Kiffiner of the Week
Where did you study?Portland, Oregon at the Western Culinary Institute - Le Cordon Bleu. How long have you been cooking? Professionally, since 2004 - less professionally since I was 12.
Favorite Celebrity Customers? Oooh there’s an ‘s’ at the end of that?! Probably the most famous would be Mick Jagger- served him and his girlfriend some oysters, at The Heathman in Portland. Ozzy Osbourne was the most memorable, because he came sitting with what’s left of Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, his wife, Kelly. They were all 10 feet away from me at the Chef’s Table. After their meal, the concierge from the hotel called to tell us that they’d really enjoyed their meal.
Favorite tool in the kitchen? My hands *stretches them out and admires them*
Favorite Restaurant in Montréal? Foxy right now. They cook everything on wood fire stoves, grills and ovens. They do a great job with their seafoods, breads and everything. Its that one place in Montreal so on point with service and food that’s not unjustifiably expensive. You can actually enjoy yourself.
What personal quirks does your team tease you about? I got called a florist by a sous-chef once because I was really focused and dedicated to making the food look good as well as taste good- he just wanted the food to go out fast. Presentation is part of what people are paying for. Seeing is the second stage of eating (right after smell). At first it was annoying to my chefs because it would take longer to make the food but then I ended up being at least as fast as everyone around me but putting out dishes that were simply prettier. I didn’t appreciate the first time I got called that.. But once I proved that I was just as fast, I was really proud. I was like yeah I could’ve been a mother-fucking florist, and I would have been the fastest one out there.
What do you love most about Montreal? It has 4 seasons, coming from San Francisco where it’s always a bit cold and foggy, it’s nice to really feel the passage of time.
What do you miss most about San Francisco? The produce.
Tell us about Kiffin, what is the culinary style? It is clean, local, seasonal, exciting and comforting and finishes with and genuinely nutritious.
What do you love most about Kiffin? The way Natasha and I work together to create interesting menus and events. It can be hard, but we’re really good at fighting through the pain- and I think that really renders everything we do down to it’s best self.
How has your cooking changed since you moved to Montreal? It has become more focused on creativity with vegan food. Most fancy food focuses on the meats, I’m enjoying making vegetables and grains sing.
What’s it like working for your wife (be honest)? There is never a dull moment, its always exciting. We’re really good at fighting which means we end up with impactful and interesting ideas. It's not just food - a lot of Kiffin is idea driven.
-If you hadn't become a chef what would you be? I think I would’ve been a good engineer of some sort, like a structural engineer of some sort. I love building furniture. I got into an architecture program in Portland State University, but cooking called to me.