Born and raised in Seattle, I have fish and restaurants in my DNA. From a young age I scurried around my aunt and uncle’s restaurant, ‘The Wharf,’ a Seattle institution for 50 years nestled on fisherman’s terminal. One side of the restaurant catered to the Seattle upper class and the other side (the café) to the gnarled fishermen gulping down hot coffee by the gallons in the morning and whiskey in the evening.
After culinary school and an apprenticeship at the then Stouffer Madison Hotel, I made my rounds through Seattle restaurants until I finally opened up my own restaurant in 1996. It was an instant success. Through the years, however, I had a craving I couldn’t quite satisfy. It wasn’t until I became involved in the neighborhood farmers market that I could even name it. I knew how to cook. However, I realized I knew nothing about the actual food I worked with day in and day out. So I went on a sabbatical to learn how to raise and grow my own food.
I left Seattle for a small ramshackled old farm in Oklahoma. Point blank, I was a fish out of water. I can’t say my first years in Oklahoma were a romantic unfolding of a dream come true. It was hard like I had never known before and heartbreaking, but I was in love with Oklahoma and the friendships I made were just too important to leave, so I forged on to eventually create what has become The Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy.
Now my life, every cell of my body and being, is immersed in food. I’m always learning new things and even though it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, I am often giddy at the opportunities each season has to offer. My cooking reflects my growing. I want the vegetables to speak for themselves. I want them to influence me, guide me, and invite me to the origins of their flavor not the other way around. The dinners we offer are simply a bridge to connect us to the origins of flavor.