‘Respect has been a driving force in my life as a chef. I have great respect for my roots. I am a child of Southern California, and that is where I have spent most of my professional life. I believe to be creative you have to have a strong sense of tradition. I have collected cookery books since the age of 16 and my first restaurant experiences. I wanted to understand the art, and all the stories that lay behind it, big and small. Respect for the people with whom I work. We all share the same family feeling. That is a huge source of satisfaction in our daily work and key to our success. Respect for gastronomy itself. I look on it as a fully-fledged form of expression. It is pure poetry, in wines and dishes. Respect for classic French cooking methods. I learnt these particularly from chef James Boyce when I worked for him in Arizona. Respect for your ingredients. They are at the basis of my ‘artisanal approach to cuisine’. It’s a very personal approach, based on simplicity, aesthetics and balance’.
Everything that comes into our kitchen and goes into our dishes is determined by flavor. We select the finest local products at the peak of their quality. The white corn from Chino Farms in San Diego is one of my favorites! I put it on the menu every summer when it comes into season. I use the corn to make a marvelous velouté. First I caramelize it with shallots, honey and garlic. Then I mix in a touch of cream until it becomes velvety and silky-smooth, and serve it with chanterelles and smoked bacon. And I suggest accompanying it with a full-bodied Napa Valley Chardonnay. Its texture and buttery flavor, with a hint of oak and smokiness, goes well with the braised bacon and mushrooms.