Restaurant: Eighteen One
Number of years in the restaurant business: 23
A fourth-generation chef, began under Ray DiLulo at the Grove Hotel, personal chef to Bill Cosby and Stevie Nicks, appeared on the Food Network's Iron Chef of America as a sous chef to Beau MacMillan. Executive chef and founder of the Cowboy Restaurant and Brewery, the first restaurant in America to win the World Cup Hefeweizen award for food and beer pairings.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Chorizo and egg sandwich with new potatoes.
Throughout your career in Idaho, how has the restaurant scene changed and how have you adapted to those changes over time?
Food in Idaho has moved from the traditional steak and potatoes to a more modern, refined style that embraces those hearty roots, yet seeks to be progressive in menu and recipe construction. I have tried to keep the focus of my menus on the substance of those hearty ingredients and add my own fresh, nouveau interpretation.
What do you look to as inspiration for new recipes?
Family, friends and accidents (in the kitchen).
How do you innovate without excluding diners?
I have had the most success with utilizing traditional components and preparations with a modern, more artistic take on the presentation. Simplicity is key when dealing with tradition. Too much noise on a plate makes the diner uninterested, and an uninterested diner doesn't return very often.
What dish would you like to include on your menu, but worry that it might be too forward-thinking for this market?
Kobe coulotte. It is the cap muscle off a Kobe sirloin, with no gristle or tendons. It is virtually void of natural fats, so cooking it is not for the faint of heart. When done correctly, this is about as clean and unfiltered as red meat comes. The flavor profile is intense and to the point. The subtleness of preparation and the cost of the product are the main reasons this dish probably wouldn't survive in this market.
What won't you eat?
Lima beans. Ever.
What's the one ingredient you can't live without in your kitchen?
What one great meal do you fix only for yourself?
What's the strangest ingredient you've ever put in a dish?
Who is the most famous person you've cooked for?
Personal chef to Stevie Nicks.
Where do you like to eat in town?
Brick 29 Bistro in Nampa and Epi's in Meridian.
What's the most outrageous thing that's happened in a kitchen where you've worked?
A gas line leaked and we ended up with a 30-foot wall of fire on the line, leaving me and four other chefs bailing over the expo wall during prom night dinner service.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only eat three things the rest of your life, what would they be?
Quesadillas, Basque chorizo and my grandmother's pork tacos.
Describe the restaurant you would create if cost and demographic were not an issue.
My restaurant would be centered around the chef's table idea. Being able to interact with the customer and share my personal experiences and motivations with regard to their dish is priceless. Even in this hypothetical place, my restaurant would not regard cost or demographic so much as it would serve as a place for those who love fellowship and food to come together. •