The VUDE – Promoting Culinary Inspiration in Seattle

Tuesday February 4, 2014

The_VUDE_Dining_RoomWhat a cool concept Jon Staenberg has in The VUDE (The Velvet Underground Dining Experiment) in downtown Seattle. It is a unique venue where both established chefs, and up-and-coming chefs, can have the opportunity to showcase their talents to a small group of seasoned culinarians. It is designed in an intimate, warm setting which seats about 45 people at 3 long community tables. The kitchen is open to the guests, providing them with the opportunity to flow freely from the dining room into the kitchen just as they would if you were making dinner for friends at home. This allows guests to interact with the chef during the evening, making for a unique, fun experience for both the chef and the diners. The standard menu (created by each chef) is at least 6 courses, plus many chefs will also serve hors d’oeuvres as well.

Guests_in_the_kitchenFor the chef, the intimacy of The VUDEmakes for a warm, friendly, casual evening of cooking and provides a chance for the guests to interact with the man/woman responsible for the evening’s culinary fare.

So, who would make a guest chef appearance at The VUDE? Well, the culinary bar has already been set pretty high! Seasoned Seattle favorites such as Jason Wilson of Crush andJohn Sundstrom of Lark have done a stint at the VUDE (see the full lineup of previous chefs below). The draw for established chefs to the venue is that it offers a place for them to “get out of the box” of their normal kitchen to play a little bit and to interact in a more intimate way with their guests. And for those up-and-coming “undiscovered” chefs it is a chance to show off what you have, a place where you can test your metal and make your mark.

In fact, in an effort to to feature and promote new chefs (as in chefs with limited or no previous media coverage, not new to cooking), Jon has started a new series called Up and Comer Sunday Suppers which highlights undiscovered chefs in the Seattle region. So, if you’re an experienced chef and you know of a talented chef who has a good reputation amongst his guests and peers but who hasn’t gotten his chance in the spotlight yet, or perhaps a sous chef who needs to take a step forward, talk with them and contact Jon Staenberg about the possibility of an appearance at The VUDE.

Potential candidates must have experience plating upscale multi-course menus for 50 or more people. A chef-mentor is allowed (perhaps expected) to assist in making sure the event runs smoothly (after all, guests are paying!)

If you are interested in being a guest chef and want to know how the kitchen is equipped jump to that section.


After gathering this basic info about The VUDE I had some interview questions for owner Jon Staenberg.

Plate-upQ: As regards your long-term vision, what reputation do you hope to have among chefs? What do you hope chefs will think about cooking at the VUDE?
For chefs, we want to be a place equivalent to On The Boards or Townhall in Seattle; the kind of place to do things that are outside the box, that is reflective of where they are now, what they have been thinking about and brings together new ideas and a great, enthusiastic and appreciative (though critical) audience. The VUDE wants to be a blank slate where new “art” can be tried and trialed. And most importantly we want to respect and celebrate all that is part of this amazing food culture that is changing the world today.

Q: Same question but for your diners. What do you hope diners will think of the VUDE?
Years ago someone said “kill the restaurant.” We do NOT want to do that but we do want the opportunity to help shape what people think of as a great dining experience. We believe that deeper connections with the food, the wines, the chefs and even the other diners can create a more memorable experience. Diners want and are starting to want more. They want the stories behind the stories. They want personal moments. They want a total experience. And we should not forget what they expect, and we want to deliver great food and wine.

Q: What is the ultimate goal of the VUDE?
It is an experiment and The VUDE is our laboratory. Is there ever any ultimate goal? It is a work in progress. We have learned a lot and inspired many. If we keep doing that, then we will be good.

Q: How can a guest chef appearance at the VUDE benefit the chef’s business?
One of the main goals of The VUDE is to help people discover. Like a TED talk perhaps. Sure we have a large list of foodies who hear about every event and we are active on social media and we create great content of the event itself, but we now are starting to hear people say, “Yeah that chef has cooked at The VUDE” as if that is also a pretty good stamp of excellence. We are curators and I think people get that we are only doing events and bringing in chefs that are new, fresh and original.

Q: Does the guest chef have to pay for all the food?
No! We don’t expect any chef to be out of pocket ever and we hope depending on the chef, theme, event etc that we can provide a few shekels for their time and effort. We really have three kinds of events (loosely categorized):

  • Celebrity Chefs
  • Up and Comers
  • Private event chef-ing opportunities

Each of these is a bit of a different model. Generally, the more a chef helps us drive the marketing and sales the more we share in the net proceeds.

Let’s Check It Out!

Cocktails_3_300.gifJon invited me down to actually attend one of the events. So on Tuesday February 4th I made the 2 hour trek to Seattle for an enjoyable evening of food and wine. Specialty cocktails this night were prepared by an up-and-coming chef, Jonathan Jason Proville, who is on the list to make a guest chef appearance at The VUDE. His cocktails included 2 creations: The Rye & Smoke had Old Overholt Rye whiskey, Lemon, Black Tea, and Smoked Olive Oil! A very cool, complex, satisfying drink. The Sherry Cider had a Washington Apple Cider, Amontillado Sherry, and Lillet Blanc…a refreshing cocktail.

Chef_Bill_PattersonThis particular night’s guest chef was Bill Patterson, chef/owner of Orcas Island’s Sazio di Notte, a restaurant with strong Italian roots. Chef Patterson uses local products as much as is possible, and raises his own pigs for the restaurant. He is passionate about his food, and unafraid to tell you his opinion about food! When I asked if he was using Penn Cove Mussels, he exclaimed “Oh no no! Those are much too small. I prefer Taylor Shellfish oysters because they are larger, more mature, and therefore have more flavor. The same is true of baby vegetables… they are immature and lacking in flavor.” And true to form, Chef Patterson’s food was delicious and not lacking in good flavor!

It’s difficult for us chefs when someone else critiques our food saying things like, “Oh it needed a little bit more of this” or “It could have used a little less of that” etc. And because we are chefs, we tend to be hyper critical of everyone’s food…even our own (if we’re honest!) So I’m not going to go through and critique each one of chef Bill’s courses. Instead, I’ll simply say that he is clearly passionate about his food and he has excellent technique and flavors. The mussels were served just as they opened, the salad had a perfect balance of flavor, his pasta (freshly made on premises) was exquisite! And the osso bucco was perfectly fork tender. If you find yourself on Orcas Island, you must plan to dine at Chef Patterson’s place, you won’t be disappointed.


Chef William Patterson
Sazio di Notte
February 4, 2014


Tartines Agrodolce
Ceci con Gamberi

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Rye and Smoke
Sherry Cider


Cozzi Siciliano
Inama, Soave Classico Foscarino




Vino Nobile di Montepulciano




Tagliatelle Pastore
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano




Polenta con Gorgonzola
2010 Hand of God, Fingerprint Series Red




2010 Hand of God, Old Vine Malbec




Caffe Ladro, Hand of God Unico Blend Coffee


The Kitchen Layout

The kitchen has one commercial Viking gas range with a full-size oven and six top burners. Commercial size pots, pans and brazier/rondos are available. There is a fair amount of counter space with an 8 foot prep table against the wall and a center prep/plating table about 12 feet long. There is a commercial dish machine and dish racks, and one over-sized refrigerator with a lower freezer compartment, so refrigeration is a little limited…plan accordingly.

For guest chefs, servers are provided by The VUDE so the chefs only have to focus on cooking and plating. A variety of nice plates, bowls, silver, glasses, Riedel wine glasses, cloth napkins, and other standard service essentials are provided, as well as someone who will do the dishes. However, if you want to use platters you should bring your own.

The_VUDE_Kitchen_1_800.gif The_VUDE_Kitchen2_800.gif



Past Guest Chefs at The VUDE

Plate-up_2_800.gifChef Thomas Black
Bill the Butcher
Michael Strate
Cormac Mahoney – Madison Park Conservatory
Jason Wilson – Crush
John Howie – John Howie Steak
Tibeiero Simone – “La Figa” cookbook
Maxime Bilet
John Payne – formerly of Herb Farm
David Barzelay – Lazy Bear
Tomer Shneor – Nomad Dinners
Renee Erickson – Boat St Café
Chris Keff – Flying Fish
Zoi Antonitsas – Westward
Jason Vickers – FEZ Food Truck
Chris Blanco – Raikes Foundation
Jason Stratton – Aragona
John Sundstrom – Lark Restaurant
John and Caprial Pence
Tha Marc Restaurant
Chris Lobkovich – Brass Tacks
Mike Easton – Il Corvo Pasta
Chris Opsata – Brass Tacks
Meeru Dhalwala – Shanik
William Belikis – Mistra

Want to join the ranks of guest chefs who have appeared at The VUDE? Contact Jon Staenberg to discuss the possibiliies!
Have you been a guest chef, or have you attended one of the dinners? Leave a comment below!

