Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hail to the Chef: David Hill, Chef/Owner, The Chef's Table

Chef Hill is pictured farthest to the right.

Today's Hail to the Chef is David Hill, Chef Owner of The Chef's Table in Rocklin, and a chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Natomas.

1. What made you want to become a chef?
My desire for a lifetime of poverty! No I always wanted to own my own business and a wise friend of mine told me to always do what you love and the money will follow.

2. Where did you receive your training?
The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY and under French Master Chef Jean Banchet in Atlanta GA.

3. Who have you worked with that you have really admired?
My first Chef was Kurt Fliesfresher in Oklahoma and he was the first to inspire the use of local seasonal ingredients in food. He also was a calm lead by example Chef and I never have forgotten that you get more out of your staff with respect than brute force.

What is a typical day like for you at the restaurant?
I get to the restaurant in the mornings before I go to LCB (Le Cordon Bleu, in Natomas) to teach. That is quiet time to organize my thoughts, think about what's in season, how it relates to my menu, my customers and start the prep list so the TCT chef's have a plan for when they arrive at 2p. I'm back by 3:30 and they've got things under control.

5. What are/who are your primary cooking influences?
First, my dad. Growing up we had weekend culinary projects...baking bread and creating a proofing box out of a cardboard refrigerator box and a lightbulb is one of my favorite memories growing up. I'd have to say many European chefs have led the way for me, being an inspiration for sourcing local ingredients before Farmer's Markets were the norm. In college, I started as a computer major and found myself reading cookbooks and food magazines more than focusing on computer programming.

6. What are your favorite and least favorite foods to prepare?
Let's start with the least favorite. Being totally honest, I'd have to say my least favorite foods to make are desserts but I certainly do appreciate a good one. In terms of favorites, I love working with Pork, bacon, charcuterie and grilling.

Please tell me about your most overwhelming moment in the kitchen.
When I realized I was out of ketchup and one of the owners ordered a side. I felt totally helpless- but I ran next door and borrowed some and all was good.

Who are your favorite chefs or famous chefs?
Rick Bayless, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain (for his writing as much as his culinary skill).

White wine or red wine? Do you have a favorite wine varietal/label?
Both. I love a crisp white or rose (big fan of the Miner Rosato) to start and then move to a red with my main course. My taste changes with the seasons. A Zinfandel works well with the braised and heavier dishes of winter while a beautiful Dry Riesling or Sauvignon blanc can make the spring dishes come to life.

What is your "can't live without" kitchen tool and why?
Sharp set of knives and a microplane.

11. Please tell me how you go about planning your menus.
It's all based on what's in season. For example, right now we have asparagus featured in several places - grilled with spring onions in
remoulade sauce as a starter and as a side with our spring lamb.

If you had a different career choice, what would it be?
I'd be a doctor.

13. What are the most important things to remember (can be relative to anything) while working as a chef?
Respect - for the food you're preparing be it a vegetable or an animal. Respect for my team. Respect for my customers and community.

14. What is the most important thing you have learned in your culinary career?
That when you are wrong you better own up to it, as well as check your ego at the door.

What has been the most gratifying about teaching for Le Cordon Bleu?
Hiring my students.

16. What is your favorite topic to teach?
The restaurant class. It's all about putting what's been learned to the test and making the magic happen.

17. Best meal ever?
Pizza in Brooklyn, NY. And Dinner at Maxim's in Paris

18. Tell me about The Chef's Table, what is the inspiration for the menu?
We base all of the menu on what the customers have had and continue to like and or what is seasonal in the area. I always wanted to have a ever changing menu that has a few items that are staples with others that change to keep the regulars excited.

19. I noticed that you have art showings in the restaurant. Please let us know how you find artists to participate.
Our first artist Michelle Brunmier has returned, and our friend Sandy Hersh was just showing. Other that that I just want to help local artists have a place in Roseville/Rocklin to expand their client base and show off their awesome work. It is all word of mouth!

20. Please let me know about some upcoming events at The Chef's Table for April.
April 20th will be our third wine dinner- it will be with local favorite Mt. Vernon winery in Auburn.

To make a reservation at The Chef's Table, click here. The website is connected to the Open Table reservation system. Become a fan on Facebook here.

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