Category Archives: Chefs
After 3 years writing about healthy Mediterranean food, dishes, entrepreneurs, recipes and tips I have finally decided to take the plunge and to push a bit harder in my compromise to advocate for a healthy fun way to eat. So this time the entrepreneur is me!
Since last September I have been working as co-founder of Greenkrate, a startup based in Seattle to launch a school lunch boxes service delivered to your door twice a week.
So, well we are finally on stage! We are now accepting orders to begin operations in the Eastside area in late January. Our menu focuses on balanced, appealing, easy to manage cold dishes for kids that we will keep them happy, energetic and fueled for their long and demanding school day. Each day’s lunch is pre-packed in separate compostable containers. All you need to do is store them in the fridge, and they’re ready to grab-and-go in the morning.
We know many kids can be picky eaters, so we’ve designed our menu to be approachable too. We have always available substitution meals plus vegetarian versions of each meal and nut free options. And we only work with the best quality, organic, local and seasonal ingredients.
We are a small team of parents that want to make a difference in our kids diets giving you convenience and saving you time and money. Do you want to jump in?
You can find info about how to order your meals here
And you can see a whole week sample menu here.
Writing about a massive food event like Seattle Food and Wine Experience is always tricky. It´s like trying to describe a complicated puzzle piece by piece to the eyes that never had the opportunity to taste, smell and see all the bounty and the complexity that the Pacific NW (and our special guest, California) have to offer.
You also know that your body and your mind have to physically endure a lot of food and alcohol offerings and you don´t really want to feel silly sick or terribly bloated after this. The idea is having fun not a post event nightmare. So my strategy is grabbing a first bite, usually It will be close to the entrance, jambalaya in this occasion, and a glass of sparkling water and go for a first quick tour all around the place to see and prioritize your favorite pit stops.
I was particularly interested in the American Lamb Board´s Brews and Ewes Experience but I wanted something lighter at the beginning so I dropped by Chinoise restaurant booth. Unluckily the Bibimbap that gave chef Thoa Nguyen the victory against Bobby Flay in the Food Network show had ran out but the poke salad was really good too… A bit too much spicy for my Occidental taste though.
So I needed a glass of wine to rinse my palate. White if possible. Chateau Saint Michelle Riesling was a really interesting option. Loved again the classic, everyone´s favorite, the dry one but Eroica brand was quite an interesting discovery for me a bit more fruity but not overpowering. Both good options not only to enjoy as a drink but to steam clams and mussels, two of my favorite seafood dishes.
Just landed in lamb´s territory I grabbed one of the winning bites of the day, the smoked lamb meatballs from Gavin Stephenson, chef from The Georgian at the Fairmont Olympic hotel. Cute tiny little pots were used to highlight the hearty spirit of the dish and the potatoes were simply awesome. I felt more disappointed with the cold and not so appealing sticky rice cake from Frolik. Lamb plays better with a more traditional simple approach as its flavor is strong enough. So interesting the info displayed by the American Lamb Board about recipes, pairing and cooking techniques that you can find also in their web.
Talking about funky unexpected meats… meats that we love to cook in Spain I was so lucky to bump into Nicky Farms based in Portland. This company, created to support small ranchers in Oregon sell to retailers and restaurants delicacies as quail, goat, rabbit and venison. I had the opportunity to enjoy a really goat mortadella prepared by chef Seth Fenald from Lark and to have a fun experience exchanging with them my tips as a Spanish cook. Talking about more meat I had the opportunity to taste dirty rice with pulled pork for the first time from Davids & co a small American restaurant located in Benarroya Hall and It was pretty nice too.
The truth is that the pattern of not so much fish at all and this will be mainly salmon was played yesterday too. It´s a bit disappointing that a place like Seattle who is at the sea doesn´t take full advantage of this location to enjoy even more the gifts of the sea.
Time for more drinks… chosen carefully and sipped frugally. Fun the honey beverages from Nectar Creek in Corvallis (Oregon), interesting my first Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards, although I´m a girl of Grenache and Syrah, really happy with Jet Black Syrah 2014 from Alexandria Nicole Cellars who will be released this summer. Close to zero the Spanish wines representation at the event. Only Bodegas Torres 2014 5G Garnacha paired with Iberico cured ham… A hidden gem that I hope any foodie didn´t miss.
I wouldn´t to finish my SWFE chronicle without featuring the small entrepreneurs and artisans that work so hard to fulfill their dreams and to give us amazing food or condiments. It´s always so fun to talk with them and to learn from their experience and their journey. Sportsmen´s cannery, Rusty´s cheesecake, Forte chocolates, Copperworks Distillery are only a few of them. Special mention for Alaska Pure Sea Salt and Co from Sitka (Alaska) who worked for 5 years to find the perfect flake salt, the salt that I call Maldon. A bunch of dreams, goals and experience under the same roof for a few hours. This is Seattle Wine and Food Experience.
Click on any photo to see the full gallery
It could sound bizarre to interview a chef about his new project without having tasted his food. Well, not exactly. My most rewarding culinary experience since I came to Seattle a year and a half ago was my visit to Spinasse to enjoy their amazing squash ravioli.
I´ve made two reservations in Aragona that I had to cancel in the last minute, every mom should understand me, and you need to book so in advance that It´s been impossible for me to come. But I contacted Jason Stratton, Aragona´s chef before Christmas and I didn´t want to lost the opportunity to interview him. So let´s think in this post as a previous intro to Stratton´s culinary universe that more sooner than later will be tested in the field.