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David Buchanan is a professional chef and author of, a site geared towards providing chefs and culinarians useful info to help in their kitchens.

Posted In:Food and Wine

Taste of Tulalip 2013 – Grand Taste

Taste-of-Tulalip-2013-Plate.gifThis year at the Taste of Tulalip’s Grand Taste enthusiastic revelers were offered a more extensive selection of excellent food and wine than ever before. With over 20 culinary delicacies to nosh on and over 120 wines to swirl & savor it was indeed an all day indulgence type of outing.

2013 marked the 5-year anniversary of the popular event, and to accommodate more people, food and wine we saw a redesigned layout of the event which expanded into additional areas of the Tulalip special function rooms. This expansion gave the feeling of a much less crowded look and atmosphere.Even with more attendees, the crowd “felt” smaller, and the lines for both food and wine were very short or non-existent.

Since I was already sore from Friday’s event, and the week of prep leading up to this point, I started my day with the typical chef’s breakfast supplement of a triple hit of ibuprofen…repeat for lunch and dinner.

For events such as this, a detailed mise en place list is the lifeblood of success. Without it one small thing is going to be overlooked which could then kill the entire day, causing you to pull your hair out while you scramble to recover from a small but essential oversight in the day’s necessities. A good list includes not only the food items and garnishes, but also the towels, utensils, equipment, sanitation buckets, plate design, and whatever else you plan to use that day.

Going through my list early in the day and double-checking it I noticed that my butane burners were not at the table. Come to find out two different departments expected the other one to get them for me. It was settled by sending someone to the store to buy additional ones for my station…a fatal oversight caught and averted before it became a problem. Tell that bastard Murphy’s Law to piss off!

The Food at the Taste of Tulalip 2013 Grand Taste

We served about 1800 pieces of each item this day and each creation was conceptualized and hand crafted by the designated Chef and his/her crew. Unfortunately my good camera died the week of the Taste so I had to use my iPhone for the pics…but at least you can get a good idea of the food served.



Rock & Roll Challenge

The Rock & Roll Challenge is a fun “iron chef” style cook-off. Three display kitchens (provided by Viking Range) under one tent, three teams of 2 chefs each, the exuberent Carla Hall as MC, jammin rock & roll, and an identical mystery basket for each team! This year’s chef teams were comprised of 4 local chefs and 2 Tulalip chefs. When they opened their mystery baskets they found foie gras, live geoduck, and Chito’s! They then had 10 minutes to work out a menu and battle plan, 30 minutes to produce samples for the judges including Chef Kristen Kish, and then an extended period of time to prepare their dish for the spectators. And the winner was Chef John Jamamec.

The Wineries to Sample

With so many wines to sample many guests opted to stay at the hotel this year, making their travel from beverage to room convenient, safe, and arrest free! Because Tulalip is located in Washington State the majority of wineries featured are from here…part of Tulalip’s commitment to local products and business. Many of the wineries offered second pouts, however I heard that some of the French wines being poured had a dealer cost of $400 – $600 per bottle, so there was a one pour limit on these high-end wines.

Grand Taste Wines at the Taste of Tulalip 2013


Adams Bench
Amavi Cellars
Ambassador Vineyards
Andrew Hill Winery
Barons Winery
Barrage Cellars
Bergevin Lane Vineyards
Betz Family Winery
Boudreaux Cellars
Cadence Winery
Charles Smith/K Vintners
Cahtaeau Ste. Michelle
Chinook Wines
Col Solare
Corliss Estate/Tranche
Côte Bonneville
Cuillen Hills
Dunham Cellars
Dusted Balley
El Corazon Winery
Figgins Family Wine Estates
Force Majeure
Furion Cellars
Gorman Winery

J Bookwalter
JM Cellars
Kevin White Winery
L’ Ecole 41
Leonetti Cellar
Long Shadows
Mackey Vineyards
Mark Ryan Winery
Milbrandt Vineyards
Northwest Totem Cellars
Obelisco Estate
Pepper Bridge Winery
Pondera Winery
Quilceda Creek
Rasa Vineyards
Revelry Vintners
Ross Andrew Winery
SalidaSaviah Cellars
Seven Hills Vineyards
Sleight of Hand Cellars
Sparkman Cellars
Spring Valley
Terra Blanca
Waitsburg Cellars
Willis Hall
Woodinville Wine Cellars


Aberrant Cellars
Beaux Fréres
Domaine Serene
King Estate
Owen Roe
Patricia Green Cellars
Penner Ash Wine Cellars
Sokol Blossor
Willa Kenzie Estate


Amuse Bouche
Gaurachi Family Wines
Nickel & Nickel
Rubicon Estate
Silver Oak
ZD Winery


Camille Giroud
Chateau Palmer
Domaine Laroche
Domaine Michel Magnien
Domaine Nicolas Rissignol
Dominique Mugneret
Nicolas Feuillatte


Bodegas Riojanas
Dominio de Atauta
Dominio De Tares
Gonáles Byass
Marques de Caceres
Pesquera Winery
Vall Llach

This year’s special guest line-up and agenda

Chef Kristen Kish – winner of season 10 Top Chef Seattle.
Chef Carla HallTop Chef contestant in seasons five & eight, and co-host of her the TV show The Chew.
Chef Lois Ellen Frankculinary historian, anthropologist, award winning author and photographer.

Saturday, November 9th
VIP Beer Seminar – 11:30 am
Kristen Kish Cooking Demo – 12:30 pm
Magnum Party with 250 attendees – 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Grand Taste with 2,000 attendees – 2:30 to 6:30 pm
Rock -n- Roll Challenge – 4:00pm


Posted In:Food and Wine  /  Taste of Tulalip

Taste of Tulalip 2013 – Celebration Dinner

Taste-of-Tulalip-Plate-2013.jpgTaste of Tulalip Commemorative Plate 2013

This year marked the 5th annual Taste of Tulalip, an event which is being hailed as the “Aspen Food & Wine show of the Pacific Northwest”. It has been awarded the Washington Wine Restaurant Award for “Best Event Featuring Washington Wine” by the Washington Wine Commission, and each year the event endeavors to be better than the previous year.

The Taste of Tulalip is a celebration of signature food, wine and tradition featuring unique, upscale tastes crafted by the eight chefs (yes, 8 chefs!) hired to oversee the property’s food venues. The Tulalip chefs (full disclosure…I am one of them) go above and beyond to serve unique, flavorful bites which leave you aching for more! We are not talking about the Bruschetta and soup you see served at a lot of food shows. This year the selections included elk tenderloin, seared pork belly, red sear Ahi sashimi, and Diver Scallops to name a few. The event is geared towards culinary and wine aficionados, but it is also a great place for newbies to try cuisine and wine which they have not been exposed to before. And the atmosphere is friendly and casual…not snobbish or elitist.

This year’s special guest line-up included

TOT-Wine-Bottle-art.jpgChef Kristen Kish – winner of season 10 Top Chef Seattle.

Chef Carla HallTop Chef contestant in seasons five & eight, and co-host of her the TV show The Chew.

Chef Lois Ellen Frankculinary historian, anthropologist, award winning author and photographer.

Each year a new wine bottle and charger plate are creatively designed by a tribal artist. This year’s artist was Jason Gobin. Pictured on the left is the magnum bottle, but 750 ml bottles are also designed. The wine is available for sale, but the chargers are only available if you attend the Celebration Dinner and are given as a gift to all attendees.

For the chefs, this event means prepping a plated course for 400 people on Friday, amuse bouche for 2000 on Saturday, and for me, a special Native American Brunch for 75 on Sunday. Below we are making the pine spheres, using molecular gastronomy techniques, for my Friday night dish Huckleberry Sockeye Lox Tartare with Pine Sphere. I took fresh new spruce pine shoots, cut the needles off and discarded the stems (which contain sap and a resin flavor). I then added water to the needles and pureed the heck out of them (love the Vitamix blender!). Strained through a chinois. Added the pulp back to the blender with more water, and repeated the process 2 more times. Then I added a little simple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. This made my pine sauce. (note: I had to do this in June when the pine shoots were fresh and young, then I froze the sauce).


