I grew up in Federal Way, Washington at a time when the entire town was virtually a bedroom community of Boeing. Having had from an early age an aptitude for math and science, I made the natural mistake of assuming that I would become an engineer at Boeing. In order to raise money for college, I got my first kitchen job at the age of 15 as a dishwasher at the local Sea Galley Restaurant. I continued to work in kitchens for the next 7 years during high school and undergraduate studies in Aeronautics at the University of Washington, until I found work in the engineering field.
Time brings wisdom, they say, and after five years as an Aeronautical Engineer at Boeing, it was clear to me that engineering was not my life’s passion. Since I had spent most of my free time during those five years cooking for myself and my wife Sheila and also catering for friends and parties (while also managing to get my Masters Degree in Control System Design at the University of Washington), working toward a career in the kitchen seemed like a good idea. Sheila agreed to put her career in fashion merchandising on hold and in 1990, we moved to Paris, where I entered the Culinary Arts program at L’Ecole Superior du Cuisine Francaise Jean Ferrandi, in Montparnasse. The Ecole Ferrandi is a public vocational high school, and in the ’80s they began a program of accepting a limited number of non-French students each year. I was lucky enough to be accepted. During our stay in Paris, I passed the examinations for my Certificate d’Aptitude Professionnelle and also worked at several restaurants, including Le Boudin Sauvage and Michelin rated Le Coq de la Maison Blanche.
After our return to Seattle, I worked at the Market Place Caterers and then was hired as a line cook at Campagne, working under James Beard Award winning Chef Tamara Murphy and owner Peter Lewis. I worked nearly all the positions in the kitchen there, including pastry chef, sous-chef and even washed dishes in a pinch. Eventually I was made Executive Chef for both Campagne and Cafe Campagne when Tamara left to open her own restaurant, Brasa. Altogether, I worked at Campagne for 8 years, and I hope that I did the restaurant proud during this time. During my tenure, we received many kind reviews including a feature in Art Culinaire magazine.
In 2000, I left Campagne to open Le Pichet with longtime friend and colleague Joanne Herron. Le Pichet is our take on bringing the warmth, congeniality and casual style of a neighborhood Paris bistrot to Seattle. Le Pichet was very warmly received from the beginning with great review in such publications as The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Food and Wine, Decanter, Conde Nast Traveler, and National Geographic Traveler. In 2007, Joanne and I opened our version of a Paris Bar/Cafe, which we called Cafe Presse. Cafe Presse is every bit Le Pichet’s little sister, sharing Le Pichet’s mission to celebrate the simple, everyday joys of French cooking while staking out its own younger, vibrant territory. Where the food at Le Pichet finds its inspiration in the rustic food of the French countryside, Cafe Presse is more Parisian, more closely associated with the energy of the street. Cafe Presse has become a social center of its south Capital Hill neighborhood and has also enjoyed very favorable reviews.
With two restaurants to run, its difficult to find a lot of spare time, but when I do, my activities generally revolve around food and cooking. I love to shop for food, whether it is at the local farmer’s markets in the small shops of the Pike Place Market or in Seattle’s International District; I am convinced that a love of shopping for food is absolutely central to eating well. Of course I spend a lot of time eating out, as well as cooking at home, where I like to try new techniques and recipes.
A few other things I am passionate about: Reading; Letter writing; our house in Orthez, France where we hope to retire; Travel; the social aspects of eating, shopping and cooking.