The love relationship between Stratton and my country began a long time ago in Granada. “I wanted to be a writer and I lived Granada, Lorca´s homeland for a few months. It was there when I feel deeply in love with the Spanish cuisine”, explain. In fact, he still keeps his scrapbook from that time full of ideas and thoughts.
But he needed two previous business, Piedmontese cuisine Spinasse and Artusi Bar, to come to his final dream of having a “not authentic but fully Iberian in spirit” Spanish restaurant.
The election of the name Aragona, coming from my homeland region, has a reason of being too. “I´ve read a lot about the Crown of Aragon and I´m fascinated about how they conquered the West Mediterranean and about this powerful influence in the cooking of the East of Spain”, says. “Visiting some different areas from Spain I realized this particular style could fit perfectly in the Pacific Northwest, where you can find many ingredients like veggies, seafood, fish and truffles too”.
Spanish cuisine is all about few but high quality ingredients, flavors and simplicity. But as Steve Jobs said: “Simple can be harder than complex”. So for Jason Stratton looking for the best fresh ingredients has been a priority since the beginning. “We work with local producers and artisans to assure the best ingredients for our dishes, like Viridian Farms in Portland”. In this farm Spanish varieties like Padrón peppers, cardoon an borraja grow from spring to late fall.
But simplicity is not always easy to be embraced. When I ask Jason about which of the dishes in the menu is most misunderstood for the customers he tells me that the Black Cod in Adobo. “It´s fish marinated in vinegar and deep fried, so people think is a kind of fish and chips, low stuff”. I smile, because every andalusian would get offended to see his revered “pescaíto en adobo” treated as fast food.
In my opinion, this is the main challenge Aragon will have to face in his first year of life. The idea that an upscale dish needs bells and whistles to impress. And that you need to pay an extra for the best ingredients, although the technique, looks, maybe is not, so easy.
But Jason Stratton trusts Pacific Nortwest foodies. “Seattlelites are more interested than ever in healthy, local high quality food. I think the Spanish cuisine time is arriving”.
I agree. And I´m looking forward to come back to this airy, bright, simple but stunning place to try Aragona menu. Anyway, the wine list is so huge overwhelming and well curated, Chris Tange is Aragona´s sommelier, that I will need to follow the experts advice and studying it in advance.
Because you don´t need to be Spanish to be a great Spanish food chef. You only need passion, talent and honesty. And Jason Stratton, this shy, kind and thoughtful chef that was elected as one of the best 10 young promises in the US in 2010, has all this attributes so far.
“Bourgeoisie” is typically thought of as the elitist part of society, the top tier – and it is often a term that is looked down on. Though my business name sounds as though I am catering to only the top tier, that could not be more wrong. My tag line (Meals of the elite, Taught to the masses) really demonstrates my mission.
My name is Chef Ricky. I grew up south of Philadelphia in a fairly poor household. Food was important to our family, and how we interacted. My family…along with extended aunts, uncles, grandmothers & grandfathers…used food as a way to sit down, nourish & spend time together. The holidays were a time when large portions of the family would gather at a relatives house for dinner. Stories & jokes were told, laughter was often the main course. It was at these parties, watching my Mom, aunts & grandmom cook that I really took a liking to the art of food. Not to mention I love to eat 🙂
As I grew I continued to cook and learn – though I ended up going to college for psych, not culinary. My brother & I were the first to attend college and I wanted to choose a “safer” career, despite my parents protests that I could study anything I wanted. Flash forward 11 years – I have moved to Seattle, no longer crave a career in psych and really want to delve into the world of food. After working/running several bakeries & catering places in town, I was done, I had had it with restaurants. I needed to start my own path, working for others was driving me crazy. There were two things I saw in the restaurant world that really annoyed me. 1) A lot (not all) of chefs/cooks/bakers are very pretentious and very guarded about their skills. They do not want to share, and they certainly do not feel as though someone who didn’t go to school could be a master at food. 2) A lot of non restaurant people felt the same way about themselves.
Well, I didn’t go to school for culinary or baking, and I CERTAINLY didn’t feel that way. I wanted others to feel the way I did, I wanted others to know they could cook the way I did – the way they saw famous chefs on TV cooking. This wouldn’t be 30 minute meals, or a great way to make grilled cheese (though I LOVE grilled cheese) This would be showing people that food & cooking are an art everyone SHOULD know. Pate choux, coq au vin, beef bourguignon, wellingtons, seafood, duck con fit – all with in reach of even the most inexperienced cook. Bourgeoisie Brunches, my mission & my business, was born.
BBrunches – as it has affectionitly become known – offers classes to any level of cook. Not just classes, but I am a mobile chef. We compile a custom menu together, I shop for us, bring recipes and come to YOUR home. I show you how to use YOUR kitchen and YOUR tools. I teach using food science to explain what is really happening in the pan. You cook with a recipe and a chef right by your side to see how easy & delicious food can be. I can, and have, taught classes from 1 to 65 people – and ages 4 to 65. Due to the nature of cooking I teach (from scratch) people also learn the value of cooking with whole foods. Using ingredients that have not been processed. There is no need to add a ton of salt or fake fats to make food taste good. You can start to move away from a world of pre prepared food, to a world of creation and imagination. My goal is to inspire others to use & teach my recipes to others. To keep the learning going through generations so that the art of cooking does not just fall to those heralded on TV as “master chefs.”