Friday kicked off the 3 day culinary marathon with the Celebration Dinner, a 7-course indulgence featuring dishes which explored traditional tribal ingredients worked into modern interpretations and specifically paired with some fantastic wines.

For the chefs, this is the culmination of multiple tastings to get the food & wine pairing right, and hellacious hours prepping & planning every detail to try to make this dinner service go as smoothly as possible. For a typical plated banquet function like this, the entrees are pre-plated and held in a hot box a short time before service. But not this event. We want this to be as close to restaurant service as possible, hot from the stove to your table! Our mandate is to plate 400 covers (plates) in 15 minutes right into the waiting hands of the waitstaff. 400 covers in 15 minutes ala minute service!


To accomplish this we set-up 5 plating lines (so each line only had to plate 80 covers). Each line had 6 – 8 people on it and each person did only one thing, which means about 40 people helping to plate! (We are very fortunate to have a good relationship with Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute…they provide us with some willing students each year for this event who are essential to making this a success. It’s a great experience for the students…and it provides us with the skilled hands we need to pull this off). So using my plate as an example, one person did each of the following steps then passed the plate down the line:

  • Place the plate on the line
  • Add sauce
  • Use a spoon to make the “swoosh” for the sauce design
  • Add cedar sprig garnish (I know, it’s not edible; “don’t put something non-edible on the plate”, blah, blah, blah!)
  • Add dehydrated yellow beet crisp
  • Remove cover from pre-set salmon tartare
  • Add molecular gastronomy Pine Sphere
  • Wipe edges and pass plate to serving table

Chefs understand that creating this ?assembly line? makes the process go very quickly, and since my dish was not hot I had the luxury of being able to take 20 minutes to plate it and let it sit at room temp for a few minutes, giving me the time to fine tune presentations.

One very cool thing about this year was that they had a camera set-up in the kitchen and would periodically show the guests the “heat in the kitchen” as we worked to slam the different courses out. They had multiple large screens to display this to the dining room while they enjoyed their food and wine. If I can find a recorded copy I?ll post it here.

2013 Event Schedule

The festivities typically spans two days, but this was a special year celebrating the 5th anniversary of the event and an extra day was added for the occasion.

Friday, November 8th
Celebration Dinner
with 400 attendees – 7 courses pared with superb wines
Reception 6:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 9th
VIP Beer Seminar – 11:30 am
Kristen Kish Cooking Demo – 12:30 pm
Magnum Party with 250 attendees – 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Grand Taste with 2,000 attendees – 2:30 to 6:30 pm
Rock -n- Roll Challenge – 4:00pm

Sunday November 10th
VIP Native American Brunch with Chef Lois Frank – 11:00 am

Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner Menu 2013

Click on the photos below for a larger image

Blackberry Marinated Elk Tenderloin, Chanterelle Mushroom Bisque
Fried Shallots, Blackberry garnish

DuBrul Vineyards ‘Cote Bonneville’ Rose of Cabernet Franc
‘Le Deux’ Freres Betz Family & Tulalip Resort Fifth Anniversary Collaboration Red, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah

– Chef Gerry Schultz


Caramelized Diver Scallop
Hazelnut Butter, Sweet Corn Puree, Mango Puree, Green Apple Butter, Asiago Cheese Twill

Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma, California
– Chef Brent Clarkson


The Three Sisters
Sweet Corn Bisque, Sugar Pumpkin Bisque, Savory Fried Snow Peas

José Dhondt Champagne, France
– Chef John Jadamec


Timbale of Dungeness Crab Salad
Corn Relish, Asiago Cheese, Tarragon, Golden Pea Shoots, Baby Arugula, Red Endive, Roasted Squash, Spiral of Yucca, Asiago Dressing

Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany
– Chef John Ponticelli


Huckleberry Sockeye Lox Tartar with Pine Sphere and Huckleberry Coulis

Domaine Serene “Jerusalem Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon
– Chef David Buchanan


Blackberry-Cranberry Granita with Iced Orange Reduction

Brasserie Dubuisson Pêche Mel? Scaldis, Belgium
– Chef John Jadamec


Petitas-Chile Lamb With Prickly Pear Demi
Cedar Blue Corn Tamale With Cotija, Bacon And White Sage Sauce, Azafran Micro Greens Butternut Warm Salad With Orange Reduction

Betz Family Winery “Pére de Famille” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington
– Chef Perry Mascitti


Coffee Custard
Crushed Blackberries, Toasted Holmquist Hazelnuts, Honey-Chocolate Tuile

Charles Krug ?Lot XIII? Zinfandel Port, Napa, California
– Chef Nikol Nakamura



About the Wines:

Course – Reception

Betz Family Winery & Tulalip Resort 5th Anniversary Red
State or Country of Origin – Washington
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Yakima Valley
Varietals – Cabernet & Syrah

Since its first vintage in 1997, Betz Family Winery has had a single-minded goal of crafting compelling wines with individual character that are approachable and age-worthy, and which showcase Washington as a distinguished wine region of the world.

By carving out specific vineyard blocks and being meticulous in the vineyard and cellar they are able to achieve the quality they aspire to, the result being highly-acclaimed wines that compete on the world stage.

Today, Betz Family Winery is headed by two families, committed to be true to their heritage, their family members and true to what Betz embodies: wines of dimension and pleasure that allow the character of Washington to shine through. This wine is a custom wine, and the first time Betz Family has ever partnered with a property to make a wine.

Tasting Notes – a classic wine crafted by Bob Betz, smoke, blackcurrant, blackberry, and a nice spice hint to this wine. The Syrah really makes this wine smooth on the finish and velvety on the palate.

Course – Reception

Winery – Dubrul Family Vineyards Cote Bonneville Rose
State or Country of Origin – Washington
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Yakima Valley
Varietals – Cabernet Franc

Hugh and Kathy Shiels planted the steep rocky south-facing slopes of the DuBrul Vineyard in 1992. They grow six varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling.

Hugh and Kathy Shiels founded Côte Bonneville in 2001 to create wines that best express their spectacular site each vintage year. By combining traditional winemaking techniques with cutting edge science, we craft estate-grown DuBrul Vineyard grapes into world class wines.

Tasting Notes – Offers up expressive notes of cherry blossom, spice box, cassis, and rhubarb. Medium to full-bodied and dry on the palate

Course – Amuse Caramelized Diver Scallop

Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay
State or Country of Origin – California
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Sonoma
Varietals – Chardonnay

Industrialist James D. Zellerbach acquired the 200 acre Hanzell estate on the Mayacamas slopes above the town of Sonoma in 1948, and in 1952 he planted 2 acres of Pinot Noir and 4 acres of Chardonnay on the site. The Ambassador’s ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Zellerbachs created the first vintage in 1957 and named their winery Hanzell, a contraction of Mrs. Hana Zellerbach’s name.

Zellerbach hired Ralph Bradford Webb in 1956 to be his winemaker and Webb would be integral to the winemaking for the first two decades of Hanzell. Webb introduced four significant advances in enology that would subsequently be adopted by many other wineries, predicating consistency and quality for the entire industry -temperature-controlled fermentation, the use of French Oak barrels, the practice of “blanketing” young wines in tank with inert gas and the practice of induced malolactic fermentation.

Tasting Notes – Brilliant aromas of lemon oil, nectarine, lime zest, chamomile and wet stone combine with our signature floral scent reminiscent of honeysuckle and jasmine. Green apple, pear and nectarine expand out over the rich, viscous mid-­palate. The acidity comes forward as it carries the flavors on to a long, lemony finish.

Course – Salad

Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling, Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett,Germany
State or Country of Origin – Germany
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Varietals – Riesling

For centuries the Prüm family has called the village of Wehlen home. The 33.5 acre estate consists of nearly 70% ungrafted vines. Holdings are in the best parts of the top Middle-Mosel sites: Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Bernkasteler Lay, Bernkasteler Badstube, and Bernkasteler Bratenhöfchen. Average annual production is 13,000 cases. The harvest at J.J. Prüm is always extremely late, and the wines are very long-lived.

Tasting Notes – A racy style, with flinty notes to the fresh-cut apple and crunchy peach flavors, matched to a slightly viscous salinity. Lemon zest lingers on the well-structured finish, revealing hints of passion fruit.”

