Today as fall begins and the season changes from summer to fall I thought it’d be sweet to share why the days flew by so quickly: a weekend in Portland, a quick jaunt across the United States, and a few days meditating and cooking off the grid at Tassajara Zen Center. There are so many tastes, sights, and sounds infusing creativity into new private chef fall menus and cooking classes.
Portland chefs epitomize the cooking philosophy of my generation. Chef’s there create a fusion of their cultural cuisine with the influences of the their new homes in the Northwest. I’m reminded of my own journey from the Midwest to California eight years ago and how my cooking has evolved into a Midwestern-Californian blend.
Food trucks abound. In one amazing culinary adventurous day, we bought a lunch for under $20 from a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef (like the Oscars of food) at Pok Pok Thai. To digest it all we made a visit to one of the many distilleries starting at the New Deal Distillery and savoring their Coffee Liqueur Local Roasters Line.
Dreaming of what to cook for our next meal we moseyed to the Portland State University’s Saturday Farmers’ Market and purchased materials for an amazing vegetarian feast that included zucchini stuffed with pine nuts!
Cross Country Trip
As a close friend and I drove from California to Ohio I marveled at the diversity of landscapes. Large swaths of land empty of human presence made me appreciate the scale of this country I call home. The culinary highlight of the trip was in Denver eating innovative and globally inspired tapas in the warm summer air of Linger’s rooftop deck! We had a watermelon gazpacho with a rhubarb sorbet topper.
Tassajara Zen Center
I spent 5 days at Tassajara Zen Center. There, the monks recognize work as an integral part of their spiritual practice.
“So when our work is practice, it is less about what we are doing and more about how we are doing it. This particular how in Zen training refers to bringing our zazen, or Zen, Mind to our workplace. “Zen Mind” is a willingness to engage ourselves wholeheartedly in whatever we are doing in the present moment”
My hours spent quietly chopping vegetables in the kitchen at Tassajara underlined my value of bringing love and gratitude to each moment I
spend doing this work. The Heirloom Chef is a work of love, for those I serve, for the planet, for my community, and for myself. While spending this time away, there emerged an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to offer something to the world that is so greatly meaningful.