this profession and craft in the latter part of the 20th and the turn of the 21st centuries what Escoffier, Larousse, Brillat-Savarin and Careme did for the turn of the one prior to that. His mission is to document, analyze and record each and every step and procedure for each recipe so that we as a global community have a starting reference point as well as a direction for the future and beyond. Brilliance at it's best. As I reflect, I walked away with even a greater sense of passion, respect, inspiration, desire and commitment to in some small humbling way offer my contribution to this generation and beyond. Thank you chef. May I ever be so lucky.


What's Life For...

Many I'm sure, long before me have asked this question to oneself. Many have answered to which there are as equal amount of rationales. I would surmise that the response is quite similar in nature...to enjoy all that it has to offer...to take what it gives you and make it better...to take advantage of everything one can and make the best of it...to not settle for less than the best...to not waste time in the negative and move into the positive...in essence, if you don't like your current situation, change it...to leave a legacy and a positive impact on those close to you, your family, your community, your nation, the world...and, to focus on what's important, and don't sweat the small stuff, because in the end..its all small. I found myself pondering that thought and the pursuit of happiness while cooking the other night. I always try my best to leave my mark, a memorable experience, a long lived impression for the better. Does this cut it...Who am I to say? And so I ask...What's this life for?
Here us a few dishes that were inspiring to me...
duck confit-bucatini pasta-king trumpet mushroom terrine
fig mostarda, maple gel, celery-celery leaf-hazelnut salad, charred pears
celery root remoulade, crispy potatoes, sherry-delicata squash seed oil dressing

wild mushroom-caramelized cipolline onion turnover
aged chabichou chevre, micro arugula, compressed apple, saba-noble xo dressing

grilled new zealand sea bass, butternut squash agnolotti, hot pine bud mayo
brussels sprouts, mushroom-truffle salad, mugolio drizzle

sous vide porcini crusted lamb loin, toasted barley risotto, glazed parsnips
roasted baby turnips, cauliflower-golden raisin agro dolce, black pepper-shallot essence


Tribute to my Inspiration...

At different times throughout my cooking, from day to day, from moment to moment, I dig deeper and grab what is burning inside me. It is driven by dedication, passion, motivation, commitment and inspiration. Dedication to the craft, my team and myself. Passionate about the food, the results possible and the diners who are about to consume the dishes. Motivated to set the bar high, to teach a team member something new, to teach myself. Committed to being the best I can be, to giving the guest the highest quality they can expect to achieve anywhere, and to my own search of excellence. Inspired by the moment, the ingredients before me, the guest(s) who are coming, the music I am listening to in my head and all that is around me...
crudo of kona kampachi, pickled beets, verjus compressed apples, cara cara oranges
yuzu pudding, micro arugula, watermelon radish-heart of palm-celery leaf salad
lemon sherry-delicate squash seed oil-soy pearl dressing

seared foie gras, walnut-black pepper honeycomb, walnuts, walnut powder
blood orange-parsley salad, shallot-walnut-cacao nib French toast, citrus-px dressing

sesame & ginger frog legs, garlic, honshimejii mushrooms, crispy carrots
black garlic potatoes

grilled new zealand sea bass, truffles, leek-brussels sprout composure, trumpets
butternut agnolotti, grilled pears, hot pine bud mayo, pine bud drizzle

hibiscus-jasmine soda, lime-mint confit, lime sorbet, coconut gel, grains of paradise

beef rib loin sous vide, prune-sherry puree, toasted & fried farro,
bloomsdale spinach with hazelnuts, caramelized salsify, leatherwood honey-charred cinnamon foam
banyuls-blueberry-dark chocolate essence

valrhona manjari mousse napoleon, walnut dacquoise, preserved cherries, cherry gel, smoked wood ice cream
coffee anglaise, granite and soil, brown butter pot de crème
praline-chocolate flake milkshake

meyer lemon pates de fruits, hazelnut macaron, salted caramel, fennel shortbread


Revelations of Taste...

To reveal what one is thinking can be profound, exciting and invigorating. It can be sad, hurtful, and painful too.  When one cooks, he or she reveals and discloses much to do about oneself. It is so personal, special and inviting and full of character. It is thoughtful, generous, heartfelt and a gesture of goodness. A distinction of amazing identity. Even love. I have experienced all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Sure there are times that when we as professionals cook and do what we do for the job... for business... and for profitability! However...it is often that we share of ourselves from deep within and give because that is what we do and even who we are. Here lies before you a revelation of culinary philosophy, taste and flavor for some pretty cool folks celebrating two special birthdays, who truly love good food. I can only hope that I am always able to share my creations with those who appreciate it as much as I do. I look forward to my next revelation with that in which I cook and for whom I cook for. Until then...
maine lobster, grapefruit, avocado, american sturgeon caviar, yuzu-champagne-elderflower sabayon

seared scallops, gold and red beets sous vide, cured ham, cured lemons, maple gel
beet chips, arugula, pimenton crumbs, squid ink vinaigrette

silky onion soup, apples, soy pearls, lobster foam
sesame and ginger glazed frog legs, radishes, compressed apples, vadouvan, mushroom powder

close up of sesame & ginger frog leg salad

seared foie gras, lemon pudding, honey bunches of oats, fig mostarda
walnuts, walnut powder, cacao nibs, cured blood oranges

grilled columbia river sturgeon, celery leaf-celery salad, celery root remoulade
currants, almond & hazelnut romesco, nasturtium coulis

rabbit confit, truffles, thyme, honshimejii, truffle custard, crispy potatoes

tangelo-fennel salad, tangelo sorbet, grains of paradise, tangelo-hibiscus soda

ras el hanout crusted duck breast, white bean puree, cranberry pudding, brown butter crumble
hedgehog mushrooms, honey roasted cipolline onions, banyuls sauce

brown butter pot de creme, cherries, praline-chocolate chip ice cream
salted caramel-chocolate tart, pear chutney, smoked wood ice cream

the menu of the moment...