Course – Soup

Jose’ Dhondt Champagne
State or Country of Origin – France
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Champagne
Varietals – Chardonnay

Descended from generations of vignerons living in and around in the village of Oger, José Dhondt bottled his own first cuvée in1974. His Blanc de Blancs is aristocratic, with a fresh style that is infused with a dollop of fresh cream. He still uses a traditional wooden press, aiming to emphasize grilled bread notes, weight and structure. The Chardonnay fruit demonstrates complexity on a lingering finish. A lovely wine with extensive length and depth.

Tasting Notes – The NV Brut Blanc de Blancs flows with the essence of lemon, white flowers, almonds and pears. It is a bright, focused wine backed up with considerable plushness and generosity

Course – Sockeye Huckleberry Lox Tartare

Domaine Serene ‘Jerusalem’ VIneyard
State or Country of Origin – Oregon
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Eola-Amity Hills
Varietals – Pinot Noir

Ken and Grace Evenstad founded Domaine Serene Vineyards and Winery in 1989 when they purchased 42 acres of just-logged land in the Dundee Hills of Oregon to plant, grow and produce ultra-premium Pinot Noir. They have been involved in every aspect of growing, producing and marketing Domaine Serene wines. Ken and Grace own 462 acres of land in Yamhill County in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, 150 acres of land is planted to vine. In addition to Pinot Noir, which is about 95% of the wine produced, they also make a little Chardonnay and Syrah. Their wines have won many accolades and awards, including over 80 wines scoring 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator

Tasting Notes – Jerusalem Hill is their lowest elevation vineyard and their only Estate located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The vineyard is planted to Dijon, Pommard and Wädenswil clones of Pinot Noir on sedimentary soils in the Woodburn series . Pinot Noir made from the Jerusalem Hill vineyard has aromas that are rich with dark fruits, dried cherries, wild game and spice. In the mouth, the wine is powerful and brawny, mouth coating on the mid-palate and has lingering tannins on the finish.

Course – Intermezzo

Brasserie Dubuisson Peche Mel Scaldis
State or Country of Origin – Belgium
Area – Leuze-Pipaix Eola-Amity Hills
Style – Fruit/Vegetable Beer

Dubuisson been brewing continuously since 1769—before Belgium was a country and longer than the Trappist breweries. Dubuisson is a shining example of the civic brewer and proud protector of the tradition. Both Peche Mel and Scaldis earned Gold medals in World Beer Championships this past year. Prestige has maintained perfect 100s on RateBeer.

Dubuisson is in the hamlet of Pipaix, just outside Tournai and in the heart of French-speaking Wallonia. The province where Scaldis is brewed is called Hainaut. The word means “land of groves” and indeed it is the richest agricultural province in Belgium.

A generic form of flavored beer, some breweries actually use real fruit or veggies, though most use an extract, syrup or processed flavor to give the effect of a particular fruit or vegetable. Usually ales, but with not much ale character to them and commonly unbalanced. Malt flavor is typically hidden with a low hop bitterness to allow the fruit or vegetable to dominate.

Course – Lamb w/ Prickly Pear Demi

Betz Family Winery ‘Pere de Famille’
State or Country of Origin – Washington
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Columbia Valley
Varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot

Since its first vintange in 1997, Betz Family Winery has had a single-minded goal of crafting compelling wines with individual character that are approachable and age-worthy, and wich showcase Washington as a distinguished wine region of the world.

By carving out specific vineyard blocks and being meticulous in the vineyard and cellar they are able to achieve the quality they aspire to, the result being highly-acclaimed wines that compete on the world stage. Today, Betz Family Winery is headed by two families, committed to be true to their heritage, their family members and true to what Betz embodies: wines of dimension and pleasure that allow the character of Washington to shine through.

Tasting Notes – A densely saturated vibrant black/red color leads to a nose of pure black currants, at once inky yet penetrating. Studded with notes of dried thyme, anise and pipe tobacco, the aroma emerges as pure Cabernet. The entry is plump, supple and refined, enriched by blending with small amounts of Petite Verdot and Merlot.

Course – Dessert

Charles Krug Lot XIII Zinfandel Port, Napa California
State or Country of Origin – California
AVA (American Viticultural Area) – Napa Valley
Varietals – Zinfandel

The Charles Krug Winery was established in 1861 as the first winery in the Napa Valley by Prussian-born visionary and revolutionary Charles Krug. Today the winery focuses on handcrafted Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties grown within with Napa Valley appellations and sub-appellations. The winery remains under the stewardship of the Peter Mondavi Sr Family, who purchased the historic winery in 1943. Peter Mondavi Sr remains at the helm of the winery, with day-to-day operations handled by his two sons Marc and Peter Jr.

Tasting Notes – Crafted in the spirit of the Solera style, fifteen vintages create a seductive history of our Port in one glass. A savory composition of berry preserves, toffee, and spicy oak aromatics, this elegant and weighty Port lingers on the palate, slowly drifting to a chewy, yet supple finish.

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Street Food Extravaganza at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Carla_Hall.jpg Richard_Blais.jpg Susan_Feniger.jpg


The Street Food Extravaganza event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions 2013 was an awesome adventure. The foods, plates and utensils all featured sustainable products. Lots of well known chefs were there, including many from Top Chef. And although I tend to have a low opinion of “groupies”, celebrity stalkers, and celebrity magazines, I must say that I was a bit in awe of some of the chefs here. Carla Hall was the MC (she does such a great job! She also was a host at Taste of Tulalip 2011). She interviewed various chefs and maintained an interesting & entertaining dialogue throughout the evening.

All of the food was Fabulous, and even though I had a few favorites the caliber of these street food creations was such that I would cheerfully return for seconds on any of the dishes served. The chefs included: Hawaii’s Sam Choy, Maine’s Michele Ragussis, San Francisco’s Emily Luchetti and John Fink, L.A.’s Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Chicago’s Art Smith, Atlanta’s Richard Blais, Earthbound Farm’s Sarah LaCasse and Monterey’s James Waller. Although I took pics of everyone’s food, some of them didn’t turn out so the missing images are due to Murphy’s Law and not due to lack of interest in the chef’s food.

Sam Choy
Char Siu Pork with Firecracker Fried Rice

Char_Siu_Pork_by_Sam_Choy.jpgThis dish had a great bouquet of flavors and despite the “firecracker” name it wasn’t too spicy. The Firecracker Rice ingredients included: corn, peas, carrot, brown rice (I think), cilantro, red onion, black sesame seeds, and rose petal as garnishes. The pork was tender and delicious. According to wikipedia: “”Char siu” literally means “fork burn/roast” (char being fork (both noun and verb) and siu being burn/roast) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire”. It was one of my favorites at the event.
Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Michele Ragussis

Arancini_by_Michele_Ragussis.jpgArancini is a Sicilian fried rice ball usually flavored with a tomato-based meat sauce and mozzarella. Michele’s upscale version uses arborio rice, beef, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, Parmesan, and parsley. She fried it golden brown then finished it a nappe of Tomato and Béchamel sauces. It looked large and filling, but biting into it revealed a delicious, savory morsel with a lighter texture than I had assumed…very nice! I had seconds and contemplated thirds.

Chef Michele struck me as a “no none sense” chef…”Please enjoy the food…f__k you very much if you don’t like it!” Chefs like this know they create great food and don’t really care too much about the media or public scrutiny. They cook with passion, prepare great food, and don’t get their feelings hurt (too badly) if you don’t care for their preparation. They are passionate, honest, have just enough ego to excel but not so much as to become arrogant. I don’t really know chef Michele but this is the impression she gave me, and as chef I like and appreciate these traits.
The Pearl Seafood Restaurant & Raw Bar
Rockland, Maine

Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger
Korean Mung Bean Pancakes with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kimchee

Korean_Mung_Bean_Pancakes_w_Shiitake_Mushrooms_and_Kimchee_by_Susan_Feniger.jpgSusan Feniger is always smiling, and its not one of those fake politician/car salesman smiles, but a genuine smile from the soul. Her food is unpretentious and flavorful. The mung bean pancake was very light and tender, the kimchee spicy (as it should be!), and the shiitakes added that touch of umami. Flavorful and a great vegetarian option as well.

My lovely wife is Korean so I had to ask for a “side” of kimchee when they served me this dish!
Susan Feniger’s STREET
Los Angeles, CA

Richard Blais
Crispy Clam Roll with Geoduck Sashimi and Uni Tartar Sauce

Crispy_Clam_Roll_w_Geoduck_Sashimi_by_Richard_Blais.jpgI like Chef Blais. He plays on the edge and isn’t afraid to fail a number of times if it garners him a culinary win in the end. Trial and error…a scientist’s approach. He pushes the limit but has an innate understanding of flavor combinations so his “failures” are probably more along the lines of “good” but not “great”. And true to his culinary style of accentuating flavor while down playing presentation, his dish looked like it had simply “fallen from the sky” and landed neatly on the plate…looks plain but tastes great!

His dish was my favorite at the event. The outside of the bread was cooked golden brown in butter like a grilled cheese sandwich and had a fabulous buttery crunch, the geoduck nicely shaved, the uni tartar added a wonderful richness, and the fried clam (geoduck?) added additional crunch.
Flip Burger Boutique, HD1, The Spence
Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA

Mary Sue Milliken and Mike Minor
Churro Tots with Chocolate and Caramel

Churro_Tots_by_Mary_Sue_Milliken.jpgI loved this! I think I went back three times and would have continued to return for more if I had had room to stuff more of these puppies in! Warm and crunchy on the outside, tender and soooo moist on the inside. Coupled with chocolate and caramel…ahhhhh.
Border Grill Restaurants and Truck
Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles & Santa Monica, CA


Art Smith
Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp_&_Grits_by_Art_Smith.jpgThe shrimp were nice with a mildly spicy sauce. But I really liked the grits. I spoke with the sous chef about hot holding the grits for service because I am thinking of adding them to a menu item which one of my staff (Jeff Johnson) is bringing forward. He explained that grits are easy to hot hold during service and simply finish during plate-up with stock and whatever final touches you want to add.
Table Fifty-Two, Art & Soul, LYFE Kitchen, Southern Art & Bourbon Bar
Chicago, IL; Washington, D.C.

John Fink
Scallop and Pork Belly Taco with Cilantro Mango Slaw

Scallop_and_Pork_Belly_Taco_by_John_Fink.jpgBeautiful tempura Weathervane scallops! And who can go wrong with pork belly?! The slaw added a nice refreshing “lightness” to cut through the salty protein of the pork belly and scallop. I really enjoyed this dish as well, it was in my top 3-4 favorites.
The Whole Beast
San Francisco, CA

Omissions (sorry)!!

Emily Luchetti, Sarah LaCasse and James Waller also presented their creations at this event, but my pictures failed and all I can remember is that Sarah LaCasse had a wonderful lightly smoked Sturgeon. If anyone has their dishes please leave a comment.


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Taste of Tulalip 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dining RoomIf you live in the Pacific Northwest then you have probably heard of the four diamond Tulalip Resort Casino. This year was the 4th year of the now regionally acclaimed Taste of Tulalip, a two day food and wine experience which surpasses many such events on the West Coast. Each year we try to do something just a little bit “bigger or better” than the year before. Friday November 9th featured the 7-course Celebration Dinner for 400 people (tickets sold out about 2 months before the event, so plan ahead for next year!). And Saturday November 10th was the Grand Taste event, featuring 135 wineries and a plethora of tasty bites, all prepared by the talented Tulalip chefs.

In addition to these two main events, there were numerous additional special features which made this year’s Taste of Tulalip one of the Pacific Northwest’s must attend events. Special features included:

  • a cooking demo by celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson, 3-Time James Beard Award Winner & TV personality
  • Craft Beer Garden in the Oasis Pool room
  • Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco was the celebrity emcee and conducted a wine seminar
  • Private Magnum Party featuring some highly sought after & elite wines
  • 135 wineries from the West Coast, France and Italy
  • Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge Cook-off with Chefs Gerry Schultz, Brent Clarkson, Robin Leventhal from Top Chef season 6
  • Guest judges for the Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge Cook-off included:
    • Chef Marcus Samuelesson
    • Chef Wayne Johnson
    • “Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco
    • Mauny Kaseburg

Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner – Go Big or Go Home!

Taste of Tulalip Plate 2012The Celebration Dinner was a 7-course food & wine pairing with each of the seven Tulalip chefs (yes, Tulalip employs seven professional chefs, each to oversee a specific venue at Tulalip, with Executive Chef Perry Mascitti overseeing them all) preparing one of the courses and a team of about 45 kitchen staff helping to plate each course, and 30+ waitstaff to deliver plates.

As chefs we are by necessity creative thinkers. We are constantly in situations which require us to think outside of the box. For us there are no problems, there are only challenges for which we need to provide a solution. Every chef has victory stories which are the result of a night from hell. A very few of my challenges have included: “Two of the four ovens are down?! Run the menu with plan B.” “The power is out but the gas still works…we cook by candlelight tonight!” “13 banquet functions within 30 minutes… WTF!? OK, I’ll make it happen.” “Feed 30,000 people lunch? We’ll get the plan in place.”

Our job as chefs constantly has us overcoming obstacles in order to produce something incredible for our guests. To be honest, when other service providers (such as my cell phone company) tell me that they “can’t” help me, it pisses the hell out of me. It means that they are too stupid, or too lazy, to offer proper customer service. They don’t know customer service like we do.

Each of the Tulalip chefs had their own special problem to tackle this year. Chef JP (John Pontichelli) had the unfortunate task of pairing a salad course with a red wine! Good luck buddy! His solution was a wonderful pairing (see below).

Banquet Chef Gerry Schultz’s challenge was to produce fine dining quality plates throughout a seven course dinner for 400 expecting guests with only 15 minutes to plate each course. He did this by setting up five serving lines and having around 45 kitchen staff cooking and plating. He drew upon staff from his own crew, from the various resort restaurants, and from the stewarding department. Executive Chef Perry Mascitti also arranged for a number of volunteer culinary students from the Cordon Bleu culinary school to assist.

Chef Gerry was an organizational sage! He had to instruct 40 people how to plate 7 courses they had never seen before, and each course had to be precisely presented & completed in about 15 minutes! He had each chef photograph their dish a month earlier and provide a plating diagram so each of the five plating lines would know how to execute each dish. He had diagrams, photos, and great communication so that nothing was left to chance. All his preparation left minimal chance for that bastard “Murphy’s Law” to show up (I hate that guy!).

Kitchen Plate-up Kitchen Plate-up_2


My challenge was to prepare 400 hundred portions of perfectly cooked king salmon using a new method in which the salmon is semi-poached from the bottom up leaving the top eighth of an inch raw. In the Pacific Northwest we like our salmon MR to M, and the idea behind this dish was to put the MR on top of the salmon rather than in the middle. The dish was called “naked salmon” and it appears like sushi on the top, but is cooked on the bottom three quarters. This method gives it a stunning presentation with the glistening red-orange raw flesh on top, and it retains the wonderful natural flavor of the salmon.

I mentally labored over the firing time as if it were my first soufflé. Fire it too late and the entire event goes on hold while everyone waits for my dish to be ready, making for an awkward stall in the flow of service. Fire it too early and the salmon dries out and turns to dog food, ruining the reputation of the entire event. (Damn it! We should have eaten at McDonald’s!).

To pull this off, I used multiple improvised poaching stations and had all my salmon staged in 2” perforated hotel pans. One Tilt Skillet held 4 pans, four 6” hotel pans set over a flat-top griddle was my second station. And finally, another 6” hotel set over a broiler created my last station. All were set at about 190°. This allowed me to cook 200 of the needed 400 portions, then quickly rotate and get the second batch of 200 fired, timing it so it was done as my course was being plated.

Of course, I had done a dry run with 8 portions… but not with 200 fired at a once! Cooking time would certainly take longer. In the end, I fired the first half of my salmon during the plating of the second course (I was the fourth course). I stored it in a hot box set at 135° for 20 minutes and pulled the second batch of salmon as we started the plate-up for my course. Whew!!! Even though I’m a heathen I thank God for help on this one! Perfectly cooked salmon is Awesome! Overcooked salmon is dog shit.

Another challenging course was the Wagu Filet Mignon Pair. Chef Perry wanted it served on a small metal plate so that it was still sizzling when it hit the table. These little plates were at 750°! As this course was served you could hear 400 sizzling steaks, and the aroma of the wagu coupled with the wine made your head spin with pleasure.

The evening involved hours of preparation followed by a 3 hour adrenaline rush during plating. At the end… a great sense of relief and satisfaction of not only completing the challenge, but having done so with excellence. Thank-you’s and pats on the back all around, then I slammed an Upside-down Old Fashioned (made w/ Knob Creek Bourbon) and a double Absolute Cran to start the wind-down.

Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner Menu 2012

Holiday Lobster Wedding – Chef Gerry Schultz
Lobster Terrine, Chanterelle Mushrooms Peppadew Peppers, Vanilla Shallot Foam, and Micro Greens
Pumpkin Lobster Bake, Pear Chestnut Relish
Italy, Vignalta Pinot Bianco ‘Agno Casto’

Holiday Lobster Wedding by Chef Schultz jpg


Asian Soup Duet – Chef Brent Clarkson
Lime, Galangal, Daikon, Coconut, Tarragon, Thai Basil, Dungeness Crab, Miso, and Gyoza Ravioli Stuffed with Maitake, Porcini & Shitake Medley
Sesame Twill
France, Famille Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Vielles Vin’ Blanc

Asian Soup Duet by Chef Clarkson jpg


Micro Green Salad With Duo Of Duck – Chef JP John Pontichelli
Smoked Duck Sausage- Stuffed Honey Crisp Apple Topped with Quail Egg
Pancetta-Wrapped Duck Sausage
Arugula Micro Beet Greens with Lavender-Balsamic Mist
Oregon, Penner-Ash Pinot Noir ‘Pas de Nom’, Willamette Valley

Duo of Duck Micro Green Salad by Chef JP jpg


Salmon Two Ways – Chef David Buchanan
Orange-Tarragon Cured Sockeye with Lemon Oil
“Naked” King Salmon With Bellavitano Gold Pesto
Washington State, Woodinville Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc

Salmon Two Ways by Chef Buchanan jpg


Intermezzo – Chef John Jadamec
Hot and Cold Item, Fire and Ice if You Will, On One Plate
Grilled Fresh Pineapple with Touch of Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper & Sugar
Green Apple Mint Swirl Sorbet

Fire and Ice Intermezzo by Chef Jademec jpg


Snake River Farms Wagu Filet Mignon Pair – Chef Perry Mascitti
Cave Bleu Huckleberry Demi, Gremolata Gele’e, Chive-Red Peppercorn Aroma Drop
California, ZD Wines, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Wagu Filet Mignon Pair by Chef Mascitti jpg


The S’more – Chef Nikol Nakamura
Flourless Chocolate Cake, Honey-Vanilla Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Sticks
Liquid Chocolate

The S'more by Chef Nakamura jpg


Parting Gift – Chef Nikol Nakamura
Milk Chocolate Covered Holmquist Hazelnuts
Washington State, Eroica Riesling Ice Wine ‘Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Ernst Loosen’, Columbia Valley
Sorry!! No picture.


Rock-n-Roll Challenge Cook-off

This is a fun mystery box style challenge which paired two teams of chefs against each other. When they opened the mystery box they found Live Maine Lobsters! They had 10 minutes to create a menu, then 30 minutes to compose a dish for the judges, followed by samples for the crowd.

Team Bun Jovi consisted of chefs Gerry Schultz (Tulalip’s reigning Rock-n-Roll Challenge champion), Robin Leventhal from Top Chef season 6, and Jeff Euteneier from Seattle’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College. Team Appetite for Destruction included chefs Brent Clarkson from Tulalip Resort’s Cedars Café,Brian McCracken and Dana Tough, both from the restaurant group of Sput, Tavern Law, and The Coterie Room.

Team Bun Jovi took the prize, giving Chef Gerry his third victory. Although, I heard that the judges were hard-pressed to choose a winner and that the count was close. The winning dish was a Saffron cous cous with lemongrass, herb and butter Main lobster Medallions, Micro green and Apple Salad, with Hazelnut vinaigrette & Holmquist Hazelnuts.

Other articles and blogs about the 2012 Taste of Tulalip:

Daily Blender
Within 4 Hour Reach
My Wine Pal
VanCouver Scape – Celebration Dinner
VanCouver Scape – Grand Taste
Washington Tasting Room

Posts from Previous Years

Taste of Tulalip 2011
Taste of Tulalip 2010


Posted In:Food and Wine  /  Taste of Tulalip

Taste of Tulalip Gala Dinner 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Third Annual Taste of Tulalip is Another Success

Taste of Tulalip Charger 2011 jpgThis year Tulalip Resort Casino held their third annual Taste of Tulalip Food & Wine Event. It was a 2 day food and wine experience, kicking off with Friday’s Taste of Tulalip Gala Dinner, hosted by “Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbracco. Saturday followed with the Grand Tasting featuring the Tulalip Chef’s exquisite cuisine samples and 65 wineries from Washington, California, and Italy. This post is about Friday’s Gala Dinner.

The Taste of Tulalip Gala Dinner is a seven course food & wine pairing featuring fantastic food and exquisite wines. According to F&B Manager Lisa Severn, Tulalip’s philosophy regarding culinary events is “Do it right or go home.” The menu for this year’s dinner again shows that the Tulalip Chefs and Sommelier Tom Thompson know how to do it right. There were 400 seats available and the event sold out several weeks in advance, a testament to the growing popularity of the event.

In The Kitchen for Taste of Tulalip

Taste of Tulalip 2011 Dining Room jpgFor the Chefs, the challenge was, ”How do you serve 7 courses of restaurant quality food to 400 people at once?” Each course had to be plated and served to order. For a typical plated banquet function for a large group, there are usually only 3-4 courses (soup, salad, entrée, dessert) with only the soup and entrée courses plated to order. And the entrée course is usually pre-plated 5-15 minutes ahead of the serving time and stored with covers in a hot box, ready to be served en mass to large parties. But we wanted the food served from the oven to the guest with no holding time. So we set-up six plating lines with 6 people on each line so we could mass produce 400 plates directly into the waiting hands of the service staff.

We had prepped, planed, organized, and were now ready to execute service. Towels in hand, 7 professional chefs, 36+ support staff to help plate, additional crew to man the ovens, and an army of servers, we were ready to dance. Now we impatiently wait for the word “Go!” wondering if you missed anything.

The Waiting Game jpg

Your mind is racing, going over the plate-up for the nth time, trying to discover the one thing you missed, the one possible obstacle which you didn’t make a “plan B” for. Your crew looks at you sideways as you explain again what your expectations are.

The first course is supposed to be served at 7:35 pm, but, of course, things run late, 15 minutes late. Now you’re recalculating your firing times and communicating it with your staff. The kitchen is set to go with over 45 staff crammed into it. I can’t simply walk over to my oven crew, it’s too crowded. So I walk around the back hallways 3 or 4 times to communicate new instructions to my staff. The other chefs are doing the same.

Then, its go time! Everything is in high gear now, commands are short and direct. “Get that food moving!” “That’s too much sauce, use less!” “Line 2, speed up!” “Clean up those plate edges!” “More garnish on Line 2!” “Sauce on 4!” “Lamb on Line 3!” “Why the f___ are you giving me rare lamb racks, I want medium-rare. Fix it!” “Only 20 more for this course” “Done! Stop! Clean-up and prepare for the next course. Good job everyone!”

Taste of Tulalip Gala Dinnier 2011 Plate-up jpg

Each course only took about 15 minutes to serve. For each course, all six lines and 40+ kitchen staff worked to produce that one course; then clean, reorganize, and do it again until after 3 hours of riding an adrenaline wave, we slammed through dessert. Our work was successfully completed, we could finally take a deep breath, relax… and suddenly realize… ” holy hell am I tired!”

Taste of Tulalip Gala Dinner Menu 2011


Smoked Kurobuta Pork Belly, Maple Vanilla Gastrique
Parsnip Puree, Fois Gras, Bacon Jam, Halloumi Cheese wrapped in Jamon Iberico Prosciutto
Chef Brent Clarkson
Long Shadow’s “Poets Leap” Riesling Columbia Valley, WA 2010

Smoked Kurobuta Pork Belly jpg


Thai Curry Kabocha Squash Bisque
Tempura Vegetables with Five-spiced Cherry Reduction

Chef Dean Shinagauwa
Va Piano Vinyards “Bruno’s White II” Sauvingnon Blanc Columbia Valley, WA

Kobacha Squash Soup jpg


Southwest Duck Breast with Hydro Bibb
Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Gruyere, Pine Nuts, Pecorino Crisp
Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Chef John Ponticelli
Reynvaan Vineyards “The Contender” Syrah Walla Walla, WA 2008

Southwest Duck with Hydro Bibb jpg


Grilled Wild King Salmon with seared Apple, Pear, Fennel Confit and Chevre
over savory Brioche-Apple Bread Pudding
Cinnamon and Autumn-Spiced Lamb Chop with Huckleberry Demi

Chef David Buchanan
Sparkman Cellars “L’ Autre” Pinot Noir Eola-Amilty Hills, OR 2009
Corliss Estates “Cabernet Sauvignon” Columbia Valley, WA 2006

Salmon Lamb jpg


Ruby Pink Grapefruit Segments
Blood Orange Reduction Pepette
Chef John Jadamec

Intermezzo jpg


A Study in Beef
Kobe New York Strip Loin in Chanterelle Cream
Kobe Prime Rib in Baby Boy Blue Sauce
Kobe Tenderloin in Huckleberry Demi Glace
Smoked Yukon Mash with Sage, Seasonal Ratatouille
Chefs Gerry Schultz & John Jadamec
21 Gram’s “Red Blend” Columbia Valley, WA 2007

Trio of Kobe Beef jpg


Sweet Ending
Warm Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding Cake
Peanut Tuile, Frozen Banana Nougat, Butterscotch Sauce
Chef Nikol Nakamura
Charles Drug Lot XIV Zinfandel Port Napa, CA

Chocolate Pudding Cake jpg


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American Academy of Chefs Dinner at Tulalip Resort Casino

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

American Academy of Chefs Dinner at Tulalip Resort

AAC at Tulalip Resort 2011 jpgI recently had the opportunity to see Chef Gerry Schultz in action producing a 7 course menu for the American Academy of Chefs (ACC) Black Tie Dinner at the Tulalip Resort Casino. The menu was created in collaboration with Executive Chef Perry Mascitti and Chef John Poticelli and it was served to a group of 80 attendees including a number of certified Master Chefs.


ACC Etched Wood Menu jpgThe honor society of ACF, the American Academy of Chefs (AAC) represents the highest standards of professionalism in the organization, society and industry. The AAC is an ambassador of culinary education and programs. The menu for each setting was etched in wood planks.


Meeting of Two Loins Prep jpgIn the banquet kitchen, Chef Gerry and crew prepared the meal to be plated and served as close to a la minute as possible.

The Meeting of Two Loins (Ahi Tuna & Elk Tenderloin wrapped in Wild Boar Bacon) coming out of the oven! This is a yin and yang design created by Chef John Ponticelli.


Plate-up was executed on a two-sided line making it possible to plate each course for 80 people in about 12 minutes.
ACC Plate-up jpg



Meeting of Two Loins jpg

The Meeting of Two Loins
Ahi Tuna & Elk Tenderloin wrapped in Wild Boar Bacon, Wasabi Foam, Blueberry Port Wine Glaze
Castle Rock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Chef Gerry said, “I loved the Meeting of Two Loins, which is an idea that Chef John Ponticelli came up with. I changed it a bit by using it as an appetizer and using elk tenderloin instead of beef tenderloin. This is an ingenious creation, taking a fish and meat which are both best when eaten under done and wrapping them in bacon like a true filet mignon. A truly great idea which I feel we were able represent quite well. Thank you Chef Ponticelli.”


Mushroom Soups In 3D jpg


Wild Mushroom Soup in 3D
– Chanterelle Mushroom Chowder
– Black Trumpet Hot & Sour Soup
– Lobster Mushroom Bisque

Loved this presentation! Each demitasse cup contained a different soup and each soup was distinctly different in flavor and texture. The Chanterelle Mushroom Chowder was styled after a true chowder… chunky with bacon and potatoes. And the Lobster Mushroom Bisque finished the course with a sultry, satiny mouth-feel.

Chef Gerry said, ” My favorite dishes were of course the ones which were my own inspiration. I put a lot of heart into the three wild mushrooms soups. I wanted the guest to go on a tour through three traditional soups (chowder, sweet & sour, bisque) which were totally different in texture and flavor, but undoubtedly the wild mushroom flavors came through. Hence the name “Wild Mushroom Soup in 3D”.


Tuscana Chill Salad jpg

Toscana Chill Salad

Shaved Jicama, Baby Greens, Hot Coppa, Tartufotto Ham, Carpaccio de Truffle d’ete, Pecorino Crisp, Reggiano Vinaigrette


Seafood Gathering (not shown)

Apple Smoked Salmon Corn Dogs with Chipotle Aioli Dungeness Crab & Alaskan Spot Prawn Grill Cheese with Dill Havarti & Capers
Mercer 2010 Gone Fishin’ Riesling

Somehow I missed a photo of this dish!


Fruit Bridge over Bubbled Water jpg

Fruit Bridge over Bubble Water

Asian Pear, Tangerine, Mint, Uzu Ginger Water
This was a really cool presentation! Unfortunately you can’t see the full effect because by the time I took this photo the snowball nest of shaved ice had melted.


Prime Filet of Beef Napoleon

Filet of Beef Napoleon jpg

Smoked Foie Gras, Oxtail Marrow, Barley Risotto Ragu Roasted Fennel, Pumpkin & Hazelnut Filled Leek
Argento Malbec

Nothing was held back on this entree! Foie Gras, marrow, risotto, stuffed leeks! I can die now and be a happy man… oh wait, I didn’t actually get the chance to try this dish. Maybe with a few shots of Basil Hayden Bourbon I can bribe Gerry to make it for me.

This is what Chef Gerry told me about this dish, “For us the hardest dish was the entrée which I was also very proud of as well. The napoleon required the roasting of beef bones and removing the marrow for the top of the napoleon. Then the Prime tenderloin was cut into even round tubes and into medallions. The fois gras was cut and then lightly grilled and smoked. After that we built the napoleons and they turned out looking very good.”

“The Oxtail barley risotto was also a challenge. We began by roasting the oxtail with some herbs, wine and seasonings, removing the meat. Then we added the oxtail bones to fresh beef stock and reduced it down to almost demi glace. This was the broth used to make the black and white barley risotto. The two were made separately to maintain their colors. To the risotto we then added Oktoberfest beer, herbs, onions and peppers.”

“The leeks required some extra special attention. First we roasted fennel and sugar pumpkins to make the filling. Then the leeks were cut into 3” sections and braised with herbs, wine and spices . Once cooled they were hollowed out like a canoe and the filling and Holmquist hazelnuts were added. The three came together on the plate to make a wonderful comforting fall inspired entree.”


Sweet Endings (not shown!)

White Chocolate Arborio Rice Pudding Confit of Apple, Saffron Reduction & Honeycomb Confection

The night ended with a standing ovation which made Gerry smile and say, “All in all this was a truly challenging and rewarding event for me as a chef. It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to prepare a meal for the chefs black tie event. We gave it our Tulalip best and I feel they were very pleased. It was a great night.”


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Taste Of Tulalip 2010

Crab Sushi Taste of Tulalip 2010Course 1: Dungeness and Alaskan Crab Sushi with Wild Rice, sesame lavash, avocado wasabi foam
– Chefs Gerry Schultz & John Jadamec

Tulalip Resort Casino recently held their second annual Taste of Tulalip event featuring a two day gastronomic and wine experience. In 2009 the Taste of Tulalip was awarded the Washington Wine Commissions “Best Wine Event” featuring Washington Wines. This year on Friday November 12th the event kicked off with the Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner, featuring a six-course plated culinary adventure orchestrated under the direction of Executive Chef Perry Mascitti, and paired with wines carefully selected by Sommelier Tommy Thompson.

Saturday November 13th continued with the Taste of Tulalip Grand Taste featuring a large variety of gourmet foods prepared by the Tulalip chefs, and more than 60 Washington wineries and 20+ Napa Valley wineries invited to pour.

Quail Salad and Soup Taste of Tulalip 2010Course 2: Chanterelle, Smoked Boar Bacon and Aged Cheddar Soup with Quail Salad of Micro Greens, Mache and Blackberry Vinaigrette– Chefs Gerry Schultz & John Ponticelli

Chef Perry oversaw his team of professional chefs execute the Celebration Dinner for 400 guests, serving each of the six courses in about 20 minutes per course. Banquet Chef Gerry Schultz set-up two long serving tables and utilized both sides of each table for plating, thus giving us four serving lines. Each course was designed and orchestrated by a different member of the chef team. For each course, the ingredients were placed in the center of each table, and the crew assembled plates by putting one item on the plate and passing it to the next person who put their item on the plate, and so on.

Plating one of the courses

We were all set with prep and ready to go about an hour early (except for final cooking) so we had time to catch our breath from the long prep time. We stood around, wait… wait… go!!! What followed was a two hour long adrenaline rush. “Where is the mushrooms?! I need mushrooms NOW!” “This one is garbage, re-plate it!” “Sauce! We need more sauce here!” “Not that way! Do it this way.” “Wipe that plate edge!” “Clear and wipe down for the next course!” Six courses times 400 people means 2,400 plates served in about two hours! The Dance (culinary lingo for how cooks move in the kitchen during high-production, high-stress times) was in full swing and everyone was moving in the complicated, controlled chaos which is the Dance. Moving, running, communicating tersely and with intense focus. Nothing else exists except what we are doing right now, and what we need to do next. “What, there’s a huge fire at the empty building next door? Is it going to affect my plate-up? No? Then I don’t care. It’s all about the food now.” That’s how we think during the Dance.

Miso Salmon Taste of Tulalip 2010
Course 3: White and Red Miso Salmon, Miso Rice, Lemon Butter Tamari Mushroom Medley, Inari-Nori Slaw
– Chefs Brent Clarkson & David Buchanan
Pomagranate Gelee Taste of Tulalip 2010
Course 4: Intermezzo – Pomegranate Aspic, orange
– Chef Kurt Hitchman
Duo of Beef Taste of Tulalip 2010
Course 5: Wagyu Beef Short Ribs and Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin, Bleu Cheese Potato, shiitaki, sundried cherries, cabernet demi glace
– Chef Dean Shinagawa


Dessert Taste of Tulalip 2010
Course 6: “A Study In Chocolate” White chocolate cream, milk chocolate cremosa, 55% chocolate ganache filled raspberries, 72% dark chocolate baby fondant cake
– Chef Nikol Nakamura
Taste of Tulalip wines
The wines which were paired with each course
– Sommelier Tommy Thompson


Taste of Tulalip Grand Tasting

On Saturday the Grand Tasting featured over 60 Washington wineries and 20 Napa Valley wineries available for tasting. And the chefs of Tulalip put out a culinary extravaganza of flavors for about 1200 people. Below are some of the dishes which were offered at the event. Click on the images below for a larger image.

Apple-Lacquered-Halibut.jpg Hors.jpg Dungeness crab, avocado, mango timbale with blood orange vinaigrette
Alaskan-Spot-Prawn.jpg Chocolate-Sculpture.jpg Jeff.jpg
Deans-Scallop.jpg Scallop.jpg Pasta.jpg
Dessert1.jpg Spicy-Wonton-with-Seared-Ahi.jpg Dessert2.jpg
Seafood-Platter.jpg Shrimp.jpg Lamb.jpg



Posted In:Food and Wine  /  Taste of Tulalip

Auction of Washington Wines 2010

Auction of Washington Wines held their annual charity event at Ste. Michelle Winery again this year which raises money forSeattle’s Children’s Hospital. I had the opportunity to work at this 3 day occasion which featured food and wine from Washington State. They raised $1.4 million this year! On Thursday, August 19 the first event opened with the Barrel Auction & Picnic with the Winemakers. This event featured many Washington wines, and creative food selections provided by the chefs of Tulalip Resort under Executive Chef Perry Mascitti.

Ste Michelle

Tulalip’s Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill (which I oversee) featured a lightly smoked sockeye salmon with a rub made of five peppercorns, orange peel & anise, and finished with an Apple Glaze for a cooling affect. This was served over a fresh homemade spring roll filled with diacon, bean sprouts, English cucumber, apple, carrot, Thai basil, zucchini, napa cabbage and laced with a sauce made of hoisin & gochujang (a Korean red pepper paste). I had intended to have a 3” chive for a garnish but forgot to load it on the truck.

5 Pepper, Orange Peel, Anise Crusted SalmonFive Pepper, Orange Peel, Anise Crusted Sockeye Salmon wtih Apple Glaze & House Spring Roll

Working in the Blackfish tent we ran into a little problem shortly after opening a 4:00. We had a beautiful $5,500 outdoor Viking grill (I want one for my backyard!), which suddenly stopped working on three quarters of the cooking surface. Last year, the Viking grills worked perfectly, so we were caught off guard when it went down this year. We quickly rolled another grill into the station, and we limped along until that grill came up to temp. It’s always nice to have people lining up for your food, but not when it’s due to faulty equipment. Thankfully the guests were very gracious and engaged in conversation and wine tasting while they waited a few extra minutes for us to get back on track.

I loved hearing from people, “We were told that we had to come try your salmon!” And I saw a number of faces coming back for seconds and even thirds, which is always a nice complement. Knowing the caliber of the Chefs here I know that all of them received similar adulations for their food as well.

We do a lot of off property events each year in order to contribute to various charities as well as to promote the resort. Two years ago when we were doing the food show circuit I heard a lot of comments like, “You guys really do this kind of food in a casino?” But this year at events I’m hearing more and more often, “We’re always glad when we see Tulalip is one of the food providers. You guys always do such a good job.” That puts a big smile right on my face. It makes me proud to work for a company which provides us with all the resources, both in product and labor, which we require to do a fantastic job.

Everything was made by hand for this event.

Prosciutto wrapped Chicken with Pecan Crust
Chef Brent Clarkson of Cedars prepared Pecan Crusted Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto over Raspberry Beurre Blanc accompanied with Micro Greens
Star Anise scented Lamb
Chef Dean Shinagawa of Tulalip Bay prepared Star Anise Braised American Lamb over Macadamia Nut-Cherry Jasmine Rice with Thai Curry Sauce and Crispy Taro-Green Papaya Salad


Tulalip’s banquet Chef Gerry Schultz and Garde Manger Chef John Pontichelli

prepared an assortment of delicious side dishes–

Skewered Caesar Salad
Skewered Caesar Salad – very classy, all the ladies loved this one!
Angel hair Birds Nest
Angel Hair Bird’s Nest with Sesame Dressing
Summer Watermelon CocktailWatermelon Cocktail with Yellow Watermelon Parisian garnish Baby Pear stuffed with Exotic FruitExotic Fruit & Ginger filled Baby Pear
Yellow Gazpacho Cucumber Shot
Yellow Gazpacho Cucumber Shot
Tri-color Potato Baskets
Potato Salad stuffed tri-colored potatoes, featuring Baby Red, Baby Yukon Ggold, and Baby Purple potatoes carved and stuffed


Pastry Chef Nikol Nakamura featured an assortment of desserts–

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes
Goober Bars
Goober Bars
Brownie Cheesecake PopsBrownie Cheesecake Pops Lemon Whoopie Pies
Lemon Whoopie Pies
Each Chef prepared 1000 servings of their dish, plus several of us prepared 500 items for the Gala Dinnerevent a few days later. We had an army of skilled crew who worked a ton of overtime with us this week to pull it off and still keep regular business running. Many thanks to all the crew who worked so hard to make it happen. Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts
Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts

All the above took place at the Barrel Auction & Picnic on Thursday. Then there was the Gala Dinner event a few days later on Saturday. Chef Perry had designed a gorgeous plate called “Two Lambs Dancing in the Moonlight” which featured Lamb Shank wrapped in Filo over smoked Peach Coulis and a Lamb Napolean layered with Safron Potatoes over Pea Puree with Onion Jam and Mint Foam. I brought my camera but we got way too busy trying to serve 500 people from 2 ovens! This made for an extreemly stressful and painful evening. We had several other things go wrong on us just before the time to start plating. In the end we were successful at pulling this off, but it was brutal getting there. Since I didn’t have time to take pictures, here are a few teasers.

Gala Dinner Tent
Gala Dinner Table Gala Dinner Menu
Sugar Snap Peas
Prepped 550 of these beautiful little bastards! We asked two different produce companies if they could do this for us and they both basically said, “Oh, hell no!”
Snap Pea Prep



Comments from before Site Migration

Add a Comment!

BRUCE []    [ Aug 26, 2010 ]


I heard about those pop-tarts, but the wow factor on all of the food is over the top! All the Chef’s did an Outstanding Job.

Regards, From Central Virginia

MAGICOFSPICE    [ Aug 26, 2010 ]

What a wonderful event, and I am so pleased to hear that so much was raised for such an important cause. The food looks amazing 🙂

TANANTHA @ I JUST LOVE MY APRON []    [ Aug 26, 2010 ]

Oh WOW wonderful event for good cause! That’s a lot of $$ they have raised. Kudos! The food looked fantastic and sophisticated. I’m in Seattle too 🙂

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE []    [ Aug 25, 2010 ]

Wonderful dishes! Everything looks just lovely!


Posted In:Food and Wine